The best rare wine grapes in the world: Sagrantino

What is sagrantino wine?

Sagrantino wine comes from the sagrantino grape variety. And it’s an astounding grape variety.

It’s also an interesting grape because it has no know close relatives. It has its own utterly unique branch on the wine grape family tree. Some say it was brought back from Asia by followers of St Francis in the 14th Century, although its origins are not 100% clear.

It matures late and it has excellent ageing potential due to its high levels of polyphenol. Other grape varieties are high in polyphenol include Cabernet Sauvignon or Nebbiolo.

The grapes themselves tend to be spherical, medium is size with black skin covered in a stratum of whitish bloom. Its clusters are medium to small, cylindrical or conical-cylindrical. The leaf is medium sized, rounded and three-pronged.

Where is sagrantino grown?

It’s mainly grown in a tiny area just north of Rome.

The region is very difficult to farm in any industrial sense. The growing area starts at about 220m above sea level up to 472m for the tallest hills, where finely balanced medieval towns glare down upon them.

The sagrantino vines survive in micro-climates among the nooks and crannies of the steep hills and unforgiving rock.

It favours medium textured soil with high silica and clay content. It can suffer from the colds of winter and spring, and is of irregular production.

What is the best sagrantino wine?

There are only about 50 sagrantino producers in that spot just north of Rome. From this select group, we rate Scacciadiavoli Montefalco Sagrantino, 2016, Umbria, Italy. It’s big, bold and exuberant, lip-smacking and spicy. Our wine experts Arnaud Compas and Keith Lyon gave it a score of 92/100 when we tested it out.

It’s part of our high-altitude wines collection, called the Peak Vintner’s case.