Beyond doubt, the red Sagrantino of Montefalco is one of the finest expressions of Italian wine making.
The reputation of Italian wine rests on wines famous throughout the world, such as Chianti, Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, as well as the more "common" Sangiovese, but Sagrantino of Montefalco can surely hold its own in any confrontation. The cultivation of vineyards in the territory of Montefalco, in particular Sangiovese, dates back to the pre-Roman era. Indeed we have the roman author Pliny the Elder on record as having praised the merits of the wine of these lands. However, it seems that it wasn't until later that Franciscan friars brought Sagrantino wine grape back from Minor Asia. It then took over from the Sangiovese grape in the vineyards. We owe it to this rare and precious grape cultivated only on the hills around Montefalco, that Sagrantino of Montefalco can take its place on the Mount Olympus of Italian wines. Needless to say, a wine as sublime as this dry Italian red boasts the certificates of quality DOC and DOCG, obtained respectively in 1979 and in 1992, covering the entire production of Sagrantino di Montefalco, including the special variety produced from partially dried grapes. Other grapes are nonetheless still cultivated in this wine and gastronomic district which extends over sixteen thousand hectares, as for example, the already mentioned Sangiovese.
Sagrantino of Montefalco, in its dry version, is a garnet red Italian wine with a faint scent of violet petals, an aroma and bouquet reminiscent of blackberries, alcoholic strength between 13 and 15 percent degrees, to be served at room temperature, 17° to 20° centigrade, not more. It is excellent for soups and light meats, though its full-bodied character is typically partnered with roasted meats, game and piquant cheeses. This wine, in its version produced from partially dried grapes, is perfection: full-bodied and mellow, spicy, warm taste, alcoholic strength never below 14 percent, colour tending towards garnet red. These characteristics of taste come directly from the peculiarity of its grapes being able to withstand drying for two months on wooden trays, without going rotten or losing sugar content, after having already been picked at an advanced state of maturation. In order to reach perfect maturation, a protracted period of ageing is required owing to the high concentration of polyphenols and tannins: over 30 months for both the varieties, at least 12 of which in wooden casks for the dried-grape variety.
Bella Umbria thanks Mr.Edward Nelson for the translation of this page.