|~ Perugia is often called the “Portal of the Arts” ~|
Umbria is unique and special. There is simply no denying that and frankly, if Tuscany didn’t exist, I’d argue that Umbria would be on everyone’s lips when discussing the most picturesque areas of central Italy. Whether its Orvieto, Assisi, Montefalco, or the Capital City of Perugia, the province offers much from arts, culture, gastronomy and of course, wine.
Today we’re spotlighting an example of one of the regions most iconic wines, Sagrantino di Montefalco. Sagrantino is a somewhat mercurial varietal. It can be difficult to grow, but the chemical composition of the grape yields the darkest wines on earth and the rewards can be bountiful. Andrea Cecchi once discussed the finicky nature of the grape with me.
“Giovanni, the Sagrantino grape is not one of the easiest to cultivate. It demands a fertile terrain with a good skeletal soil. The flowering phase is the most critical and delicate part. The vines have a tendency to jumble up making the plant the perfect site for parasites and fungal disease. For this reason, the shoots must be in constant contact with ample air circulation. The best exposure to air is found in the middle of the hills. Once the integrity of the grape has been maintained, Sagrantino gives great satisfaction in its incomparable polyphenolic composition. Here, it is then the proper interpretation of the vines and the production ideas of the winery that make the difference.”
|~ Hillside Sagrantino vines on the Cecchi Estate, Montefalco ~|
Today’s subject wine is slightly contrarian in that although Sagrantino is typically brawny and powerful, Andrea Cecchi has succeeded in crafting a wine that displays a rare amount of elegance.
The 2011 La Campana Sagrantino is sourced from family owned vineyards just outside the Montefalco walls from hillside vineyards that lie approximately 450 meters above sea level. We decanted the wine for 45 minutes and served it alongside grilled NY strip steaks with wonderful success.
In the glass, the wine is a brilliant shimmering ruby with a core of violet reflections. The aromas from the wine are enticing with vibrant crushed cherry, toasted spices, and hints of espresso bean. On the palate, the wine is clearly full bodied, but the core of red plum fruit is presented very elegantly. As you enter a crowded room at a party, some Sagrantino will walk up to you, embrace you in a generous hug, smack you on the back and laugh out loud as they pull you into the room. This Sagrantino is the attractive woman in the flowing, white linen dress, standing across the room in the corner that alternates her gaze to you and the many passersby on the street below. The style is transcendent.
The core of red plums are joined by black pepper, hints of vanilla and a pleasing dusty clay note on the warm tannic finish. Without food, this needs a year or two in the bottle to soften. However, the peppery, smokey notes in the wine played well against the grilled steak. 90 points and a nice value around $25. Disclosure: This wine was a producer provided sample.
|~ The 2011 is 100% Sagrantino & spent 18 months in French barrique & about 10 months in bottle prior to release. ~|
Limited US importation, but widely available in the EU. Salute!
January 6, 2017