Sagrantino, the native grape of Montefalco

How old and how native Sagrantino actually is has always been subject to debate. But there are also numerous testimonies previous to these. Pliny the Elder, in his Natural History (Naturalis Historia) reminds us that that Itriolan grape was cultivated in the Mevania area (in Roman times Montefalco was part of the Municipality of Bevagna), and in the Piceno area: “Itriola Umbriae Mevanatique et Piceno agro peculiaris est.” Some sources suggest that this grape variety was imported from Asia Minor by followers of St. Francis returning from their missionary trips sometime during the 14th-15th centuries.

Other theories about the origins of Sagrantino claim that the grape is native to Spain and that it was the Saracens who first brought it to the area. However, as the Sagrantino variety does not seem to show any similarity to other grape varieties, it can be considered a local grape variety (Commission for the Ampelographic Study of Principal Wine Grape Varieties Cultivated in Italy – Italian Ministry of Agriculture).There is thus no relationship between Sagrantino and other known grape varieties cultivated in Central Italy as well, contrary to what is often believed.

More recently the contemporary perspective of this vine and its wine are profoundly changed. From sweet wine, still produced and protected from the DOCG in the “passito”, a great dry wine, able to release power, complexity and elegance, as well as an extraordinary polyphenolic richness that gives color, structure and great aging potential.

Terrain and climate

The town of Montefalco and its surroun¬ding hills have a continental climate. Ba¬sed on the reference average temperature of the last thirty years from 1961 to 1990, the average temperature registered in the coldest month, i.e. January, is +3.8°C, whi¬le the one of the hottest month, i.e. July, is +25.3°C.

Annual average rainfalls are about 700 mm and distributed on 89 days on avera¬ge, with a relative minimum rainfall and the summer and a peak in autumn. Snow falls about seven times a year in towns, sometimes also with quite heavy snowdri¬fts. About 40 days of frost are registered on average every year.