Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG, Italy; 100% Sagrantino; 14% ABV
imported by 8 Vini of Hayward, CA
$11 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 15 Jan. Also at Oakland.
Yet another round of interesting Italian wines! This time they’re also showing up in the Seattle-Tacoma area. Montefalco is a town and commune in the central Italian province of Umbria, just southeast of Tuscany. Sagrantino is an indigenous grape that the Wiki page says is one of the most tannic. But don’t let that description scare you away from this delicious wine.
I was recently described by a reader as “the air guy,” and here I will in no way upset that characterization. I found it really needed about 2 hours and 15 minutes in a decanter to get going, and it continued to improve for the following hour. (Again, if you keep it at home for more than a few weeks, your airing time may be shorter after possible “bottle shock” from transport passes.) The wine really was thin, acid, and totally restrained until around that 2:15 mark, when it started showing some tangy black fruit as well, still quite hard and solid on the palate. After another half hour of air, it became increasingly complex, showing flavors of ripe and tart red cherries, blackberries, dark strawberry jam, red hibiscus tea, soft dark plum, and a little black earth, with a tannic but not overbearing finish. Finally, after about 3:15 of air, the earlier cleaner delineation of flavors dissolved into a meld of (an Italian wine’s version of) soft fruitiness. If my list strikes you as an odd jumble of flavors, I have to agree. I felt like it never really acquired an elegance to match its complexity, perhaps unsurprising in a very tannic grape, but that’s a minor quibble about a very tasty wine. I think it’s perfectly mature now, not showing signs of being over the hill, but I suspect they’re not far off.