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Sagrantino wine

Sagrantino is a very special, unique wine produced only in one part of Umbria. In fact there are only 30 recognized producers, all within the Comune of Montefalco and parts of the adjacent Comuni of Bevagna, Gualdo Cattaneo, Castel Ritaldi and Giano dell'Umbria. Although the same special sagrantino grapes may be cultivated outside the region, the resulting wine will not qualify for the DOCG mark (Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) which was awarded in 1992.

The origins of the sagrantino grape are disputed. Some say it was brought to the region by the first Franciscan Friars. Its name has religious connotations and it may have been used at mass for the holy sacrament. Certainly the area's vinicultural tradition was established by the Benedictines in the Middle Ages when they planted vineyards on hitherto waste ground. The grapes are considered to be the world's richest in polyphenols, powerful natural anti-oxidants, and so the wine has great health-giving properties.

Umbrian grapes - click to enlarge

Umbrian grapes
Click on picture to enlarge

There are two types of sagrantino wine. The first is a full-bodied dry red, with a colour described as deep ruby or deep garnet. It is said to have a faint scent of violets and an aroma and bouquet of blackberry with a harmonious, lingering taste. It is advised as an accompaniment to red meat and in particular game dishes such as wild boar stew. It is expensive. Even in supermarkets expect to pay well over double the price of a less well-known variety and at least ten times the price of cheap plonk!

The other type is a 'passito' made partly from raisins. The grapes are picked when very ripe, then laid out on wooden trays and left to dry for two months which they do without going rotten or losing sugar content. The resulting beverage is rich, sweet and aromatic, has at least a 14.5% alcohol content, and is particularly good for accompanying local desserts.

Both types of wine are matured for at least thirty months in cellars, 'passito' spending at least twelve of these months in wooden casks. The best vintages supposedly belong to the years 1985, 1990 and 1998, while 1992 was particularly poor.

Sagrantino Logo - seen on roadsigns

There are signs along the sides of the road in this part of Umbria displaying the standard logo of the 'Strada del Sagrantino' or 'Sagrantino wine route', while the neatly cultivated vines stretch away into the distance among the olive groves and fields of sunflowers.

So if you pass through this part of Umbria, be sure to taste the sagrantino!

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All material copyright of Clive West and Damaris West 2007 - 2017 and not to be used or reproduced without written permission.

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