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 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 135, December 2014   
Contrasts of Sagrantino and SangioveseContrasts of Sagrantino and Sangiovese Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
Issue 134, November 2014 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 136, January 2015

Contrasts of Sagrantino and Sangiovese

This month we are comparing Sagrantino di Montefalco and Brunello di Montalcino's Sangiovese. Two magnificent grapes yet very different, both capable of making excellent wines.

 Sagrantino and Sangiovese, two famous grapes, the former exclusively associated to Umbria and, in particular, Montefalco, the latter typically associated to Central Italy, Tuscany and Emilia Romagna in particular. Sangiovese is also cultivated in Umbria and, in most of the cases, it is blended to other grapes, rarely vinified alone. Sangiovese is the absolute protagonist in monovarietal red wines of Tuscany and Emilia Romagna, a leading grape for both regions. Sagrantino is known for its richness in polyphenols, a characteristic resulting in robust and astringent wines, something forcing producers to a strict evaluation of polyphenolic ripeness of the grape and proper vinification. Also Sangiovese is capable of making wines of remarkable structure, it is less astringent and makes of crispness one of its main and appreciated qualities.


 

 From a wine making point of view, Sangiovese is an evidently more versatile variety than Sagrantino, with which are produced wines having different characters and, sometimes, opposed. Sangiovese is in fact suited for the vinification of many styles, from immediate and crisp wines, to robust and complex results. Sagrantino too proved to have a certain versatility, even in the production of classic method sparkling wines, however its richness in polyphenols makes it more critical when used for the making of certain styles. As opposed to Sagrantino, Sangiovese is widely spread and it is found in the vineyard of many Italian regions, even in Sicily and Veneto. Sagrantino is a variety specific to Umbria and, in particular, its presence outside the area of Montefalco appellation is very limited and rare.

 The origin of Sagrantino is not clear, a condition the grape of Montefalco has in common with other varieties considered indigenous to Italy. There are many theories about the origin of Sagrantino, however no one of them can be considered reliable and certain, as there are no evident and historical proofs about its origins. What can be considered certain is the long tradition of Montefalco for viticulture and, in particular Bevagna, was mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his important Naturalis Historia. In the past they tried to identify Sagrantino with the ancient variety itriola - sometimes called hirtiola - but it is very likely it was not the red grape of Montefalco. Andrea Bacci associated Itriola to Passerina, whereas other scholars, in particular archaeologist Carlo Pietrangeli, believed this grape was Sagrantino. These hypotheses could not be proved, though.

 Among the theories about the origin of Sagrantino, it is believed the grape was introduced to Montefalco by some Franciscan monks coming back from Asia Minor. This theory would also suggest the origin of the name as it seems Sagrantino was used for the production of wine to be used in sacred rites. If it is true the origin of the grape is not certain, what it is certain is the relationship of Montefalco with viticulture and wine. The cultivation of the vine is in fact dated back to the first century DC and, very important, Montefalco was one of the few cities in Italy where the cultivation of the vine was done inside the city walls. The importance of vine and wine in Montefalco became very high, as in the sixteenth century harvesting was regulated by specific communal laws. It can however be said at those times the presence of Sagrantino in Montefalco was known and strong, its wines were already famous and appreciated in the near Perugia and in Papal States.

 The origin of Sangiovese is, for certain aspects, unclear and rich of uncertainness. There are in fact two Italian regions disputing the origin of Sangiovese: Emilia Romagna and Toscana, regions in which this variety is widely common. The origin of the name is clearer and it is believed to derive from sanguis Jovis - blood of Jupiter - and, in its many variations and dialectal adaptations, today it is called Sangiovese. It is one of the most important Italian varieties and of which exists many clonal expressions, probably like no other grape. Researches about this variety introduced the classification in two distinct families: Sangiovese Piccolo (Little Sangiovese) and Sangiovese Grosso (Big Sangiovese), defined according the size of berries. Sangiovese is called Prugnolo in the area of Montepulciano, Brunello in Montalcino, both found in the province of Siena, Tuscany.

