EATALY CELEBRATES SAGRANTINO MONTH IN NYC 2nd Annual Event
My cousin who is a doctor in Perugia, Umbria is so fortunate. She has the opportunity to enjoy the vino locale whenever she wants. It has been a few years since I have been to visit and I miss everything I enjoyed about the region, the sounds, sights, tastes, smells, all of which combined to take my breath away and create an indelible experience of freshness and beauty.
In the region you will find Montefalco and its indigenous wine, the Sagrantino. Umbria, belovedly referred to as “The Green Heart of Italy,” was celebrated in NYC in the fall. It was then I happily took advantage of imbibing Umbrian wines and feasting on the delicious cuisine native to the region. I even purchased some Umbrian products at venues (i.e. Eataly, De Paolo’s Fine Foods) around the city as New York highlighted the month long events that Mayor Bloomberg proclaimed for the celebration of “I Love Umbria Month.”
Growing Popularity of Montefalco’s Signature Wine in the U.S.
By now familiar with the region and its cuisine, I was glad to learn that The Montefalco Consortium announced a 2nd annual ‘Sagrantino Month’ to be held at New York City’s Eataly in March. I have come to love Sagrantino wines, becoming acquainted with various Montefalco wineries which grow the finicky and spare grape vines. Producing these wines is a feat which requires concentrated effort, knowledge and determination to tease out a wonderful harvest that through experience and honed skill rewards us with the sumptuous, full bodied and rich tasting Montefalco Sagrantino.
This year’s Sagrantino Month celebration is part of a year-long, national Sagrantino campaign that includes events and promotions capitalizing on the momentum created by an increased American interest for the signature wine of Montefalco. Amilcare Pambuffetti, president of the Montefalco Consortium explains this thrust into the U.S. market. “Last year we introduced many Americans, both trade and consumer, to Sagrantino and the response was enthusiastic. This year we plan to build on the foundation we’ve established.”
Sagrantino Month Celebration at Eataly
The Sagrantino Month promotion at Eataly will include a trade seminar, consumer classes, tastings in the Eataly Wine Store, wine by the glass at all of Eataly’s restaurants and tastings in Eataly’s ‘La Piazza.’ The year-long promotion will continue with virtual tastings with US press, trade tastings, dedicated meetings for unrepresented producers, a consumer awareness and education program. From its quiet beginnings as a regional Umbrian wine, Sagrantino has become a favorite in Italy and producers are assured that as the American consumer becomes knowledgeable about Sagrantino it will become equally popular in the U.S.
There consumer classes at Eataly will be held on March 12 and March 28. Starting from March 1 to March 30, there will be free wine tastings at Eataly Vino every Friday, from 6 to 8pm, each time with a different producer.
Every Saturday a wine by the glass will be poured at the Le Eccellenze Corner inside the store, for just $10. Select wines of Montefalco will be available by the glass at each Eataly restaurant throughout the month and on sale at the wine store.
There are five participating wineries in the Sagrantino Month promotion: Antonelli San Marco, Arnaldo Caprai, Perticaia, Scacciadiavoli and Tenuta Castelbuono. Five more wineries will be involved in the other activities throughout the year, these are Colle Ciocco, Colle del Saraceno, Le Cimate, Romanelli and Tenuta Bellafonte.
If you are planning to indulge your love of Sagrantino or would like to have an introductory taste at Eataly and would like more information on the month long activities, visit www.consorziomontefalco.it.
About the Wines of Montefalco
Sagrantino grapes are indigenous to the region of Montefalco, Umbria and have a long history there. dating back to the 1700s, where the growing of grapes and wine making was suited to Umbria, the “green heart of Italy” and Montefalco, where documents of the time noted that “fine and delicate wines were produced there in ‘beautiful and good’ vineyards.” So much was this the case that municipal sanctions were strengthened to maintain and sustain the culture of thriving, glorious vineyards and sumptuous wines. If you hampered a winery in its noble and sacred endeavors, you were in big trouble. In 1622 Cardinal Boncompagni, the Pontifical delegate in Perugia, threatened “capital punishment for anyone found cutting down grape vines.” Cutting down a plant was worthy of death? Such was the symbolism, of grape vines and the vitality of wine to the culture and the church.
Sagrantino vines were cultivated in monasteries like St. Leonard and St. Claire where monks that made the wine used it for sacramental purposes and local farmers enjoyed the wine during festivals and religious holidays, including Christmas and Easter. The wine had a hearty following during the 20th century until after WWII when the vines and wine fell off and nearly disappeared in the 1960s. Thanks to the dedication of local producers with a romantic imagination and assiduous determination to bring back the Sagrantino grape and its luscious, full bodied wines, the Sagrantino DOC was granted in 1979 and the DOCG in 1992. Producers like Marco Caprai also elicited the help of the University of Milano to ensure that the Sagrantino vines burgeoned to yielding productive harvests. (The grapes are not prodigious and abundant in output and must be carefully nurtured.) As a result Sagrantino wines have become a favorite of Italy and are becoming globally known.
Wonderful points about Sagrantino is that it is suitable for long aging. It pairs well with many cuisines and is delicious with roasted meats like beef short ribs, pork loins, game and other meats that are juicy with bit of tasty fat. Other friends have told me that Sagrantino is delicious with spicy foods and of course, with cheeses like Granna Padano, Petite Basque, Robiola, or other sharp raw sheep’s or cow’s milk cheeses. I have found that Montefalco wines offer excellent quality without destroying one’s weekly wine budget. Two examples of high quality but affordable wines are the versatile Montefalco Rosso, a blend of principally Sangiovese, and Sagrantino, and the refreshing white blend known as Montefalco Bianco, made of the indigenous Grechetto, combined with Trebbiano and other grapes. The Montefalco Bianco pairs beautifully with fish dishes or light pasta dishes which sparingly use milk or cream.
Participating Wineries of Montefalco Celebrating at Eataly