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.
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
I 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.
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!