 Other names with which Sangiovese is known in Italy include: Morellino in the Scansano area, province of Grosseto; Sangioveto in certain areas of Tuscany; Nielluccio in Corsica, France. Wines produced with Sangiovese are pretty variable, because both of the wide spreading in distant and different places, and for the differences existing among the many clones. A characteristic common to all Sangiovese wines is a certain elegance to the nose and mouth, as well as a pleasing crispness, however perceptible in each of them. From vinification in steel tanks to cask, Sangiovese has a unique and interesting versatility, from immediate and direct wines, to complex and robust interpretations. King of red wines of Romagna and Chianti, two of its most famous expressions include Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.


Contrasts of transparencies: on 
the left Sagrantino di Montefalco; on the right Brunello di Montalcino
Contrasts of transparencies: on the left Sagrantino di Montefalco; on the right Brunello di Montalcino

 We will compare Sagrantino and Sangiovese in order to understand the peculiarities of the two varieties by evaluating their differences. In order to make the comparison even more useful, we will evaluate two wines having similar wine making characteristics - or, at least, as similar as possible - therefore simplifying the tasting. Choosing a Sagrantino is not difficult, as the wine making technique used for its production is common to all of them: aging for at least 33 months, of which 12 in wood. As for Sangiovese, we will need to chose a wine aged in wood for a significant period, for this reason we will choose a Brunello di Montalcino. Production disciplinary for this famous Tuscan wine provides for an aging in wood for at least two years. In both cases, we will choose wines aged in the same type of container, therefore cask or barrique.

 We will begin by evaluating the appearance of both wines. The simple observation of transparency let us notice an evident and substantial difference. Sagrantino di Montefalco does not easily allow the passage of light and it will be pretty hard to see an object put behind the glass. Brunello di Montalcino has a higher transparency and, according to wine making and viticultural conditions, the object put behind the glass will be easily recognized. Color shows remarkable differences as well. Deep and intense ruby red in case of Sagrantino di Montefalco, becoming brilliant and bright in Brunello di Montalcino. Nuances of color generally tend to garnet red in the famous wine of Tuscany, whereas in Sagrantino will be observed a strong ruby red nuance.

 The nose too will reveal remarkable differences since the very first moments of the olfactory evaluation. Two olfactory profiles characterized by quite different opening although - for certain aspects - we can also perceive strong analogies. Let's evaluate the opening of Sagrantino di Montefalco. By holding the glass in vertical position and without doing any movement, let's proceed with the first smell. We will perceive a strong and evident aroma of blackberry - a primary and identifying characteristic of Sagrantino - as well as plum and black cherry, including the elegant aroma of violet. Let's now evaluate the opening of Brunello di Montalcino. The sensation perceived to the nose offers a quite different olfactory profile. In this case black cherry and cherry will be the main aromas, sensations which will be followed by plum and violet.

 According to a general point of view, Sagrantino di Montefalco has a more full and robust olfactory profile, whereas Brunello di Montalcino has a fresher and thinner olfactory profile. In the great Umbrian red we will mainly perceive aromas of black berried fruits, whereas in Brunello di Montalcino will be red berried fruits to be mainly perceived. Moreover, in Brunello di Montalcino it is not rare to perceive from the glass the aroma of rose, including dried rose, a quality virtually unknown in Sagrantino di Montefalco, except for very rare cases. Likewise, raspberry - pretty frequent in many Brunello di Montalcino wines - is virtually unknown to the profile of Sagrantino. We will not consider tertiary sensations, as they are strongly connected to aging process, therefore variable according to time, keeping and wine making.

 To the taste, the two wines continue to prove their remarkable differences. Sagrantino di Montefalco will be characterized, from the very moment it enters the mouth, for its remarkable astringency and powerful structure. Full and robust wine, Sagrantino is also characterized by a considerable quantity of alcohol - it is in fact not uncommon to reach 15% - a quality useful for the balance of its robust tannins. To the gustatory evaluation, Brunello di Montalcino is characterized by a very different profile from Sagrantino. Also in this case it is perceived a full and robust structure with an impact of astringency lower and more moderate than the wine of Montefalco. If tannins are less aggressive, the same cannot be said for the crispness caused by acidity, in this case higher than Sagrantino.

