Umbria, the lush region known as “Italy’s green heart,” is pumping with a quiet, authentic passion. Throughout the years, Italy’s central area has become famous for its leafy vineyards bursting with plump bluish-purple Sagrantino grapes and charming small towns scattered across the picturesque countryside.
Often overshadowed by the glamour of neighboring Tuscany, Umbria has remained a tranquil, laid-back area, with the walled medieval hamlet of Montefalco appealing to tourists seeking an idyllic Italian vacation among sleepy villages, gently sloping hills and acres of romantic vineyards. Located approximately 30 miles southeast of Perugia, Montefalco — often referred to as the “Balcony of Umbria” — is situated at 1,550 feet above sea level. A quaint town, it is adorned with narrow, sloping, cobblestone streets and Romanesque churches.
Sagrantino di Montefalco (or Montefalco Sagrantino — same thing) is 100% Sagrantino from low yield vineyards in and around the hilltop town of Montefalco. Sagrantino isn’t really grown outside the region so it’s a very special grape. The wines, by law, have to be aged for a year in oak barrels and 30 months total before release. With the Mediterranean influence and clay soils that fresh the roots of the vines during hot summers, the growing season for the grape is long, which means that in good years it has time to develop a balance of tannin, fruit flavor, and acidity.
If you decide to buy a bottle you have to look for the word Sagrantino. Montefalco Rosso is the most common wine in the region and although it can be great, it’s only 10 – 15% Sagrantino — it’s mostly Sangiovese and can include other random red grapes too. Make sure you get Montefalco Sagrantino or Sagrantino di Montefalco because it’s then that you’ll get the black fruit, heavy tannin, earth and mouthwatering acid that I’m talking about.
During the last Italian Trade Tasting held on Montreal on November 2nd, I had the chance to taste a mini selection of Montefalco wines under the auspices of the Consorzio Tutela Vini Montefalco along the company of Maruska Passeri, spokelady for the Consorzio. This was a rare opportunity as we seldom see Montefalco wines in Montreal, Quebec.
Sagrantino is a food friendly wine that matches nicely with most Italian foods: Pizza, pasta, and anything with black truffles if budget permits. They have enough tannins to pair with wild game, braised meats, squab or pheasant, or even a nice steak or lamb. Of course aged cheeses go well too. Just remember to open the bottle and decant about an hour before serving. They go nicely with pastas or pizza. Add some truffles if available for a great match
Here are my tasting notes:
Montefalco Rosso DOC 2013. Tenuta di Colpetrone.
A blend of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot and 15% Sagrantino. Intense ruby red with slight purple reflects. Very fruity nose reminiscent of raspberry, spices and vanilla bean. On the mouth, it is rich and smooth with slight tannins. Overall, very elegant with a long persistent aftertaste.
Montefalco Sagrantino Colpetrone DOCG 2010. Tenuta di Colpetrone
On the nose, aromas of strawberries and nuts with lots of shaved dark chocolate. On the palate, earthy with dark fruit flavours and a earthy character. Lots of gritty tannins that will need a few years on the cellar.
Colpetrone Gold Montefalco Rosso 2007. Tenuta di Colpetrone
A grand red wine, powerful, concentrated and long. Striking deep ruby red with intense and ample perfume of red fruit and fine nuances of spices and vanilla. Striking with a incredible tannic concentration despite being almost 10 years old.
Perticaia Montefalco Rosso 2013.
This rosso was fresh with a taste of wild ripe red berries and flavors of wild strawberries, with lingering notes of blueberries. The mild tannins make it a great wine to pair with food. It can be enjoyed right away or laid down in the cellar for up to five years
Perticaia Montefalco Sagrantino 2012
Intense and corpulent with aromas that bring to mind, strawberry and ginger .On the mouth, tannic and bright and very perfumed.
Azienda Agricola Scacciadiavoli Montefalco Rosso 2013
On the nose, it smells like black cherry with spice, cola, licorice and dried herbs. Complex , so give your glass a good swirl to really enjoy this wine.It even gets better as the wine gets more air. Tasting reveals a wonderful balance between tart dark fruit and oak along with a polished mouthfeel displaying soft yet grippy tannins. It ends with a fine earthy finale and more luscious tart fruit that lingers for a long time. An encounter with a magnificent wine.
Tenuta Bellafonte Collenottolo 2011
Collenottolo, named for the hill where the grapes are grown, is an elegant and refined interpretation of the unique character and natural exuberance of the Sagrantino grape. The bouquet develops gradually and is intense with notes of blackberries and spiced blueberries.Elegant with a great energy and structure. Streamlined, powerful and fresh.
Cantina Le Cimate Montefalco Rosso 2011.
Dark ruby color, alluring nose with hints of plum and cherry. Soft in the mouth with elegant tannins. Flavors bringing to mind blackberry, cinnamon and star anise.
Cantina Le Cimate Sagrantino di Montefalco 2011.
Rich in blackberry and licorice and exploding with herbal and animal nuances. Structured with ample tannins. Excellent lenght with a long aftertaste.