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Great things come for those who wait: Anteprima Sagrantino 2011

Sagrantino, the red muscle wine of Umbria, the "king of tannins" had its days of glory this week, during Anteprima Sagrantino held in Montefalco on the 23rd and 24th February 2015.
The event, organized by Consorzio Tutela Vini Montefalco (association of local producers), represented the debut of vintage 2011 to the press and operators.

Why vintage 2011 in 2015?
According to the regulation of production Sagrantino needs to be aged in barrels (and refined in bottle) for a minimun of 37 months,  that it's more than 3 years. This long aging period is necessary to tame the wild tannins typical of this grape, to turn their natural strength into elegant notes.

Vintage 2011 vs. harvest 2014
Anteprima Sagrantino also offered the opportunity to make important considerations between vintage 2011 and harvest 2014 (whose vintage will be released in 3 years).
Two very different years, characterized by very opposite seasons: hot and dry the first, cold and wet the second.
I'm sure that those who traveled to Umbria (and Italy) last Summer remember the very strange weather that we had, not the typical Mediterranean season, with peaks of heat and lack of water, but humid and less warm.

The last will be the first
An ancient proverb says: "the vine needs to suffer", meaning that, in a certain sense,  the vine needs to be stressed to produce a good wine. Between a dry and hot season and a rainy and damp one, the  first it's definitely better. Humidity is the enemy number one for the vine as it makes the perfect environment for fungus and diseases.
During Spring and Summer 2014 protecting the grapes from adversities was really difficult. All over the region and the Country, 2014 was a very demanding year in terms of agronomic management of the vineyards.
However, where this management was prudent, accurate, very scientific and - at the same time - full of passion and devotion (not only in Montefalco area, everywhere also for other varieties) - the quality of the grapes was more than satisfying.
Sagrantino is a late grape, its harvest time begins one month and even more later than the other varieties like Sangiovese, for example. A peculiar characteristic that par chance  helped this grapevine,  considering the seasonal trend.
While Spring and Summer were very rainy, October and also the beginning of November (period of ripening/harvest for Sagrantino) was warm, dry and sunny. A favourable weather for late varieties.

The table below, although quite "technical", shows that the data connected to all the important parameters are not so different between vintage 2011 and 2014, considering the very difficult year. Vintage 2014 will not have bad surprises when ready to be released. Probably even this year will lead to good balanced Sagrantino.

[Speech/slide by Oenologist Riccardo Cotarella]

The tasting room: 25 wineries 200 labels to taste
Vintage 2011 my first impressions
I tasted "randomly" some samples from the 25 wineries that took part to the event (I couldn't try all the 200 labels, sorry) and I can say that 2011 tasted really good. In particular, I was very impressed by the incredible bouquet: the blackberries and blueberries together with an intense hint of spices are perfectly balanced and very elegant.
Giving that Sagrantino is a wine that needs to stay in bottle for some months (some wines were bottled just few time ago, some other were "barrel samples") the tannins demanded some more weeks to express more elegance i.e. they will be in perfect shape for your next wine tour in Spring and Summer!

More information: Consorzio Tutela Vini Montefalco

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