 An interesting characteristic to be considered is the difference of the concept of structure in these wines. Both have a remarkable robust body, however the expression of this quality is perceptible in different and distinct ways. In Sagrantino di Montefalco polyphenols play, of course, a fundamental role: as it is commonly known, this grape has a very high quantity of these substances. In Brunello di Montalcino the impact of polyphenols is weaker than Sagrantino, however it has a full and robust body. Wood plays a complementary and very important role in both wines, as well as contributing to the enhancement of overall roundness. In Sagrantino di Montefalco wood in fact contributes to the balance of tannins' harshness; in Brunello di Montalcino it smooths any possible excess of crispness determined by acidity.

 






 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 135, December 2014   
Contrasts of Sagrantino and SangioveseContrasts of Sagrantino and Sangiovese Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
Issue 134, November 2014 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 136, January 2015

Wines of the Month


 

Score legend

Fair    Pretty Good    Good
Very Good    Excellent
Wine that excels in its category Wine that excels in its category
Good value wine Good value wine
Prices are to be considered as indicative. Prices may vary according to the country
or the shop where wines are bought




Donna Francesca 2011, Giovanni Ederle (Veneto, Italy)
Donna Francesca 2011
Giovanni Ederle (Veneto, Italy)
Chardonnay, Garganega
Price: € 17.50 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Intense golden yellow and nuances of golden yellow, very transparent.
Intense, clean, pleasing and refined, starts with hints of mature apple, plum and honey followed by aromas of mature peach, banana, pear and citrus fruits.
Crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness.
Persistent finish with flavors of mature apple, plum and honey.
Aged in cask.
Pasta with fish, Roasted fish, Roasted white meat, Stewed fish



Rubro del Forte 2011, Giovanni Ederle (Veneto, Italy)
Rubro del Forte 2011
Giovanni Ederle (Veneto, Italy)
Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Croatina
Price: € 17.50 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Brilliant ruby red and nuances of garnet red, moderate transparency.
Intense, clean, pleasing and refined, starts with hints of blackberry, plum and dried violet followed by aromas of black cherry, tobacco, vanilla, walnut husk and chocolate.
Properly tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness.
Persistent finish with flavors of blackberry, plum and black cherry.
12 months in cask, 12 months in bottle.
Roasted meat, Stewed meat, Braised meat, Hard cheese



Collio Malvasia 2011, Borgo del Tiglio (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Collio Malvasia 2011
Borgo del Tiglio (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Malvasia Istriana
Price: € 22.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Intense greenish yellow and nuances of straw yellow, very transparent.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of apple, plum and hawthorn followed by aromas of pear, ripe peach, vanilla, almond, caper, honey, grapefruit and mineral.
Crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness.
Persistent finish with flavors of apple, plum and almond.
Ferments in cask.
Sauteed fish, Broiled crustaceans, Stuffed pasta with mushrooms



Collio Rosso 2009, Borgo del Tiglio (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Collio Rosso 2009
Borgo del Tiglio (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Merlot, Cabrenet Sauvignon
Price: € 22.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Intense ruby red and nuances of garnet red, little transparency.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of black currant, black cherry and plum followed by aromas of blueberry, dried violet, vanilla, chocolate, tobacco, licorice, mace, leather and eucalyptus.
Tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, agreeable.
Persistent finish with flavors of black currant, black cherry and plum.
2 years in barrique, 18 months in bottle.
Game, Stewed and braised meat, Roasted meat, Hard cheese



Amaranto 72 Riserva 2010, Italo Cescon (Veneto, Italy)
Amaranto 72 Riserva 2010
Italo Cescon (Veneto, Italy)
Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), Merlot (35%), Cabernet Franc (15%), Marzemino (10%)
Price: € 15.40 Score:

Deep ruby red and nuances of ruby red, little transparency.
Intense, clean, pleasing and refined, starts with hints of black cherry, black currant and plum followed by aromas of violet, blueberry, chocolate, vanilla, mace, tobacco and eucalyptus.
Tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, agreeable.
Persistent finish with flavors of black cherry, black currant and plum.
12 months in barrique, 12 months in cask, 12 months in bottle.
Game, Roasted meat, Braised and stewed meat, Hard cheese



Piave Raboso Riserva Rabią 2009, Italo Cescon (Veneto, Italy)
Piave Raboso Riserva Rabià 2009
Italo Cescon (Veneto, Italy)
Raboso
Price: € 19.00 Score:

