The SOMM Journal

December 2014/January 2015

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{ }  65 one loves, but no one buys." Montefalco also produces a white and a quite popular red, Montefalco Rosso DOC. "It's important to understand Montefalco Rosso is not a second wine, as 'rosso' is with Brunello," explains Alessandro Lunelli of Castelbuono. Rather it a blend that by regulation must be primary Sangiovese, with 10 to 15 percent Sagrantino and the rest often Merlot. In short, Rosso tastes quite different from Sagrantino and costs less. A Sagrantino di Montefalco must be aged 30 months before being released, with 12 of those months in oak barrels. Naturally, each winery has its own formula, one seeking the right combo of power and elegance. "Sagrantino is different, and 'different' presents an opportunity," Meniconi maintains. His Perticaia's formula is to pull out seeds, allow for spontaneous primary and secondary fermentations and have a long maceration with the wine finished in standard barrels. By contrast, Liu Pambuffetti, whose family's Scacciadiavoli winery also makes a Sagrantino sparkling wine, prefers shorter maceration for softer wines. Several wineries, such as Filippo Antonelli's Antonelli San Marco, have gravitated to larger wood vessels, also in search of softer wines. Antonelli also believes that if more wineries intro - duced second wines, more rigid vineyard methods for the first wine would improve quality. "Traditionally, it takes about ten years before Sagrantino is ready," he says, but he would prefer it be drinkable soon after release and makes a non-oaked IGT version outside the DOCG. Sagrantino di Montefalco is also seeing interest from outside investors and producers. For example, Castelbuono, whose first vintage was 2003, is owned by the Lunelli family, who produce excellent sparkling wine at Ferrari in Trentino. (Their new winery, called Il Carapace, was first designed as a sculpture of a tortoise shell.) Castelbuono is also one of the growing number of Umbrian wineries whose vineyards are organic or biodynamic. "Sagrantino is a little bit tricky in needing a lot of leaf pruning in the spring," says Antonelli, whose winery is part of a larger farm—polyagriculture in practice, "but it's not difficult to grow it organically." Meanwhile, Caprai continues to push the future of Sagrantino, fostering a high-end tourist wine trail that also features Umbria's famous medieval towns, such as Assisi, Spoleto, Perugia, Todi and, of course, Montefalco. Additionally, he is striving to make the pro - duction of Sagrantino di Montefalco even "greener." "Beginning in 2009," Caprai says, "seven of our wineries accepted the challenge of Montefalco 2015," a green revolution project that Caprai reports has cut winery CO 2 emissions in half and the use of all vineyard chemicals by 60 percent. Results will be presented next year at the 2015 Universal Expo in Milan. For a wine grape that came late to the table, Sagrantino di Montefalco continues to show remarkable staying power. IMPORTERS Antonelli: Omni Wines (and others) Arnaldo Caprai: Folio Fine Wine Partners Perticaia: North Berkeley Wine Scacciadiavoli: Selected Estates of Europe (and others) Tenuta Castelbuono: Palm Bay International Arnaldo Caprai's 25 Anni was first produced in 1996 and celebrated the first 25 years of the winery. Founded in 1884, Cantina Scacciadiavoli ("cast out the devils") takes its name from a local 19th-century exorcist who used the wines to perform rituals. Castelbuono is among Umbrian win- eries whose vineyards are organic or biodynamic. "Sagrantino is different, and 'different' presents an opportu- nity," says Alessandro Meniconi of Perticaia. PHOTO COURTESY OF ARNALDO CAPRAI PHOTO COURTESY OF CANTINA SCACCIADIAVOLI PHOTO COURTES OF TENUTA CASTELBUONO PHOTO COURTESY OF PERTICAIA PHOTO COURTESY OF CONZORIO TUTELA VINI MONTEFALCO PHOTO COURTESY OF CONZORIO TUTELA VINI MONTEFALCO PHOTO COURTESY OF CONSORZIO TUTELA VINI MONTEFALCO

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