Sagrantino is Italy’s most tannic grape. By far. On the positive side, sure, that helps make it an extremely age worthy wine. But the degree of difficulty it takes to produce a palatable wine that can be enjoyed without lying it down for too many years is high. Avid fans of the grape seem to know to brace themselves for the challenge, and more importantly know to have a big steak at the ready when a bottle has been opened. But with Umbrias penchant for the big, bold and modern style, there are only a couple of producers that practice stylistic restraint in their approach. Sagrantino may always be a challenge for those seeking balanced wines, but there is no denying that its ability to pack a punch is a clear and unique differentiator that turns plenty of heads in the wine world.
Fongoli wines represent the tradition guard, old school style winemaking in Montefalco. Certified Organic and Biodynamically farmed vineyards and zero additives in the winemaking process. Their property is teaming with life and biodiversity, planted to different crops and grains making for a balanced closed ecosystem. Angelo Fongoli is the fourth generation in charge of the farm and feels that you can’t begin to make terroir driven wines without having fully made a completely healthy environment for your grapes and soils. All of their Sagrantino is aged in large Slavonian oak to make certain there is no impartation of flavor or, more importantly, any wood tannin.
Immediately reminded of the love I have opening a good Barolo. Not because the two grapes have much in common at all, but more because there is a pure power to the initial senses of this wine that let you know there are a lot layers to unpack here. Spicy bay leaf, earthy sagebrush stand out here, followed by a well loved dusty leather coat and a handful of black licorice. Although the wine is indeed dense with wild blackberries, the fruit is certainly on the back burner as this wine gradually opens up, giving room for the more savory tones. Allow it to take its time, but be sure to taste the evolution, as opposed to slamming it into a decanter. The tannins are beautifully integrated, remarkably, and Fongoli’s avoidance of any new oak becomes very obvious, and very welcome here.
Sagrantino di Montefalco was traditionally only made as a sweet wine. This was before there was more sufficient knowledge on how to avoid making a wine from this very aggressively tannic grape that didn’t rip your mouth to shreds.