This weekend was the “Montefalceo 31st Enologica” Sagrantino wine release festival of the 2007 vintage. Sagrantino is to Umbria what Sangiovese is to Tuscany or Nebbiolo is to Piemonte. However, very few of the winemakers were pouring the 2007 vintage because it is just too young. It’s like bringing Lolita to the party instead of Gigi.
This weekend was the "Montefalceo 31st Enologica" Sagrantino wine release festival. The group tasting is held in a gorgeous palazzo in Montefalco and there are plenty of other events at the different cantinas, so mark your calendars for next year.
Sagrantino is to Umbria what Sangiovese is to Tuscany or Nebbiolo is to Piemonte. Sagrantino cannot be released until it has been aged for a minimum of 30 months, with 12 of those months in wood, so strictly speaking this was the year of the 2007 release. However, very few of the winemakers were pouring the 2007 vintage because it is just too young. You know when you go to an elegant party and there is a brash young girl whose heels are too high, her make up is too thick and the Lolita thing just isn’t working. Well, that’s what a too early release of Sagrantino is like. Lungarotti was serving a 2007 and people were making ‘tsk tsk noises at the audacity of this venerable old wine maker bringing a young chippie to the party.
I have trouble tasting Sagrantino in this sort of setting. This is a wine that needs food, it’s not a sipping wine.To repeatedly taste this strong, austere, tannic, protein loving wine does not do it justice. The best thing to do is select two or three, bring them home and forget about them for the next 5 to 10 years.
On the other hand, this intimate wine festival, is an ideal place to get the winemakers to talk about “the other stuff” they’ve been working on. We selected three intriguing wines to bring home, and look forward to tasting them in a quieter setting.
*Colle CioCCO, Agricola Spacchetti, Clarignano, 2009 (Viognier, Grechetto and Chardonnay) Viognier is an unusual grape in these parts and I wish there was more of it. It took the azienda a few years to have a viable crop but it was worth the effort. This is one of the more fruit forward, complex Umbrian wines that I’ve tasted. And an absolute bargain at 6,50 a bottle. I know, I know. What can I say? Umbrian wines are great value when you can find them.
*Signae, Cesarini Sartori, Peperosa, 2009 (100% Sagrantino) Yes, a 100% Sagrantino rosato (rose’) wine. The freshly squeezed juice is left with the skins for only two hours and even that short immersion is enough time to tint this wine a lovely honeyed rose. Peperosa is a sprightly wine, ready to tease the palate. It’s unusual to see this lighter, more playful aspect of the severe Sagrantino grape. (Just in case you were wondering why the winemaker's website is called Rosso Bastardo: Bastardo is the name of a town in the Montefalco zone. No, I don't know why.)
*Azienda Agraria, Moretti Omero, Ontefalco Rosso, 2007
This blended wine is being honored in the 2011 Gambero Rosso wine guide as one of the best valued wines for the price and we concur. It’s a mouthful, tons of berry, chocolate, but soft and pliable and perfect when paired with a forceful cheese or roasted meats.
We left the festival excited by the wines we tasted. Umbrian wine production is small so it will probably never achieve the international stardom of the wines from Tuscany and Piedmonte, but that doesn’t mean we can’t hold our heads high. There are some very special wines being produced in Umbria, but you might have to come visit to be able to taste them.