Wine Review: 2009 Di Filippo – Etnico – Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG


Sagrantino is considered one of Italy’s most important autochthonous red grapes. Its origins are under debate but it is widley believed that the grape was brought to Italy by Byzantine monks from Asia Minor and has been grown in the region of Umbria for over a thousand years. For many centuries the grape variety was pretty much exclusively used to produce passito-style sweet wines. But beginning with the 1970s wineries started producing dry Sagrantino and nowadays passito Sagrantino is rare to find. Because the grape variety is one of the most tannic grape varieties of the world and due to its natural liking for oak it is ideal for aging. Sagrantino passito is probably one of Italy’s finest and most excellent red dessert wines. Its longevity is often compared to that of of a Vintage Port.

Umbria-13 by il_baro . License: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Umbria-13 by il_baro . License: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Outside of Umbria Sagrantino is rarely cultivated but a few wineries in Australia have produced some very good Sagrantino wines as well. In Umbria the grape variety is mostly used for Montefalco DOC and Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG wines. Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG is also known as Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG. While Montefalco DOC is a blend of many variety with a high percentage of Sangiovese grapes (up to 70%) and only 10%-15% Sagrantino grapes Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG is exclusively made with Sagrantino. Sagrantino di Montelfaco’s DOCG regulations are very strict and the wine has to age for at least 33 months out of which the wine has to age at least 12 months in any type of oak.

To better coordinate themselves, a few wineries of Montefalco founded in 1981 the Montefalco-Consortium. Over 80% of all Montefalco wineries joined the Consortium, which has a total of 227 members. The Consortium is responsible for many things and promotes the wines of its members by holding publicly accessible wine tastings and by representing the wineries on trade shows like VinItaly. If you want to try some Sagrantino di Montefalco you should visit the Consortium’s website to find a trade show near you. The Consortium is traveling around the world to promote its wines and its tastings are the perfect opportunity to try some famous Sagrantino di Montefalco passito.

2009 Di Filippo – Etnico – Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG

2009 Di Filippo - Etnico - Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCGI first discovered the wines of Di Filippo at VinItaly a few years ago and have drank them on many occasions again. They produce 4 white and 11 red wines. Di Filippo makes 2 types of dry Montefalco di Sangrantino and 1 passito Montefalco di Sagrantino. While their passito is spectacular, I want to focus on Di Filippo’s Etnico today. Etnico is dry Sagrantino di Montefalco that aged 12 months in large oak barrels (the minimum according to the Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG regulations).

The wine had a label listed ABV of 16.5%! I was concerned that the wine might be undrinkable considering its high ABV. More on that later.

In the glass, Etnico had a deep ruby red color.

The nose opens with intense aromas of cinnamon and blackcurrant. After half an hour aromas of almonds and black cherries joined them.

On the palate, dry, very tannic and powerful. The alcohol was detectable but fortunately it was not as strong as I assumed it would be. Nevertheless, the wine was still very enjoyable and the alcohol was only a little disturbing. The wine was full-bodied and there were notes of licorice, black cherries and ripe blackberries. The wine had a unique charachter. Intense, long-lasting finale.

3.5 / 5 stars      

Parting Words

The 2009 Di Filippo Etnico Sagrantino di Montefalco retails in Munich for around 18€. For a Montefalco di Sagrantino that’s a a good quality-price ratio. Have you tried dry or passito Sagrantino di Montefalco? How did you like them?

To conclude I’ll leave you with some pictures of Montefalco and its surrounding vineyards. Cheers!


15 comments on “Wine Review: 2009 Di Filippo – Etnico – Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG”

  1. Andy Andy Reply

    I don’t think I ever drank wine with an ABV of 16.5% – The highest ABV from wine that I remember was an Amarone with 15.5%.

    Sagrantino sounds like a mysterious grape. Would love to try some someday! I saw that there will be a few Montefalco Sagrantino wine tastings in the US in June. Maybe I can make it to the one in San Francisco 🙂
    Do you know if Sagrantino is more tannic than Cabernet Sauvignon and Nebbiolo? Anyways, great post. I learned so much and I love learning.

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Thank you!
      Cabernet and Nebbiolo are both very tannic grape varieties. As far as I know, Sagrantino is more tannic than Nebbiolo. Not sure how tannic Cabernet Sauvignon is compared with Sagrantino.

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  3. talkavino Reply

    Last year I participated in the virtual tasting by the Montefalco consortium – we went through 6 Montefalco Rosso and 5 Montefalco Sagrantino wines, all dry. I honestly liked Montefalco Rosso more (on average), as they were more ready to drink. Montefalco Sagrantino need a lot of time before they are ready to drink. If you are interested in my impressions, you can search my blog for Sagrantino. Cheers!

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Thanks for stopping by! I will definitely take a look at your Montefalco Rosso and Sagrantino di Montefalco reviews. In my opinion the wines are very different though because Montefalco Rosso is only produced with 10%-15% Sagrantino grapes whereas Sagrantino di Montefalco is made with 100% Sagrantino. You are right though, that Sagrantino di Montefalco gets better with additional aging. One of the aspects I dislike about trade shows is that most of the time they promote the latest vintage of wine and not a vintage that is ready to drink.

  4. Sean P. Reply

    Nice post, Julian. Sagrantino is often not enjoyable when it’s consumed young but I would never refuse a glass of an aged Sagrantino 🙂 Etnico sounds like it can be enjoyed young, too.

    I never tried passito from Sagrantino grapes though. Didn’t even know it exists.

  5. RiojaChianti RiojaChianti Reply

    Good job of summarizing the history of Sagrantino. Like talkavino I tend to prefer Montefalco Rosso but for different reasons. The Sangiovese gives the Sagrantino a bit more acidity which the Montefalco Sagrantino lacks. I also prefer the taste of Montefalco Rosso but again that’s just a preference and doesn’t mean that Montefalco Sagrantino is a poor wine.
    I was unaware that Sagrantino was brought to Italy by monks – I always thought that the grape variety originated in Umbria..

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      Well the origins of Sagrantino are still under debate but most sources indicate that Byzantine monks brought the grape variety to Umbria.

  6. foodwine88 Reply

    I never had Montefalco Sagrantino nor Montefaclo Rosso. But I’m sure they should be very interesting! Will see if I can buy the Etnico in the US.

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