The Cecchi family has been synonymous with quality Tuscan wine for generations. However, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that the family broadened their footprint and expanded their drive for excellence to Umbria.
Tenuta Alzatura was acquired by the Cecchi’s in 1998. Like many great relationships between grape vine and terroir, Sagrantino finds a home in Montefalco unlike anywhere else in the world. The Cecchi’s farm 30 hectares of vineyards at Tenuta Alzatura divided into 3 distinct parcels where Sagrantino flourishes. After decades of cultivating grapes in Tuscany, I asked Andrea Cecchi why he decided to begin growing Sagrantino.
“Giovanni, I loved the challenge because the Sagrantino grape is not one of the easiest to cultivate. It demands a fertile terrain with good skeletal soils. The flowering phase is the most difficult and delicate part to manage. The vines have a tendency to get jumbled and then the plant becomes a perfect site for parasites and fungal disease. For this reason, the shoots must have ample air circulation. That is the key. Once the integrity of the plant has been maintained, the Sagrantino grape gives great satisfaction with its incomparable polyphenolic composition. But as always, it starts with the plants!”
I last checked in on Tenuta Alzatura as part of my Sagrantino Tasting Report published in 2018. Patience is required of Sagrantino. It is not a variety to be trifled with or taken lightly. It is a winter wine meant for grilled steaks, osso bucco, short ribs or the heartiest risotto. Invariably, decanting is required for both aeration and clarity. Feel and feed the beast!
The 2012 Tenuta Alzatura Montefalco Sagrantino is an absolute beast of a wine. But, it is an elegant beast. What do I mean by that? Many Sagrantino are simply unapproachable in their youth. Buy them and bury them. However, this wine has only recently been released. It has been cellared for 4+ years before hitting the market and that illustrates the commitment the Cecchi’s have made to this wine.
Deep crimson in the glass, this bottle was actually Coravined about 3 months ago during my lunch with Giulia Cecchi. Since that time I’ve had it cellared and so I decanted it for 90 minutes before this tasting.
The aromas from the glass are persistent and obvious. Deep red plum and cherry notes are accented by toasted spices, roasted coffee and cured meats. With additional air time, there are floral accents to be noted. On the palate, yes, the wine is massive. A core of black cherry fruit cascades in waves across your palate leaving roasted meat, coffee and fennel notes in its wake. This is polished and juicy. Although the tannins are significant, they are dusty and well balanced by fruit and acidity. After vinification in stainless steel, the wine is aged for 16 months in barrique and 8 months minimum in bottle before release. 93 points and a wonderful value under $30. Find this wine.
In the coming weeks, the 2013 version of this wine will be released. Stay tuned! If you want to experience Sagrantino that has been “softened” slightly, look for its younger brother Montefalco Rosso which is generally 70% Sangiovese and 30% Sagrantino. There can also be other aproved grapes in the blend which comprise the 30%.