Posted by: tomciocco | May 9, 2012


The typical images of the blue Italian coast somewhat sadly don’t apply to Umbria. As beautiful, and green, sweetly hilly and tranquil as Umbria is, it’s landlocked. This fact, in addition to Umbria’s incessant, largely unfair, but still understandable role as Tuscany’s little brother conspire to make a little Umbrian town like Montefalco a place that is “local” as it gets, and perhaps because of this, looks out at the world with a keen eye.

Montefalco’s flagship (pardon the misplaced maritime reference) grape/wine, which grows nowhere else, is unequivocally Sagrantino. As its name implies, it was for centuries used to make sacramental wine, and as that has always implied, with a certain level of sweetness, and when it wasn’t being blessed on the altar, Sagrantino was reserved as a sweet secular treat to be drunk after an important dinner with dried fruits, nuts, and strong cheeses.

In the mid-1960s a couple of the few growers and producers of this grape began to experiment with vinifying Sagrantino as a dry wine, and then not soon after, blending it first with Sangiovese, and then other varieties (including the local-ish Montepulciano as well as the decidedly International Merlot, which in fact appears in this blend). By the early 1990s a D.O.C.G. was established for Sagrantino di Montefalco, and a D. O. C. for Montefalco which can be both red and white.

This bottle is a blend of 70% Sangiovese (the maximum allowed), 15% Sagrantino (the maximum allowed), and 15% Merlot (one of several permissable grapes, both native and foreign), aged for 18 months in large Slavonian oak casks (no French or American oak, and no barriques) makes this blend a mostly very traditional wine, with  the selection of Merlot as the balanceof the blend playing ythe role of the aforementioned “nod” if you will…

A big, burly, tradtionally-styled wine like this calls for simple but bold food to match, so I made a batch of rigatoni with two mushrooms and (s0me of the first New Jersey) asparagus, and then pan-fried thin top round steaks with a garlic, rosemary, wine, and grape tomato pan sauce with minted peas on the side.









Milziade Antano Montefalco Rosso 2009 

Slightly cloudy and browned deep garnet color. Big and bold nose of dried fruit, leather, smoke, juniper, spice cookies, and macerated mixed berries. In the mouth the wine is broad, powerful, rustic and intense, with a chunky texture, and “tall”, stiff, but sweet tannins, soft acidity, and a great balance that shows off beautifully integrated flavors of plum butter, grape skins, blood, and cranberry juice. Big, warm, and long black licorice finish. A wonderfully unmanipulated and place-driven wine.


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