Saturday, June 24, 2023

Leading the way for Sagrantino with Arnaldo Caprai

When we talk about Italian wine, we talk about some of the respected wines of Italy and those more prevalent in the market.  Surprisingly, the Sagrantino grape doesn't get widespread recognition amongst Italian wines.  Sagrantino is a grape native to the wine region of Umbria and does very well in the terroir in and around the town of Montefalco.  It's a thick-skinned grape that contains high levels of polyphenols creating wines that are rich in antioxidants.  The Sagrantino grape lends a deep, densely ruby color with violet highlights.  It produces full-bodied, robust wines high in tannin, allowing them to be aged for 10-15+ years.  Darker fruits are displayed on the nose and palate, including blackberries, black cherries, plums, spice, and maybe some earthiness.

Sagrantino grapes
Sagrantino grapes sourced from Arnaldo Caprai
A few designations in Umbria contain the Sagrantino grape, including Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG, Montefalco Rosso DOC, and Montefalco Sagrantino Passito DOC.  The Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG wines, created in 1992, are dry-style wines made from 100% Sagrantino.   These wines require 37+ months of age, including 12 months spent in oak with 4+ months in the bottle. The wines of the Montefalco Rosso DOC, established in 1979, are dry wines that blend Sangiovese, a minimum of 60%, along with Sagrantino primarily.  With the Montefalco Sagrantino Passito DOC, the 100% Sagrantino grapes are dried for 2+ months concentrating the juice requiring 37+ months of aging without the requirement of oak usage.

One of the pioneers for Sagrantino and a producer that continues to lead the way for this grape and the appellation is the Arnaldo Caprai winery—established in 1971 by textile entrepreneur Arnaldo Caprai, who first began by purchasing about 7.5 acres.  His son, Marco Caprai, took over in 1988 and has been a massive advocate for the Sagrantino grape, paving the way for worldwide recognition of the capabilities and quality of the Sagrantino grape.  In 1991 he acquired new vineyards, which today stand at 370 acres with about 220 acres in production in Montefalco, Bevagna, and Gualdo Cattaneo.  

Marco Caprai
Marco Caprai sourced from Arnaldo Caprai

Marco has put tremendous work into multiple projects to promote Sagrantino and to help develop the grape, techniques used to produce these wines and the territory in which it grows.  He has focused on modernizing technology, finding the optimal wood for aging, the best methods for fermentation, trellising systems, pruning methods, and finding the best clonal selections.  

This week I enjoyed the 2009 Arnaldo Caprai Collepiano Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG.  This wine was first produced in 1979.  Collepiano represents the gentle hills in which the vineyards are located.  Per the requirements of the appellation, this wine is made from 100% Sagrantino.  It is aged 24-26 months in French barrique with 6+ months in the bottle. 

2009 Arnaldo Caprai Collepiano Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG

I wanted to sit on this vintage for some time to see how a Sagrantino evolves in the bottle with team.  A deep brick color in the glass with enticing aromas layered with savoriness, earthy with a hint of mushrooms, chocolate, licorice, dried cherries and baking spice to name a few.  Every smell brought different elements to the glass.  With the 20+ years of age on this wine the tannins were still moderate to firm along with nice acidity, but smoothed out on the finish leaving behind a silky mouthfeel combined with blackberries and spice.  You can find more recent vintages with an SRP around $45-50.  ABV 14.5% 

I enjoyed this wine with some bacon wrapped filet on the grill last night.  Perfetto!

If you're interested in taking a look at Arnaldo Caprai wines or other Sagrantino try a search on

*I may receive commissions if any wines are purchased directly from this buyer to support the operations of Vino Travels.

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