EATALY CELEBRATES SAGRANTINO MONTH IN NYC 2nd Annual Event

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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.

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Spoleto, home of the arts and music festival in east central Umbria.

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.

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Montefalco Wine Region

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.”

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Sagrantino grapes

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. 

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Looking into the valley of wine producers below. (Spello)

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.

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Franciscan monks nurtured the Sagrantino grapes in vineyards like St. Leonard’s in Montefalco to produce their sacramental wines. (Painting: Blessing the birds and the beasts.)

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.

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Sagrantino Montefalco DOCG

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

Antonelli San Marco

Arnaldo-Caprai

Perticaia

Scacciadiavoli

Tenuta Castelbuono

About caroleditosti

Carole Di Tosti, Ph.D. is an Entertainment Journalist, unpublished novelist, poet and playwright. Writing is my life. When I don't write I am desolate. Carole Di Tosti has over 1000 articles, reviews, and other writings online. Carole Di Tosti writes for Blogcritics, Theater Pizzazz and other New York theater websites; Carole Di Tost free-lanced for VERVE and wrote for Technorati for 2 years until the site changed its focus. Carole Di Tosti attends the premiere film festivals in NYC and on LI: Tribeca FF, NYFF, DOC NY, Hamptons IFF, NYJewish FF. She also covers SXSW film.

Posted on February 17, 2013, in NYC Download, Wine Tastings. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Sounds positively divine! I love your wine pairing tips. I think we often hesitate to purchase a new wine without having an idea of what it will best accompany.

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  2. Thanks. That is so true. In the past I have bought a wine thinking it would go with a dish because of the color of the wine, not the taste…i.e. red color, red meat. What a mistake!!! I am just coming out of the woods on this as I become more knowledgeable about wine. I have a way to go. 😉 Thanks for your perspective.

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  3. So, I gave up wine for Lent. . . 🙂 And now it is everywhere around me, including your posts, Carole. HA! I love this NYC blog of yours. Great post.

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  4. lolol. Yes, I know what you mean. I gave up wine for the longest time because of the sulfates, then I was invited to wine tastings. At least with the tastings, you can spit it out. lolol

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  5. Picture 2 is Spoleto not Montefalco. Picture 5 is Spello not Montefalco. Sagrantino is a gigantic wine but the best wineries are not attending Eataly this time. Top 3 = Bea, Tabarrini, Colleallodole!

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    • Well, I did get it off a site that did not clarify, but stated it was Montefalco. How do you know the difference? I do hope by your travels or because you possess an Italian passport or an American passport or hold dual citizenship…or are a travel agent. Are you an expert in the wine business? a marketeer? or a representative of Bea, Tabarrini and/or Colleallodole? Just wondering how you have formed your opinions…that would offer excellent credibility to your response of what “TOP 3” means…whether in production or product or pricing or anything else. Thanks. Win,e like everything else, is a matter of taste and opinion, unfortunately. What is important is that Americans become more familiar with Italian wines from various parts of the regions of Italy. C’est v’rai?

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