Sagrantino is an Italian red grape variety that is indigenous to the region of Umbria in Central Italy, in the province of Perugia, in the commune of Montefalco and makes some of that region's most distinctive and exciting red wines.
It is grown primarily in the village of Montefalco and its surrounding areas, there are a dozen or so producers that work with this grape, with only about 250 acres planted in total. With such small production, the wine is not widely known outside of Italy, even though it was granted DOCG status in 1991.
The origins of the Sagrantino grape are widely disputed, but what is known is that it was used primarily for dessert wines for many years, the grapes being dried in the 'passito' style, much like a 'Recioto di Valpolicella'. At some point, the wines were made in a dry style, and that is how they are predominantly made today.
The Sagrantino grape is one of the most tannic varieties in the world, and creates wines that are inky purple with an almost-black centre. Sagrantino has higher tannin levels than almost any other variety, including Nebbiolo. Thus a well made Sagrantino has excellent aging potential; indeed, given its firm tannins, Sagrantino demands sometime in the bottle before it is opened. The bouquet is one of dark, rich berries and fruits with hints of plum, spices, cinnamon, and earthy undertones.
The Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG requires 100 percent Sagrantino grapes to be used, with a required 30 months aging before release, of which at least 12 in oak barrels. Sagrantino has as excellent ageing ability. A more approachable and affordable 'Montefalco Rosso' usually contains only 10-15% Sagrantino and allows up to 70 percent Sangiovese with the remainder being Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, though some winemakers also use Colorino in the blend. A dynamic and exciting wine to look out for on your travels, best enjoyed with red meats and rich cheeses.