part 2 of 3 articles on Montefalco’s Sagrantino wines
Montefalco’s top wines: my picks
A note about prices: the Montefalco Rossos, which are blends, vary from about €10 to 15 (cellar prices), sometimes higher for reserves, and in Europe you can expect to pay anywhere from €18 to 40 for Sagrantino wines, with higher prices for some of the special bottles.
Montefalco bianco (white)
Whites account for only 4% of wine production in Montefalco. Trebbiano in Italian has a sense of “comes from”, so don’t confuse this wine with others, such as Trebbiano Toscano – these are different grapes, unrelated. Two producers said they believe Trebbiano Spoletino is related to Riesling, and certainly it shares some features, notably good acidity. Wine Grapes, however, describes it as a grape rescued from near-extinction in 2000, that is probably from a natural cross in the region in the late 1800s. Bright gold colour is pleasing with red coldcuts for a first course.
A second white is Grechetto, which also has good acidity, so works well with most Italian first course dishes. Less interesting for me than Trebbiano Spoletino, but wineries are working to bring it up to a new level as a single grape wine rather than using it in blends. Both are thick-skinned late harvest grapes with good colour.
Trebium Trebbiano Spoletino, 2015, Antonelli San Marco* – Balanced, floral with citrus fruit nose, surprising slightly spicy finish, lovely with Parma ham.
Trebbiano Spoletino 2016, Persecaia*, Del Posto Trebbiano Spoletino 2015** (€17), a 10th anniversary special wine – both have pineapple/exotic fruits, then citrus notes, very acidic, but they work well with salty cheese such as Pecorino Romano. Del Posto is the finer wine, very aromatic, with additional floral notes, and would pair well with mushrooms or langoustines (Norway lobster). At one point the winery stopped producing this white because it had to be harvested at the same time as olives, which are a large part of what this domain produces.
Montefalco Rosso DOC (red blend)
Montefalco Rosso Riserva 2011, Antonelli** (about €16 in Italy)
The winery does not produce this every year. I tasted the 2011, and they will be releasing a 2012, but there will be no 2013 and 2014. 70% Sangiovese (a selection from the oldest vines), 15% Sagrantino, 15% Montepulciano. Maceration with skin contact, about 4 weeks. The wine spends at least 6 months in French oak barrels, then large wooden vats for 12 months followed by cement amphores for 6 months and aging in bottle for a year. This is a bigger Montefalco red than many, but is a good wine to accompany several dishes. Long and very pleasing finish.
Montefalco Rosso Ziggurat 2014, Tenuta Castelbuono – Tenute Lunelli*** (about €8 at the winery,15 elsewhere)
Light brown hues, Sangiovese apparent, mouth very fruity to almost jammy, especially the very long finish. I had this at 2 tasting sessions plus with a meal and loved it every time. Also tasted the 2013 and 2014 Montefalco Rosso wines, both good but with 2013 more generous (2014 was cold and rainy). The 2013 Montefalco Riserva was also very pleasing – selected grapes and it is matured longer.
Montefalco Rosso 2015, Lungarotti*
15% Sangrantino, 25% Merlot, 65% Sangiovese. Cherry red, nose of red fruits. Be sure to open this 2 hours ahead; just after opening it has an unpleasant metallic note that I noticed at 2 tastings, but it was fine when opened early for a meal.
Montefalco Rosso Riserva 2011, Perticaia**
Pricier than some at €17, cellar price, for this fine wine – nose with a subtle blend of red fruits and freshly mown grass. Very smooth, easy to drink.
Montefalco Rosso Tenuta Rocca di Fabbri 2014*** (about €13, very good value)
Darker reddish-brown than most, nose is very rich and with good depth of fruit without moving to jam, good complexity and in mouth very smooth with good tannins, a hint of saltiness to the finish. Sangiovese 65%, Sagrantino 15%, other reds. Would like to try this after more aging, as the balance and structure are very pleasing.
Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG (red, single grape)
Tenute del Cerro Còpetrone 2010*** (about €23)
Frankly the finest wine I tasted in Montefalco, an older vintage than some of the others, a point in its favour. Dark red with orange highlights, a very expressive and complex nose that starts with chocolate and quickly moves to dark cherries, a mouth that is very smooth and rich, with a long finish.
Antonelli, 2005, 2010, 2011, 2012**
The 2011 has taken on a darker hue than the 2012 and developed gentle jammy fruit notes. You really feel the tannins in the 2012, but the 2011 has become softer and rounder, and very long. Beautiful wine, which for practical purposes we first tasted in medium-sized tulip glasses. And then changed to larger, rounder glasses and everyone remarked the difference. Be sure to use wine glasses that are big enough to give these wines the room they need!
Antonelli, Chiusa di Pannone 2009*** (€28-30)
Oh my, a beauty! Only 4,000 bottles made of what the winery calls its “most prized Sagrantino”, made from a selection of grapes from its highest elevation vineyard with the best exposure. Matured: 500 litre oak barrels for 6 months, then 24 months in 2,500 litre wooden vats/casks and 12 months in cement vats before 2 years aging in bottles. Beautifully complex, perfect with roasted, stewed, barbecued meats and another other hearty foods such as well aged cheeses.
Perticaia Sagrantino 2005***, 2010**, 2011**, 2012**
2012, current market seller: very dark red and a first nose that is a bit gamey, but it quickly slips into red and black fruit notes. In mouth: very smooth, round, but lacks depth somewhat, which I think it will gain with more time. Finish is medium-long, tannins are lovely. The 2005 was splendid, rich and with the kind of depth that makes you want to keep the other bottles in the cellar longer; good complexity. The 2007, which I did not taste, was awarded 93 points by Robert Parker. Very much terroir wines, these will reflect vintages – 2005 was a very good year, others less so.
Tenuta Castelbuono Lunelli 2013**
Very dark in colour, interesting nose of mulberries and less complex than some but in mouth this is smooth, round, well integrated tannins with a surprisingly long finish with a touch of spice.
Other Montefalco wine of interest
Lungarotti produces an IGT wine, Ilbio, “an experiment for us”, which makes a nice table wine, organic production, I was told, although too new to be certified. 10 months in large oak vats, then 6 months in barrel. Vintage 2015: colour is bright and cheerful red, the nose is all cherries, fresh and light, soft tannins in a departure from the influence of Sagrantino.
Photo gallery, Italy’s Carapace succeeds