Sagrantino: the orphan grape
Sagrantino is an astounding grape variety. It's also fascinating.
The vine has no known close relatives. It is believed to have been brought to Europe in the 14th century from Asia by followers of Saint Francis returning from evangelical voyages.
Sagrantino should belong among grape royalty, alongside Cabernet Sauvignon or Nebbiolo. It's late-maturing and one of the few varieties that's high in polyphenol, which means excellent ageing potential.
The grapes are medium-sized, spherical, with black skin covered in a stratum of whitish bloom.
It favours medium textured soil with high silica and clay content. It can suffer the colds of winter and spring. And it's of irregular production.
Perched up, just north of Rome
Sagrantino has survived until now in a tiny region north of Rome. It is a ridiculously small area. The land climbs gently up the slopes from 220m above sea level to 472m on the tallest hills, where medieval towns are perched.
Steep hills, rock structures make this region very hostile to arable land. The vines survive in a constellation of microclimates.
And to drink: Wow
Big, bold and exuberant, lip-smacking and spicy Scacciadiavoli beast. Purple on the edges and black in the middle. Ripe red and black fruit, exotic spice, star anise, cardamon. Anise liquor, dense, very well integrated tannin. Wild thyme smoked black pepper, slightly under-ripe blackberries and campfire hash on the palate. Spectacular!
Approach: Winegrower who loves their vineyard, Sustainable