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Wine from Sagrantino

Updated on December 29, 2011
In the hills of Montefalco, this amazing Sagrantino wine is structured along the lines of nature, the old-fashioned way, without chemicals, using the knowledge of the weather and seasons handed down by the Bea family from over five centuries.
In the hills of Montefalco, this amazing Sagrantino wine is structured along the lines of nature, the old-fashioned way, without chemicals, using the knowledge of the weather and seasons handed down by the Bea family from over five centuries. | Source
The grapes used in Sagrantino wine are considered to be the world's richest in polyphenols, powerful natural anti-oxidants, and so the wine has great health-giving properties.
The grapes used in Sagrantino wine are considered to be the world's richest in polyphenols, powerful natural anti-oxidants, and so the wine has great health-giving properties. | Source
Sagrantino grapes.
Sagrantino grapes.

Background:

The Montefalco region of Umbria is the origin of a very unique wine called Sagrantino. Its production is highly limited and there are only thirty licensed producers, these being restricted by a Government Decree to the Comuni of Montefalco, Castel Ritaldi, Bevagna, Giano dell'Umbria and Gualdo Cattaneo. While another vineyard may produce an apparently similar wine, and even use the same grapes, only those chosen few vineyards may actually label theirs Sagrantino.

It is easy to discern the genuine article since true Sagrantino bears the DOCG mark (Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) which, since 1992, has guaranteed the pedigree of the wine. Perhaps ironically, 1992 is considered by connoisseurs to be a poor vintage.

The wine is not just remarkable for its taste. The grapes are thought to contain the highest recorded levels of polyphenols which are naturally-occurring anti-oxidants. These scavenge the free radicals in the blood system and, in doing so, help prevent diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Sagrantino wine appears to have been in production since the Middle Ages although its exact origin has never been agreed upon. One theory is that it first came to Umbria with the early Franciscan Friars. The name itself does suggest a religious influence - it was possibly even the wine of choice for the holy sacrament. Certainly the Benedictine order of monks was keen on transforming unused land into highly-productive vineyards and Sagrantino was being made by this time. It was also these monks who established Umbria's viticulture which exists to this day and which plays such an important part in the local economy.


During our wine tour in Montefalco. Tour can be taken either as a full day tour or a ½ day tour. Full day tour includes visits to 2 hamlets which are part of the Sagrantino ‘Strada del Vino’ and includes 3 visits to wine cellars.
During our wine tour in Montefalco. Tour can be taken either as a full day tour or a ½ day tour. Full day tour includes visits to 2 hamlets which are part of the Sagrantino ‘Strada del Vino’ and includes 3 visits to wine cellars. | Source
Drying the Sagrantino Grapes for the Passito
Drying the Sagrantino Grapes for the Passito
Passito, Sagrantino de Montefalco
Passito, Sagrantino de Montefalco | Source

Two types of Sagrantino wine

The more commonly known of the two is a typically full-bodied dry wine possessing a dark ruby or deep garnet coloration. Its bouquet is particularly fruity, like a blackberry, some say, and its aroma have been described as 'like violets'. The wine is a popular, if expensive, accompaniment to red meat or game dishes and, despite being red, often eaten with the locally-caught wild boar. At up to forty times the cost of the cheapest Italian red wine, it is a drink to be savoured.


Passito

The other Sagrantino wine is called 'Passito' in reference to the extreme ripeness of the grapes when they are picked - much like the German Spätlese. After the grapes have been harvested, they are then spread out on wooden trays where they must remain drying for at least two months. The grapes' storage conditions are critical otherwise they could quickly go mouldy and become unusable.

The finished wine is, as might be expected, very sweet and aromatic. It is also intoxicating, having an alcohol content of 15% or even higher. It is used mainly as a wine to be drunk alongside sweet desserts such as the Italian staple favourite, tiramisu (which means literally'pick me up').

Both wines improve with keeping and it is a condition of their production that they be matured in cellars for a minimum of thirty months. Passito must also spend over a third of this time in a wooden cask.

Wine connoisseurs have agreed that the best vintages in recent years have been 1985, 1990, 1998, 2001, 2003 and 2004.

The wine and its associated vineyards have become a popular tourist attraction for a less well-trodden part of Italy. Travellers to Umbria looking to learn more about this world-famous wine should look out for the road signs declaring 'Strada del Sagrantino' (Sagrantino Wine Route).


29 December 2011 Moira G Gallaga©

Vintage quality evaluation of Montefalco Sagrantino
Vintage quality evaluation of Montefalco Sagrantino

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    • moiragallaga profile imageAUTHOR

      Moira Garcia Gallaga 

      6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      You should be able to find Sagrantino wine in the US mljdgulley354 but you should try stores that specialize in wines. Thanks for your comment.

      Thank you for your comment tammyswallow. Too bad you can't take wine but if you have someone very dear to you who loves wine, this is a good gift for that person.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Wonderful hub. I can't drink wine because of the sulfates, but it is one of the most beautiful things. I love the decor, the Tusan flair.. Well done and gorgeous.

    • mljdgulley354 profile image

      mljdgulley354 

      6 years ago

      I don't drink much wine but this is a very informative hub. Is this wine sold in the US?

    • moiragallaga profile imageAUTHOR

      Moira Garcia Gallaga 

      6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thanks for the tip steveamy, I'll look out for those producers you recommended. Thank you also for your comment.

    • steveamy profile image

      steveamy 

      6 years ago from Florida

      I love Sagrantino.... the producers to look out for include Paolo Bea and Arnaldo Caprai....Outstanding.

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