Home > Experiences, Italian wines, Sagrantino, Umbria, wine, Wine Tasting > Beauty of Montefalco Rosso and Power of Sagrantino

Beauty of Montefalco Rosso and Power of Sagrantino

November 19, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

About two month ago (yes, I know, I’m the speedy one) I was invited to participate in the virtual tasting. The subject – Italian wines. To be more precise, the wines from Umbria, made out of the grape called Sagrantino.

I never participated in the virtual tasting before, so I was not sure how it was going to work. The idea was simple. I will get the wine, which should be opened and tasted in parallel with the winemakers, who will be doing it live on ustream. Of course I gladly agreed to take part in this wine drinking tasting.

The subject was wines from Umbria, from the region called Montefalco. Actually, it was not just one tasting, but two – one for the wines called Montefalco Rosso, and the second one for the wines called Montefalco Sagrantino.

It appears that Sagrantino is an Italian indigenous grape, which seems to be cultivated in Umbria for at least 500 years, if not longer. However in the 1960s it became literally extinct, and if it would not be the effort of the few winemakers, Sagrantino would be gone completely from the winemaking scene.

Sagrantino has dark and very thick skin, which results in very tannic and concentrated wines, literally black in color when young. Sagrantino has the highest polyphenolic content among most of the red grapes, if not among all red grapes in the world (take a look at the chart below). Just to get technical for a second, polyphenols (also called phenolic compounds) is a large group of chemical compounds, responsible for color, texture and mouthfeel of the wine (think tannins!), and the group also includes medically beneficial elements, such as reservatrol. As usual, I have to refer you to Wikipedia for additional reading, but I hope you get the point here.

Sagrantino_Polyphenols

My wines arrived few days before the tasting. As luck would have it, the day which the wines spent on the UPS truck, was one and only day in September when temperature outside reached 96F (extremely atypical for Connecticut in September). When I took the wines out of the box, I could feel that they are quite warm – on average, my wine thermometer showed all the bottles to be at around 84F, so I was obviously concerned… I opened a number of bottles the next day, and to my big relief, the was no sign of heat damage (I quickly closed the wines back using the gas canister) – I was ready for the tasting.

First day of tasting was dedicated to the wines called Montefalco Rosso. Montefalco Rosso wines typically are Sangiovese based, with the addition of 10% – 15% Sagrantino and 10%-15% Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. We had an opportunity to taste through 5 different wines:

DSC_0586

At the specific time, the ustream broadcast started with live tasting, where the panel of winemakers from all 5 wineries were talking about their wines and answering the questions. The ustream broadcast was accompanied by the live twitter exchange among all the participants in the tasting. The twitter stream was used to ask panelists the questions, share tasting notes and impressions. Definitely was interesting to see and hear the diversity of opinion both from the panel, and from the audience on twitter. To be entirely honest, the most difficult part was to do a few things at once – taking my own notes, talking to the people on twitter and listening to the panelists – difficult, but well worth it!

Below are my notes for the 5 Montefalco Rosso wines we tasted (as you will see, not necessarily taken exactly during that live tasting session).

2009 Romanelli Montefalco Rosso DOC (14.5% ABV, Sangiovese 65%, Sagrantino 15%, Merlot 10%, Cabernet Sauvignon 10%, 12 month French oak, 6 month in the bottle) – good dark fruit, easy to drink. Drinkability: 7
2010 Perticaia Montefalco Rosso DOC (13.5% ABV, Sangiovese 70%, Sagrantino 15%, Colorino 15%, 12 month in stainless steel, 6 month in the bottle) – day 2 notes – outstanding. Dark inviting fruit with a hint of sage on the nose, spicy cherries (cherries + black pepper) on the palate, with tobacco notes in the background. Delicious! Drinkability: 8+
2010 Le Cimate Montefalco Rosso DOC (14.5% ABV, Sangiovese 60%, Sagrantino 15%, Merlot 15%, Cabernet Sauvignon 10%) – was perfectly drinkable 6 (!) days after opening the bottle. Spectacular. Supple, ripe cherries, perfect acidity, espresso and dark chocolate, powerful, balanced. Drinkability: 8+
2009 Scacciadiavoli Montefalco Rosso DOC (14% ABV, 60% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino, 25% Merlot, 12 month French oak, 6 month in bottle) – Excellent. Dark, spicy earthy nose with some gaminess. Excellent minerality and dark fruit on the palate. Drinkability: 8+
2009 Colle Ciocco Montefalco Rosso DOC (14% ABV, Sangiovese 70%, Sagrantino 15%, Merlot 15%, 12 month in oak barrels, 4 month in the bottle) – nice soft red fruit on the nose, sweet and supple fruit on the palate, good acidity, soft tannins. Drinkability: 7+

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The next day we had the tasting of Montefalco Sagrantino wines. Montefalco Sagrantino wines are made out of 100% Sagrantino grapes. The tasting was done in the same format – panel of winemakers discusses the wines live via ustream, and twitter followers taste and discuss in parallel.

It was recommended to open wines one hour before the tasting. Considering how massive those wines are, I would think the right suggestion would’ve been to open them in the morning. I don’t know if it could make the difference, but I have to admit that my experience was rather frustrating during the live tasting. For the most of the wines, I couldn’t get any of the flavor descriptors and impressions, compare to what was exposed by the other twitter tasters. For instance, Arnaldo Caprai was showing literally as corked, where the other tasters had violets, black tea and other nice things to say. Literally only one or two wines cooperated with me during tasting. But – most of them came back nicely right after (see the notes).

