Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG is a red wine made from 100% Sagrantino grapes grown in the Montefalco region of Umbria, Italy and in the same geographic area as the Montefalco DOC. The DOCG Montefalco Sagrantino allows for several still styles: dry rosso and sweet passito, both monovarietal Sagrantino. The Sagrantino Rosso requires wood aging. The Montefalco DOC wines are dry blends that rely on a majority of Sangiovese with a portion of Sagrantino blended in that adds weight, colour and tannin. The Montefalco DOC was created in 1977, originally for the ‘passito’ style of sweet Sagrantino made from air-dried grapes. The dry version of Sagrantino only became a DOC a few years later. In 1992, both Montefalco Sagrantino DOC and Montefalco Sagrantino DOC Passito were elevated to DOCG status – see Montefalco Sagrantino Passito DOCG.
Soil: Sagrantino does best on clay-based soils (D’Agata, 2014, p.425). D’Agata (2019, p.266) points out that because Sagrantino is not grown in significant amounts it makes understanding its relationship with a specific terroir easier.
Climate: ‘Continental type. January and July are the coldest and hottest months respectively. Annual rainfall of 650-700ml,’ (D’Agata: 2019, p.266).
Viticulture: Vine density: roughly 5,000 vines per hectare (up from 1,6000 vines per hectare in the late-1990s). The vineyards were replaced due to esca and to get less fruit per vine. Vine training: Into the 1980s the traditional palmetta system was used, with ‘more than one fruiting cane superimposed on others, a system not ideal for heavy planting densities, because the higher, fruit-bearing branches created shade for those below…[hence] densities were roughly 1,700 vines per hectare,’ D’Agata (2019, p.266). Research by the Arnaldo Caprai winery led to more cordon (spur pruning) and Guyot (cane pruning) systems being implemented in the region.
Yields: The base yield of grapes in 80 quintals per hectare.
Ageing: The wine must age at least 12 months in oak. It can be released for sale from 37 months after 01st December following the harvest.
Wine style: Described as ‘dense, enveloping’ by Oz Clarke (2015, p.174) and as ‘Italy’s most tannic red wine by far, all too often hard and unyielding,’ by Ian D’Agata (2014, p.425), even if ‘the high polyphenol content allows the wine to age well.’ D’Agata finds the most structured examples come from the township of Montefalco itself, more floral ones from Bevagna, and softer, easier-drinking ones from Castel Ritaldi and Gualdo Cattaneo.
Vineyard area & wine production: 1992 66 hectares (163 acres). 16 wine producers. | 2000 660,000 bottles. | 2015 2,548,842 bottles. | 2016 1,861,293 bottles. | 2017 986,944 bottles. | 2018 1,621,525 bottles. | 2019 1,966,092 bottles. |
2018 760 hectares (1,880 acres). 60 wine producers. 1.5 million bottles. Around 16.7% of Umbrian production in terms of volume, of which 6.3% is Montefalco Sagrantino & Passito DOCG, and 10.4% Montefalco DOC.
Vintages: See Montefalco DOC.
Wineries: See Montefalco DOC.
Dr Ian D’Agata, Native wine grapes of Italy (University of California Press, 2014), p.424-6.
Dr Ian d’Agata, Italy’s Native Wine Grape Terroirs (University of California Press, 2019).
Oz Clarke 2015, Oz Clarke Wine A-Z (Pavilion, 2015), p.174.
Production data source: Montefalco Consorzio Tutela Vini.