Deep ruby red and nuances of ruby red, little transparency.
Intense, clean, pleasing and refined, starts with hints of black cherry, blackberry and plum followed by aromas of dried violet, blueberry, vanilla, chocolate, mace and menthol.
Tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, pleasing crispness.
Persistent finish with flavors of black cherry, blackberry and plum.
36 months in cask, 12 months in barrique, 12 months in bottle.
Game, Roasted meat, Braised and stewed meat, Hard cheese



Barbaresco Canova 2010, Ressia (Piedmont, Italy)
Barbaresco Canova 2010
Ressia (Piedmont, Italy)
Nebbiolo
Price: € 22.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Brilliant ruby red and nuances of garnet red, moderate transparency.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of cherry, plum and violet followed by aromas of raspberry, rose, vanilla, tobacco, chocolate, cinnamon and menthol.
Tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, pleasing crispness.
Persistent finish with flavors of cherry, plum and raspberry.
26 months in cask, 6 months in bottle.
Game, Roasted meat, Braised and stewed meat, Hard cheese



Barbaresco Riserva Oro 2009, Ressia (Piedmont, Italy)
Barbaresco Riserva Oro 2009
Ressia (Piedmont, Italy)
Nebbiolo
Price: € 31.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Brilliant ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, moderate transparency.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of cherry, plum and dried violet followed by aromas of raspberry, dried rose, vanilla, tobacco, cocoa, cinnamon, licorice, leather, mace and menthol.
Tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, pleasing crispness.
Persistent finish with flavors of cherry, plum and raspberry.
5 years in cask.
Game, Stewed and braised meat, Roasted meat, Hard cheese



Chianti Vigna di Pallino 2013, Tenuta Sette Ponti (Tuscany, Italy)
Chianti Vigna di Pallino 2013
Tenuta Sette Ponti (Tuscany, Italy)
Sangiovese
Price: € 11.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Intense ruby red and nuances of ruby red, moderate transparency.
Intense, clean, pleasing and refined, starts with hints of black cherry, plum and violet followed by aromas of blueberry, raspberry, blackberry and geranium.
Properly tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing crispness.
Persistent finish with flavors of black cherry, plum and raspberry.
Aged in steel tanks.
Stewed meat with mushrooms, Broiled meat and barbecue, Cheese



Crognolo 2012, Tenuta Sette Ponti (Tuscany, Italy)
Crognolo 2012
Tenuta Sette Ponti (Tuscany, Italy)
Sangiovese (90%), Merlot (10%)
Price: € 23.00 Score:

Intense ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency.
Intense, clean, pleasing and refined, starts with hints of black cherry, plum and black currant followed by aromas of violet, blueberry, vanilla, tobacco, chocolate, mace and eucalyptus.
Tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable.
Persistent finish with flavors of black cherry, plum and black currant.
14 months in barrique.
Roasted meat, Stewed meat, Braised meat, Hard cheese



Cilento Aglianico Cenito 2010, Luigi Maffini (Campania, Italy)
Cilento Aglianico Cenito 2010
Luigi Maffini (Campania, Italy)
Aglianico
Price: € 28.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Intense ruby red and nuances of garnet red, little transparency.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of plum, black cherry and blackberry followed by aromas of violet, blueberry, black currant, vanilla, chocolate, tobacco, licorice and menthol.
Tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, pleasing crispness.
Persistent finish with flavors of black cherry, plum and blackberry.
18 months in barrique.
Game, Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat, Hard cheese



Cilento Fiano Pietraincatenata 2012, Luigi Maffini (Campania, Italy)
Cilento Fiano Pietraincatenata 2012
Luigi Maffini (Campania, Italy)
Fiano
Price: € 20.00 Score:

Brilliant straw yellow and nuances of straw yellow, very transparent.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of apple, plum and hazelnut followed by aromas of citrus fruits, dried apricot, almond, pear, vanilla, candied fruits, hawthorn, butter, honey, flint and mineral.
Crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness.
Very persistent finish with long flavors of apple, plum and almond.
8 months in barrique.
Roasted white meat, Roasted fish, Stuffed pasta, Fish soups






 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 135, December 2014   
Contrasts of Sagrantino and SangioveseContrasts of Sagrantino and Sangiovese Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
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