Grape variety comeback stories are something I usually associate with Italy, maybe because the country has so many authentic grape varieties that have fallen victim to globalization and the rise of market-dictated varieties. It is however not uncommon for some crazy/ambitious winemaker to rediscover something previously neglected. Some of these wines are fantastic. Recall one of the earlier wines I presented here: Teroldego Rotaliano, firmly repositioned as a quality variety thanks to Elisabetta Foradori. Are they however memorable enough to build a reputation?
Sagrantino is a variety cultivated in Umbria, Central Italy, which seemed destined to go extinct or to end up in sweet red wines at the very best. It is a dark variety, tannic and in need of time so it was not exactly popular until Marco Caprai came along and showed that it could be done differently, becoming instrumental in the revitalization of the Montefalco Sagrantino appellation. Today, roughly 700ha are planted, of which 90 belong to Caprai, making him by far the largest producer. Unfortunately, his wines do not come cheap but luckily there are a lot of producers following in his footsteps and making wines that can frankly be labelled as more exciting.
Tannic concentration means that Sagrantino demands time. Ageing in oak is mandatory for at least 12 months, and the wines can only be brought on the market after 37 months in total. Even then, patience can do no harm. Roccafiore is a modern winery with about 15ha planted. In most guides you can find opinions and scores in their Sangiovese or Grechetto wines, but their Montefalco Sagrantino 2010 should not be ignored. It is a young wine with an almost biting tannic structure at first, so decanting and giving it time to breathe serve it well. The overruling aroma is black cherry and structurally speaking it has something of a Syrah from the Northern Rhone as it has the same cool, tannic backbone yet more full-bodied and on the fruitier side. Definitely one to put in the cellar, but in a carafe accompanying a nice côte à l’os, you can make it work right now!