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  Editorial Issue 116, March 2013   
Sagrantino: Pride of a LandSagrantino: Pride of a Land  Contents 
Issue 115, February 2013 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 117, April 2013

Sagrantino: Pride of a Land


 I like Sagrantino. I like it very much. I understand, in this passion, I am in good company, something making me very happy and giving me great satisfaction. Not because Sagrantino is the wine of my land, better to say, of my region - I was born in the noble and Etruscan Perugia - and Montefalco is about 40 kilometers away from the place where I was born and I usually live in. Sagrantino is a wine I love, despite this can be considered so different from the category of wines I usually pour in my very personal glass and from which I get the highest satisfaction. Wines expressing, first of all, elegance and balance, an example above all, my beloved Pinot Noir, good Pinot Noir, of course. And I also love the magnificent Nebbiolo, in its many territorial expressions, not only those expressed by the lands of Piedmont, in which I always find a charming elegance, in good evidence despite the remarkable power.


 

 A wine with a character, not always an easy one to understand and to appreciate, Sagrantino is usually blamed for being too much powerful, too much impetuous to the taste, because of its indisputable richness in polyphenolic substances and tannins. An accusation charged both to the style of the wines made from the great red grape of Montefalco - the red, robust and dry wine - as well as to the ancient and historical style, however still alive, adding sweetness to power, the so called passito. Today Sagrantino has reached, with full honor and merit, the top of wine Olympus, not only in Italy, but also in the world. The merit for this success - of course - goes to the first wineries which, with stubbornness, tenacity and, let me say this, an admirable and however not foolish far-sightedness, have invested on this grape and territory. In particular, above all, Arnaldo Caprai winery and the remarkable commitment of Marco Caprai, to whom goes the indisputable merit for having promoted Sagrantino all over the world. The commitment of Marco Caprai has gone beyond personal investments, also working in promotion and, in particular, the fundamental research and development activity, also thanks to the contribution of famous and competent experts.

 My interest and passion for Sagrantino accompanied me since the moment I acquired a “mature” awareness on wine, about twentyfive years ago, around the time I reached the legal age for the consumption of the beloved beverage of Bacchus. I remember that, at those times - at the end of the 1980s - I was getting a lot of satisfaction from the Sagrantino wines I found in the shelves of my city. The most vivid memories are enlightened by the red and deep content of the bottles from Arnaldo Caprai, Adanti, Antonelli, Milziade Antano, Rocca dei Fabbri and Paolo Bea. At those times, of course, Sagrantino also had other interesting exponents - worth and significant, with no doubt - but in order to enjoy their bottles one had to go to their wineries, as it was quite difficult to find their bottles in wine shops. Also Sagrantino passito - the sweet style - was walking its new way and, at those times, the highest exponent of Sagrantino passito certainly was Giuliano Ruggeri, a role he still plays today with a remarkable commitment and with extraordinary results.

 Talking about the reference and important figures of the world of Sagrantino in the 1980s, it is impossible not to mention Alvaro Palini - with a strong and eclectic character, just like Sagrantino and the children of its land - who expressed his vision for the wine of Montefalco in the bottles of Adanti winery. Today, in this winery works Daniel Palini - son of Alvaro - capable and competent, calm and reflexive, with an undeniable talent, not only for the vineyard and wine, but also for tasting. Then Filippo Antonelli, a gentleman having an exquisite kindness and willingness, is another important figure for Sagrantino who, since then, has kept high the honor of the grape and the wine of Montefalco: his wines certainly are among the best bottles of this territory. At those times I was hearing talking about them all and other figures of Sagrantino - and, I must say, they were always talking about them with respect and admiration - today, my privilege and honor, I personally know them, and I still thank them all for the wonderful emotions their wines give me.

 In these 25 years Sagrantino has walked a long way and, during its extraordinary journey, other figures have joined this wonderful adventure, contributing to the prestige and quality of the great red from Umbria. Nevertheless, Sagrantino - in its most famous style, that is dry and robust - is a pretty young wine, with a history having something less than 50 years. Although a lot has been done already, I however think there is still a lot to do, in particular in the development of a strong and clear identity, associated to the territory of Montefalco, requiring the effort of all the producers. It is not by chance if it is said united we stand, divided we fall. In particular if we consider its young age - a little more than forty years of history, related to wine, is a young age - there is a lot to discover about the potentials of this extraordinary red berried grape, to be noticed, having the highest content in polyphenols in the world. Time, in fact, begins to allow producers to discover the potentials of the patient job of years and how this can give Sagrantino a character of remarkable elegance, despite its powerful structure.

 These memories came back to my mind some evenings ago, when I noticed in my cellar a couple of bottles I bought at those times: A Sagrantino di Montefalco 1985 of Adanti and a vintage 1990 of Arnaldo Caprai. Corkscrew and glass at hand, those wines were still alive and kicking, of course, time gave them a more austere and rich character, however the personality of Sagrantino was still present, alive and spry. Bottles uncorked with a spirit of study as whoever tastes wine has no alternatives: he or she must continuously train his or her skills, with wines from every place and area, young and, of course, mature. Of course, they were two Sagrantinos belonging to a time now distant and the modern production style is different, strong of the experience of producers who - in these years - have understood the potentials of the noble Umbrian red. It has been understood the role of time: producers - to whom goes my support and encouragement - have started commercializing cru of Sagrantino; a magnificent contribution for understanding the potentials of the territory and of each environmental and viticultural expression. Those two bottles made me remember about the passion I had at those times for Sagrantino di Montefalco. A passion which has always accompanied me and, still today, it is very dear to me with increased commitment. Yes, I like Sagrantino. A like it very much.

Antonello Biancalana






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  Editorial Issue 116, March 2013   
Sagrantino: Pride of a LandSagrantino: Pride of a Land  Contents 
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