Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG: the great red wine of Umbria
Sagrantino di Montefalco is the red wine that has made Umbria famous all over the world. And it is also the native wine that reflects its truest aromas and flavors. The Sagrantino vine grows only here, or rather it is in the green hills around Montefalco and Bevagna that achieves the best results, thanks to a combination of factors such as territory, climate and the care of Umbrian winemakers. We are in the province of Perugia.
History of Sagrantino di Montefalco
The history of this great Italian red wine is shrouded in mystery. There are no official documents in which it is mentioned before 1500, although at the time it was still a sweet wine. As always it was, man and vineyard coexisted and each house had a vineyard (even a single plant) of Sagrantino for the production of wine for the great anniversaries. If we read Pliny the Elder, we discover that the Mevania area was famous for the hirtiola variety, but this apart from indicating the goodness of the place for viticulture, does not tell us anything else and it has not yet been proven that the hirtiola is the Sagrantino.
Some think that it is a vine that came from the East (Syria) with the pilgrimages of the Franciscan friars and that the diligent friars immediately realized how exceptional it was as a sweet wine. In fact, let’s not forget that Sagrantino was born as a party wine, to be paired with lamb and the classic Umbrian Easter cake. But all we have is the assonance between the sacred and Sagrantino.
In the 80s the dry version began to be produced and only in the 90s the Sagrantino fashion broke out, abandoning the guise of rustic wine to rise to the role of the great red. These are the years of the fruity bombs with which the American market immediately fell in love. The hills are filled with dense vines, the concentration of the wine is cut with a knife and thanks to its intrinsic sumptuousness it rides the wave of muscular wines. Today the producers are returning to a more austere style, adhering to the characteristics of the grape, less exasperated. In 1992 Sagrantino di Montefalco, both dry and passito obtained the DOCG.
The production area of Sagrantino di Montefalco
Despite the name, Montefalco has no exclusivity and Sagrantino is also produced in Bevagna, Gualdo Cattaneo, Giano dell’Umbria and Castel Ritaldi. We are talking about 660 hectares, very few for a wine spread all over the world, and this shows how much Sagrantino is linked to this territory. In addition to the large historic wineries, the panorama is very varied, with appreciable quality and various interpretations, with some winemakers who dare and are turning to organic. The area deserves more than a trip!
The production disciplinary
As we said, Sagrantino is a tannic wine, so much so that aging is mandatory for a period of at least 33 months, with at least 12 months in oak barrels for the dry version. This must be followed by a further period of refinement in the bottle of at least 4 months. Here is the specification.
What does Sagrantino di Montefalco taste like?
Sagrantino is a solemn, full, alcoholic wine, with powerful tannins: one of the most tannic wines that exist in the world, but how can you recognize it?
Color. When young it is very dark ruby, ink, to be lost inside. Aging tends to garnet.
The nose offers black cherries, small berries, earthy notes, red flowers, cinchona, but above all anise.
On the palate, it is full and ample, warm and of excellent persistence. When you taste it you will not easily forget it, its tannic texture is thundering but seductive. Freshness is not its strong point and minerality will only be found in rare, lucky cases.
Sagrantino the Easter wine
These characteristics of power and structure betray its Eucharistic-Paschal nature. Although the refinement is long and manages to sculpt the tannins and make it soft, the most intriguing version is always the passito. Able to give rise to immortal wines, of an intoxicating complexity, full of spicy nuances, memories of incense and round fruit that passes from cherries in alcohol to ripe plums. All framed by a lively tannin that keeps the wine dynamic.
Sagrantino serving temperature
Serve it in large glasses, where it can slowly oxygenate, so there will be no need to decant the wine, at a temperature of 16-18. For very old bottles, let’s say 20 years, you can think of reaching up to 20 ° C.
Recommended pairings for Sagrantino di Montefalco
Grilled meat, pulled pork, brisket, spare ribs with bbq sauce, burgers with melted Brie.