Explore the Wines of Montefalco

Montefalco (inside the purple area) is a sub-region in the center of Umbri. Umbria is just inland from Tuscany. Umbria map courtesy of winefolly.com

Montefalco in Umbria
The Umbria region is inland from the more famous Tuscany. Known as the “Green Heart of Italy”, Umbria is a prolific producer of many food products including grains, olives, porcini mushrooms and black truffles. Montefalco in Umbria is best known for Sagrantino, an intensely tannic red wine. But Montefalco is much more than just one wine. Let’s explore the full range of wines from this beautiful sub-region. We’ll take our tour via the grapes.

Let’s tour through the grapes and wines of Montefalco in Umbria

Disclosure: I attended Anteprima Sagrantino in February 2019 as a press member and my trip was sponsored by the Consorzio Tutela Vini Montefalco. All opinions expressed are my own. If you search in the blog, you’ll see I was a fan long before my trip!

You can find more information including a full list of member producers at the Consorzio Tutela Vini Montefalco.

Grechetto

(click on any photo for a full-size slide show, hit “escape” to return to post)

Montefalco Grechetto DOC
DOC rules for grape blend: Grechetto minimum 85%, other grapes 0-15%. Grechetto is a native grape and the traditional white wine of the region. Historically Grechetto featured volume over quality. This was evident in the unique “palmetto” vine training system, which is still occasionally seen in use today, mostly as a tribute to the traditional method (with higher quality and lower yields practiced).

Montefalco Grechetto is typically pale yellow-gold in color. The nose is fresh, fruity and floral with citrus and almond notes. Lively acidity and light to medium body make it a nice choice for first courses and lighter dishes. Grechetto wines can usually be found for under $20 in the US.

Trebbiano Spoletino

Montefalco Bianco DOC, Trebbiano Spoletino IGT, Spoleto DOC
Montefalco Bianco blending rules: Trebbiano Spoletino minimum 50%, other grapes 0-50%. Trebbiano Spoletino is grown outside the Montefalco delineated region as well, so you may see a variety of labels.

Trebbiano Spoletino is a white wine with a richer texture and more full body compared to Grechetto.

Skin Fermented White Wines – DOC and IGT
Skin contact and skin-fermented white wines (aka orange wines) are more than just a curiosity in Montefalco. Many winegrowers are at least experimenting and many have fully embraced this traditional method of making wine. Allowing skin contact before fermentation or even fermenting white wines on their skins means one needs to research the wine just a bit (or ask in the shop), as the bottle could contain either a typical white wine where the grapes are harvested and the juice is immediately pressed off. However, they are well worth exploring if you are interested in this area of re-discovery for wines.

Skin fermented white wines usually gain additional aromas, flavors, texture and even a bit of tannic structure. The aromas and flavors exhibit citrus and especially citrus peel, apricot, herbs and earth.  I find they taste best a bit warmer than typical white wine, showing very well just below room temperature. Trebbiano Spoletino wines are typically priced $15 to $25 in the US.

Red Blends with Sangiovese, Sagrantino

Montefalco Rosso DOC
Montefalco blending rules: Sangiovese 60-80%, Sagrantino 10-25%, other grapes 0-30%. Montefalco Rosso offers an affordable and delicious introduction to Sagrantino. While it is immediately approachable and friendly due to majority Sangiovese, you’ll get a sense of the power and tannic structure from the Sagrantino even though it is only a fraction of the blend. Think of Montefalco Rosso as Sagrantino “training wheels”, or a wine to drink while you allow the Sagrantino to age. The wine is very adaptable to a wide variety of foods and will pair with anything you would usually pair with Sangiovese based wines. Montefalco Rosso wines are usually priced $15 to $25 in the US.

Montefalco Sagrantino

Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG
Sagrantino is the flagship grape and wine for the Montefalco community in Umbria. Sagrantino is the most tannic wine grape in the world. It’s native to this region and is generally very well suited to the geography and the climate, needing long hot summers to ripen. There is no blending, Montefalco Sagrantino is required to be 100% Sagrantino, minimum alcohol of 13% (usually quite a bit higher). The minimum aging requirement is 37 months, starting Dec. 1 of vintage year with at least 12 months in oak. Most winemakers keep the wine in oak much longer than 12 months.

Montefalco Sagrantino is usually medium to deep ruby in color. It is a big wine, full of deep dark blue and black fruits. It offers full body with both lively acidity and bold tannins when young. Having had the opportunity to taste a variety of vintages, I would suggest holding the wine for 7-10 years if possible. The tannins relax and become very fine grained at that point and the wine will be very appealing. If young, I would suggest opening the wine several hours in advance and letting it open up in a decanter.  Even young it can easily be enjoyed with grilled meats especially. Expect to pay $30 to $50 in the US.

Montefalco Sagrantino – Passito (Sweet)

Montefalco Sagrantino Passito DOCG
Sagrantino was traditionally made into a sweet wine, only appearing in a dry version in the 1970’s, achieving DOC certification in 1975 and DOCG in 1992. To make the sweet wine, Sagrantino grapes are harvested, then laid on straw mats to dry, concentrating the sugars. After at least 2 months of drying, the dessicated grapes are made into Sagrantino Passito. The wine must be 100% Sagrantino, with a minimum alcohol of 14.5%. The minimum aging is 37 months aging, starting Dec. 1 of vintage year, however, oak aging is not required. The residual sugar (RS) in the wine ranges from 80-180 g/l. The wine is deep dark, with accompanying dark fruits. It is very sweet, but offset with lively acidity and plenty of tannins, it is still delicious and refreshing. Montefalco Sagrantino Passito wines are priced $30 to $50 per half-bottle in the US.

Sparkling Wines & Rosato

Sparkling
Many of the wineries have fun passion projects including rosato, sparkling wines in a variety of styles, and other IGT blends. Prices vary, but expect to pay $15 to $25 in the US. You’ll just have to visit and try them all!

Spirits – Grappa

Spirits
Finally, every Italian wine region worth its’ salt will have a grappa made from local grapes. At Colle Ciocco, they send the spent grape must up to the Berta distillery to be made into grappa. A perfect digestif, and firewater!

Montefalco Wines in the United States

By no means complete, here are some producers with good distribution in the US

 

 

 

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