Below are my notes for the Montefalco Sagrantino wines (all wines are 100% Sagrantino).

Montefalco Sagrantino tasting

2006 Antonelli Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG (14.5% ABV, 15 month in oak, 12 month in the bottle) – Dark fruit on the nose, same on the palate, very restrained. I’m sure needed more time. Drinkability: 7+
2007 Caprai Collepiano Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG (14.5% ABV, 20-24 month in French oak barrique, minimum 6 month in the bottle) – opened on 09/17, then closed with the argon canister. Reopened on 09/23. Concentrated, very dark. Initially gave an impression of being mildly corked. After 3 days finally started to open up into something interesting. Very substantial tannins ( more of stem/seeds tannins than oak). Dark fruit with undertones of leather and black tea. Drinkability: 8-
2007 Tenuta Castelbuono Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG (14.5% ABV, 28 month in oak, 10 month in the bottle) – dark supple fruit on the palate, very powerful, a wine with “broad shoulders”. Beautifully opened over the next few days, showing roasted meat notes on the palate, good acidity, excellent balance. Drinkability: 8-
2008 Tenuta Bellafonte  Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG (14% ABV, 36 month in large barrels, 10 month in bottle) – wine was first tasted on 9/17, then closed with gas canister. Reopened on 9/25. Powerful, concentrated, almost black color in the glass. Nice fruit undertones, cassis and plums, with more tannins coming in later. Overall delicious and “dangerous” wine. Drinkability: 8
2008 Colle del Saraceno Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG (14.5% ABV, 12 month stainless steel, 12 month French oak barriques, 6 month in the bottle) – this wine unfortunately showed signs of the heat damage. N/R.

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All in all, this was a great experience. The virtual tasting format was pretty well done, and I definitely will be looking forward to more virtual wine tastings in the future. And for the wines – my notes are above, and I definitely recommend looking for Montefalco wines – both Rosso and Sagrantino well worth your attention. Cheers!

Disclaimer: The wines were provided complementary by the PR agency. All opinions are my own.

  1. November 19, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Nice experience!LeCimate is one of my favourite Montefalco and I agree with your score.Pure Sagrantino requires definitely more concentration and attention, my opinion is that the Caprai is spectacular (when not corked or ruined!), and even if not an easy drinking wine, together with Barolo and Aglianico del Vulture, is one of the winery Italian gem.Away from the Sagrantino’s tannins, have you tried the sweet wine (from grapes attacked by the noble rot) Calcaia by Barberani in Orvieto? This delightful wine come from the same wineyard of the better known Orvieto Classico and is another gift from Umbria, so peculiarly different from the sauterns.

    • talkavino
      November 20, 2013 at 12:00 am

      Thanks for the comment! No, I never tried Calcaia by Barberani – would love to try it, but it seems that the wine is practically not available in US…

  2. November 19, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    The 2010 Perticaia Montefalco Rosso is a favorite of mine! Fascinating about Sagrantino and nice chart! Wild to hear about an live online tasting. I couldn’t handle the pressure, inspiration takes patience.

    • talkavino
      November 20, 2013 at 12:02 am

      This whole virtual tasting was definitely a very interesting experience. I would say that it is somewhat difficult to control, as every bottle of wine is unique, but I I hope it generates enough exposure for the wineries. I will gladly do it again 🙂

  3. November 20, 2013 at 8:43 am

    These sound right up my alley! Any idea where I can buy? On just online?

    • talkavino
      November 20, 2013 at 9:34 am

      There are Montefalco Rosso and Sagrantino wines available in the shops in Connecticut – you will not find all of those 10 wines I was talking about, but a number of them are available. You can find Arnaldo Caprai in many places, both Montefalco Rosso and Sagrantino. Perticaia and Le Cimate doesn’t seem to be available in Connecticut. You can check Harry’s in Fairfield and GrapesWine in Norwalk, they seem to have a good selection. Also you can go to your trusted wine shop with this list, and see what they can order for you – they might not carry a wine, but will be willing to do a custom order. And to find what is available online and compare prices, use wine-searcher.com

  4. November 21, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    What a wonderful experience, Anatoli! And a nice, interactive format too.
    I would have happily joined you for the tasting, especially of the Perticaia and of course Caprai’s Collepiano! 😉
    Great experience and great post!

    • talkavino
      November 22, 2013 at 8:07 am

      Thanks Stefano, it was definitely a very interesting experience. If I get invited again to something similar, I will see how we can do it together.

  5. March 12, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Wow a virtual tasting sounds exciting! Great reviews, Anatoli.
    I saw that you included the Le Climate in your top wines of 2013 list. I tried Le Climate at last year’s VinItaly and was impressed by the wine but unfortunately it’s not easy to find in Munich.

    Have you tried some passito Montefalco di Sagrantino, too? Good ones are extremely delicious 🙂

    • talkavino
      March 13, 2014 at 11:20 am

      Thanks Julian! It was fun and very educational – I heard of a grape before that tasting, but really had no idea about the actual wines, which are magnificent.

      Never had the passito from Montefaco Sagrantino – I’m sure it should be very interesting!

  1. December 22, 2013 at 12:19 pm
  2. September 27, 2016 at 8:32 am

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