Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The "Green Heart of Italy" Umbria & it's Indigenous Sagrantino

Tuscany may be one of the most popular known regions in the world and draws millions of tourists a year, but right to the east is a region of equivalent beauty at more affordable prices that more and more people are discovering.  This region is Umbria. Known as the “green heart of Italy”, Umbria is full of beautiful medieval cities, green hills and great wine. Of course that is what we are here for, correct? I have written about Orvieto from this region, which is originally what this region has been known for when it comes to whites. Today we're going to switch it up and focus on one of the primary reds from this region, Sagrantino di Montefalco, and a bottle that I recently tasted.
wines of Montefalco wine region in Umbria
Photo by Consorzio Tutale Vini Montefalco

What is Sagrantino?
For those of you not familiar with Sagrantino it is an indigenous varietal of Umbria that is produced in and around the town of Montefalco. There are only about 25 producers that are producing this grape. Sagrantino is a wine of deep inky color and is a very tannic wine, more so than nebbiolo. If you aren't one for tannins than this may not be the wine for you. It produces wines of stewed fruits with spice and earthy qualities. Thankfully the producers that stayed committed to this grape have maintained it over the years.  During the 70's the wine was almost withdrawn from the vineyards as they didn't believe it would be a profitable grape for the region to grow.



The DOCG of Sagrantino
Sagrantino di Montefalco became a DOCG in 1992 and is held to strict regulations in order to produce top quality wines of the region. Some of those standards include making wines from 100% of the sagrantino grape along with aging them 33 months before release. Why so long you may ask? With this wine being so high in tannins it needs the time to be able to develop and mature and to mellow out those tannins producing a more balanced wine. There are additional regulations producers must adhere to, but I won't bore you with all the complete details.
2009 Tenuta Alzatura Sagrantino di Montefalco
The 2009 Tenuta Alzatura Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG I'm sharing was ruby red with garnet hues. It was intense on the nose with notes of chocolate, sweet spices, prunes and vanilla bean. Sounds delicious doesn't it? It was a full bodied wine that was dry, smooth and warming on the palate with firm tannins and a little bit of charcoal on the finish.



I have yet to visit this wine region with the few times I have been to Umbria, but expanding my wine knowledge I am sure to check out some wineries next time as I love wines of these characteristics.

You can read more about the wines of Montefalco and the consortium itself