A guide to Montefalco wines: Sagrantino, Rosso, Grechetto

  • 28/12/2020

​As soon as you look at the Umbrian village of Montefalco, it is immediately clear why this village, with its medieval history, has been included in the circuit of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Located in the province of Perugia, thanks to the enchanting geographical position, Montefalco has obtained the nickname "Railing of Umbria". From its numerous viewpoints it is possible to observe glimpses of pure beauty ranging from Perugia to Assisi, up to Spello, Foligno, Spoleto and Trevi. Among the hills covered with olive groves and vineyards that surround it, you can also see the Apennines, the reliefs of Subasio and the Martani Mountains.

The winemaking excellence of Montefalco

Montefalco is one of the very rare Roman cities where viticulture was practiced “intra moenia” (within the city walls). Plinio il Veccchio, the roman writer and philosopher, in his encyclopedic work on natural sciences, "Naturalis Historiae", tells of a particularly valuable wine made from Hitriola grapes. Subsequent studies have ascertained that this cannot be identified with what we know today as the "Sagrantino" grape which, according to some, was imported by Franciscan friars returning from Asia Minor. The oenological fortune of Montefalco comes from this grape, grown only and exclusively in these hills.

Marco Castignani, external relations and communication manager for Tenute del Cerro, describes the characteristics of the three great indigenous wines protagonists of the local wine scene that are produced in Còlpetrone: Sagrantino, Rosso and Grechetto di Montefalco.

Sagrantino di Montefalco

The wine that has become the symbol of the town is certainly the Sagrantino di Montefalco which was born as a party wine, a sweet wine, to be paired with the Umbrian Easter cake. The Sagrantino vine grows in the green hills around Montefalco, thanks to a combination of factors such as territory, climate and care of the Umbrian winemakers.

The Disciplinary provides for a monovarietal grape, therefore 100% Sagrantino. Aging is one of the peculiar characteristics of Sagrantino di Montefalco. In total, it must age for 37 months (counted from 1 December), at least 12 in wood.

Sagrantino is a solemn, full, alcoholic wine, with powerful tannins: one of the most tannic wines that exist in the world. When it is young, it shows to the eye a very dark ruby color. As it ages, it becomes garnet. It smells of black cherries, small berries, earthy notes, red flowers, cinchona and anise. On the palate it is full, warm and with a long lasting finish. Its tannic texture is seductive.

Rosso di Montefalco

The uniqueness of the territory is also transmitted to Montefalco Rosso which is wrongly considered the younger brother of Sagrantino. The Disciplinare del Rosso is an expression of the variety of vineyards present in the Montefalco area: from Sangiovese to Sagrantino to other red berried grapes. Each winery can decide which grapes to use (in compliance with the percentages provided), configuring a unique product, which reflects the creativity and style of the estate.

Montefalco Rosso DOC has a characteristic ruby red color, on the nose is delicate and vinous. On the palate it is pleasantly dry with fruity notes. Easy to pair with savory and moderately spiced first courses and grilled meats.

Montefalco Grechetto

Umbria is historically considered the land of white wines thanks to the presence of Greek wines. Grechetto is produced in the Còlpetrone estate, a few steps from Montefalco. The so-called “greek” grapes are Mediterranean grapes that have found the best soil to grow in Umbria. The manually harvested grapes are softly pressed at a maximum pressure of 0.2 bar; the must obtained, after a first phase of cold static decantation, is sent for fermentation at a temperature between 12 ° and 15 ° C. After the alcoholic fermentation, the wine ages in contact with its own fine lees for a period of about 3 months undergoing continuous pumping over.

This wine, particularly long-lived, has very interesting olfactory characteristics. It is a dry wine that presents a range of lively aromas on the nose as well as in the mouth. Sweet fruit, white and yellow flowers and a good acidic freshness keep it alive and persistent. It can be paired with first courses or light second courses.

The style of Còlpetrone, an historic winery in Montefalco

“Còlpetrone - explains Marco Castignani - is the largest private estate producing Sagrantino. This milestone was achieved thanks to a specific forward-looking strategic vision. At the end of the 1980s we chose to invest in this territory when only few producers had realized how great its potential was. Today, 30 years later, the market is small but very solid. Còlpetrone understood in advance the potential of this wine and decided to invest in the territory, setting new standards ". 

The first vintages of Sagrantino and Montefalco Rosso were produced in what is now called "Old Còlpetrone", an ancient farmhouse a few kilometers from the current headquarters. The immediate and very important acknowledgments obtained from the first Sagrantino harvests convinced the property to invest more and more in the territory with progressive acquisitions both in the municipality of Gualdo Cattaneo and in Montefalco. With the building of the new cellar, inaugurated in 2005, we achieved the goal of a structure designed in harmony with the territory; the vinification and aging place is incorporated within the hillside, to ensure constant temperature and humidity conditions and minimum environmental impact.

Today it is a company of 63 hectares of vineyards, 35 are for the production of Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG and Sacer Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG. Còlpetrone also produces Rosso di Montefalco DOC, the well-known Umbrian white wine from Grechetto grapes​ and Montefalco Sagrantino Passito DOCG: the richest wine in the world in terms of vitamins and polyphenols and the only one that, despite being sweet, manages to remain tannic.

The third way of Còlpetrone Montefalco Sagrantino

“In Còlpetrone for some years we have been experimenting the third way of Sagrantino” - says Marco Castignani. “It starts from a ripening of the grapes pushed to the extreme limit (being very careful not to fall into over-ripening). The clusters enjoy total exposure to the heat of the sun, thanks to careful management of the spurred cordon. This vine growing system is commonly used for Sagrantino, because the vine requires exposure to the light of the bunches, while the Guyot creates shading situations. On the ​plant, a thinning of 50% of the bunches is achieved when the grapes have reached 80% of natural ripeness. In particular, the bunches farthest from the stem are cut, those that would have more difficulty absorbing potassium. The potassium in fact, gives "character" to the grapes, but is not easy to assimilate, so great attention is paid to capturing it in the bunches closest to the trunk.

Finally, these selected and rich grapes are vinified through a different process than the normal one: the skins are separated during fermentation - when only 70% of the sugars have already been transformed into alcohol. 30% of the "new" Sagrantino ferments without the skins, to avoid an excessive concentration of polyphenols. The result is a wine with not excessive richness of ripe tannins, ready to drink and truly enjoyable."

Visiting this special location of Tenute del Cerro offers the exclusive opportunity to participate in Sagrantino vertical tasting or the most typical wines of this territory.



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