Sagrantino Festival: 30 Enologica Montefalco

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Apologies for the lag in blogging, it’s been a wild and
crazy 2 weeks!  Visitors, dinners,
classes, a story book wedding, and of course, the ogoing quest for the best
pizza in Umbria. It will take me a few blog posts to catch up.

You know it really is fall when the Montefalco Sagrantino
festival rolls around.  Sagrantino
is Umbria’s most prestigious red wine and this year most wine maker’s were
releasing their 2006 vintage; although some makers will hold the wine in wood
longer than the required 12 months to soften some of the characteristic tannic
edge. By law, Sagrantino must be made from 100% Sagrantino grapes and it must
age for a minimum of 30 months, with at least 12 months in wood.

It’s a tough wine, austere, lean, and really needs to be
drunk along with some sort of protein. It makes a fine companion to a good
grilled piece of Umbrian meat. What that really means is the wine ranges from
paint stripper to a sip from the holy grill, which leads to visions of charred
steaks sizzling on that grill. Yes, Holy Grill. 

Because palate fatigue is inevitable at these type of
events, this year I concentrated on looking for wines that were a bit more
unusual and I stayed away from all but a few of the Sagrantino. Palate fatigue
syndrome is when you are trying to get a whiff of lavender from your glass, but
your brain is saying…”Please….give me some water…!” Wine tastings are hard
work!

My hands down favorite new wine is Predara from Romanelli.
Light, easy to drink, but full flavored, it would work well with white meats, fish
and cheese. And at 6,50 euro a bottle, it won’t cause wallet shock.

An interesting grape that is being resurrected is the
Trebbiano Spoletino.  A variety of
the common Trebbiano grape, the Trebbiano Spoletino was nearly extinct and is
now being actively cultivated. We tried it spumante style (bubbly) and still.
Cantina Novelli has a Trebbiano Spoletino Riserva that is particularly yummy.

The actual festival is a four-day event, with tastings every
evening.  The tastings take place
in Montefalco’s centro storico, in a gorgeous palazzo. This year they set up
crates full of each type of grape so that we could taste them. Great idea!
There was also an exhibit of ‘cask art’; who says a barrel has to be boring?

The Enological Sagrantino festival occurs in mid-September,
so wine lovers and Umbria lovers, mark it on your calendar for next year.

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