As I discussed in “Wine and Health: A Fun Deep Dive” last week, I’ve long known that Tannat was a really healthy wine because of its high polyphenol/resveratrol content, but I didn’t know that Sagrantino from Umbria, Italy had even higher polyphenol/resveratrol levels. Today let’s explore this wine.
Let’s Start with Wine Folly
I love Wine Folly The Master Guide Magnum Edition published in 2018. This book has a page for most wine grapes, plus a lot more information. So, I’ll start with what the book has to say about Sagrantino. They describe the grape as “a rare, deeply bold, central-Italian red” with notes of plum sauce, licorice, black tea, black olive and black pepper. Because Sagrantino has very high tannin and astringency, they recommend pairing it with fatty foods such as cream-based sauces, sausages, wild mushrooms and cheese.
Other Characteristics of the Grape
Sagrantino is a deeply colored grape that grows well in the limestone and clay soils of Umbria. In addition to the tasting notes that Wine Folly highlights, I found the following characteristics on a number of web sites: black cherry, blackberry, spicy and earthy. The wine is described as both sweet and savory. In one video I saw, it said that even when the wine reaches 14.5% alcohol, there is still quite a bit of residual sugar left. Hence, this unique combination of sweet and savory.
The wine benefits from aging for at least 10 years. Interestingly, there’s a local wine law in Umbria that says that Sagrantino can’t be released until it has aged for at least 30 months. So, you won’t find a bottle in a store that’s younger than three years old. When I am able to shop again, I will pick up a few bottles, so that I can drink one now and age the others for five, 10 and maybe even 15 years, if I have the discipline.
If the label says Sagrantino, it must have 95% of this grape in it. Typically, when it is blended, it’s blended with Sangiovese.
According to Wine-Searcher, this grape is “often described as elusive and mysterious. [It]…is produced by only a handful of producers in Montefalco and hardly grown outside Italy at all. Consequently, its availability is limited, though an increase in international attention has seen a rekindling of interest in this intensely colored grape. Even rarer than the dry red wine crafted from Sagrantino and its blends are the varietal passito wines of Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG. These concentrated wines, made from semi-dried grapes, are comparable to Vintage Port in their intensity and longevity.”
The wine comes from an area in Umbria called Montefalco. Tutto Montefalco tells us that “Montefalco is a majestic hilltown in central Umbria. Once you arrive, you will step through the ancient walls of a very unique and charming countryside town that will take you back in time and have you walking around the village in the same footfalls of at least eight saints that called Montefalco their birthplace…The major tourist attraction in Montefalco is the museum inside the Saint Francesco Church. This church was built between 1335 and 1338 and is one of the most interesting medieval churches in the area…From atop the hill in Montefalco you can view the magnificent Umbria valley below with the beautiful olive groves and vineyards.”
I’ve you’ve tried Sagrantino, I’d love to hear about your experience. Salute.
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