April 24, 2013

Wine: Drama of Montefalco reds commands attention

By Joe Appel

(Continued from page 1)

San Clemente "Ilucis" Sagrantino 2010, $19 (SoPo). This is actually not a blend, but a 100 percent Sagrantino wine that carries an "Umbria IGT" status because the wine ages in barrel for only nine months, far short of the 29 required for DOCG wines. It's tannic and big, but if you open it several hours in advance of drinking, you'll find much to love.

It's sweaty and spicy, like pepperoni wrapped in black fruits. Unfortunately, my timing didn't allow me to drink it with smoked sausages cooked on the grill, but that's the call. Not as (relatively) soft as a Montefalco Rosso, the Ilucis is definitely tannic, slightly rough but in the end delicious. And a Sagrantino wine without straight-up deliciousness, somewhere in the mix, misses the whole point.

Perticaia Montefalco Rosso 2008, $24 (Easterly). I fell for Perticaia years ago when I got a tantalizing sip. Then I made it to Umbria and drank it as often as I could. This is the full-on real deal, with the usual blend altered by a substitution of Colorino (often used in Tuscany to deepen the color of Chianti) for Merlot. I love the character of the Sangiovese in the Perticaia: that dust-caked boots thing, a cooling fireplace, baking chocolate. Probably due to the Sagrantino, the wine's dastardly finish is all licorice and beef jerky. Splendid wine, molto autentico.

Milziade Antano Montefalco Rosso 2009, $25 (Devenish). Antano's Sagrantino (current vintage: 2005) is a rough-hewn monster, made in a very traditional, low-intervention style, and I expected this Rosso to be a baby brother to it. But it's much tamer than I expected, as Sangiovese cherries and pepper jelly mingle with Sagrantino's umph-y bump-n-grind.

I once left a glass' worth in a refrigerated bottle for six days, after which the wine took on fascinating tertiary traits: aromas a bit cheesy, flavors of creamed mushroom soup, the texture smoothed out and fine.

It was a grand tribute to the underlying structure of the wine, and a true-to-form final act for wines from Montefalco that are built to last.

Joe Appel works at Rosemont Market. His blog, soulofwine.com, continues the conversation, and he can be reached at soulofwine.appel@gmail.com.


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