Monday, November 26, 2012

SAGRANTINO D.O.C.G. Wines by Philip S. Kampe





Umbria is the only landlocked province in Italy. Tuscany is to the northwest, Marches is east and Rome is southwest. Due to the popularity of Tuscany, a conversation about Umbria and its wines rarely surfaces.
For the past 15 years, Umbria has been a wine destination of mine. Friends (Fausto and Patrizia Proietti) own a beautiful medieval guest house in Trevi, named TETTI de TREVI (.com).  From the balcony of any of the seven guest rooms, you can see the vineyards of Montefalco.  
Each night that Maria (my wife) and I stay at Tetti de Trevei, Fausto Proietti and I plan the route for the next days wine journey in Montefalco.
The region around Montefalco is known specifically for SAGRANTINO, the newest noble wine variety in Italy. Sagrantiono is considered an indigenous grape that only grows in the hilltop areas around Montefalco.
According to current research, the first mention of the cultivation of the Sagrantino wine grape dates back to 1549 in Montefalco. The Sagrantino name can be traced back to the ‘Sacrament’ because the grape was cultivated by monks to produce a raisin wine used for religious rites. There are many theories regarding the origin of the grape. Some say St. Francis of Assisi brought the grape from the Middle East to be used as a sacramental wine. Others contend that the grape was brought to Umbria by the Greeks, as well as Franciscan (French) friars. It’s still a debate that exists today. I don't know the answer.
Montefalco is located in a valley surrounded by the Apennine Mountains. The valley is extremely warm in the summer, often over 100 degrees. Sand and limestone soil keep the roots cool during the warm days. Mountain breezes cool the wine growing region at night. Fortunately, a drying breeze, known by locals as Tramontano, comes from the north and helps limit rot. The varied climate, from hot to cool, results in a grape that has concentrated dark fruit and is loaded with tannins.
Sagrantino nearly disappeared from the Umbrian vineyards in the 1960’s. The grape was revived, thanks to the dedication of a few pioneering wine producers including Fratelli Adanti and the founding of the Caprai winery.
Thanks to the dedication various producers from the region, Sagrantino obtained a D.O.C. in 1979, followed by a D.O.C.G. in 1992.
Sagrantino wines are gaining popularity around the world. I believe because the wines are so unique.
At a recent sampling of 100% DOCG Sagrantino wines, numerous producers stood out of the crowd.
My favorites included:
CASTELBUONO, Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2006
PERTICAIA, Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2006
CAPRAI, Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2005
COLPETRONE, Sgrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2007
SCACCIADIAVOLI, Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2005

PHILIP S. KAMPE

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