Italy in Nine Parts- Sagrantino di Montefalco

With a vertical tasting at Adanti

 


Adanti is both one of the historic producers of Sagrantino di Montefalco, as well as one of the largest.  With 32 hectares (about 80 acres) under vine and a lineage that reaches back to the 1960’s, which is quite long for the region, they are poised to become major players in the Sagrantino scene.

The wines of Adanti strike me as particularly massive and extracted.  The estate uses only tonneaux and botti for the ageing of their wines, so most of the massive tannins are certainly coming from the fruit, and in fact there is so much fruit, in addition to the fruit tannins, that one hardly notices the affects of the oak aging.

What to expect: Sagrantino

Sagrantino originates from the region of Umbria, in Italy, where it produces big, full bodied, and intense red wines that are packed full of tannin and acidity. The flavors typically recall blackberry, raspberry and plum, with notes of licorice, earth and tar. Sagrantino is often blended with softer varieties to help tame the tannins, in which case the wine is bottled as Rosso di Montefalco.
Related Imagery

Signore Adanti Displays the last bottle of the 1985 Sagrantino!

It’s a primitive chart that I put together for an article in the works, but it certainly is illustrative of the levels Sagrantino can achieve.

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For those of you who are not familiar with Sagrantino di Montefalco a little background information might be in order. Montefalco is located in the heart of Umbria, on rolling hills between the cities of Perugia and Spoleto, well Spoleto might be more accurately described as a town, but anyway.

This region of Umbria is a bit roughly hewn and quite dry, much like the wines produced from Sagrantino. Sagrantino is a bit of an anomaly as a grape with no known close relatives. It’s a true indigenous variety and is only grown in any significant amount in the Montefalco region.

Even here in it’s home. Sagrantino has barely retained a foothold. The variety was almost lost in the middle of the last century and as of 1970 there were a scant 5 hectares being cultivated. Current production has exploded but remains modest at about 250 acres under vine spread among some 50 or so producers.

The wines were traditionally made in a sweet style, from dried grapes: Passito de Sagrantino. The name Sagrantino is most likely derived from its use to produce these sweet wines for Church activities; Sacer being latin for sacred.

The wines were produced in a sweet style for many reasons, such as the inability of many native yeasts to ferment these powerful wines fully dry. However, Sagrantino is arguably the most tannic grape on the planet, and does not lack for acidity, so the residual sugar helps give the passito wines a balance that many of the dry wines lack.

The passito wines were given DOC status in 1983 but the dry Sagrantino had to wait until 1991 to receive official status, in this case as DOCG. Sagrantino di Montefalco is a wine based on 100% Sagrantino that is aged for a minimum of 28 months in a combination of wood and bottle. Even these 30 months (36 months from 2009 and going forward) do very little to begin to soften the tannins in the wines.

A blend is also produced in the region, Rosso di Montefalco, which is based on Sangiovese with additions of 10 to 15 percent Sagrantino as well as 15 to 30 percent of other grapes. These other grapes have frequently been traditional Tuscan blending grapes or Montepulciano d’Abruzzo though more and more one find Cabernet, or more often Merlot, finding their way into the mix. It is also possible to produce the Rosso as a Riserva bottling by ageing it for at least 30 months in a combination of barrel and bottle.

Well that’s a brief rundown of the situation. The wines tend to be exceptional tannic and packed with dry extract and polyphenols, the highest known levels of polyphenols in wine in fact, and by a significant margin as the chart shows.

Adanti is both one of the historic producers of Sagrantino di Montefalco, as well as one of the largest.  With 32 hectares (about 80 acres) under vine and a lineage that reaches back to the 1960’s, which is quite long for the region, they are poised to become major players in the Sagrantino scene.

The wines of Adanti strike me as particularly massive and extracted.  The estate uses only tonneaux and botti for the ageing of their wines, so most of the massive tannins are certainly coming from the fruit, and in fact there is so much fruit, in addition to those fruit tannins, that one hardly notices the affects of the oak aging.


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Comments

  • Snooth User: Mawin
    331990 4

    Woow

    Dec 22, 2009 at 6:54 PM


  • Snooth User: COOLIE61
    104547 28

    HOW CAN COPY THE RECENT ARTICLES TO ITALY? IE. MONTLACINO, GREVE, CHIANTI, MONTEPULCIANO, CONTUCCI, BOSCARELLI, AVIGNONESI, ADANTI, ANTONELLI, AND COLSANTO.

    Dec 23, 2009 at 3:55 PM


  • Snooth User: Eric Guido
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    92549 179,167

    Wow Greg, a great read. I really want to learn more about Sagrantino and this was a great intro to a couple of producers I'm not yet familiar with. Nice photos too.

    Dec 27, 2009 at 11:53 PM


  • Snooth User: Mbmixer
    106764 9

    I discovered the wine when a friend recommended it at a bar in NYC. I have had trouble finding it elsewhere. Anybody have a line on where you can find it in Rhode Island?

    Jan 03, 2010 at 10:22 AM


  • Snooth User: UmbriaLovers
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    353322 92

    Nice content and really interesting to read about Sagrantino di Montefalco from other point of views. We were in Montefalco last week for a sunday trip, we discovered the pasta made with the wine and we tried different wines from Montefalco, both Sagrantino and Rosso. What do you guys think of our reviews?
    http://umbrialoversblog.blogspot.co...

    Thanks for reading and sharing

    Jan 14, 2010 at 2:55 AM


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