For the big, bold red lover who is ready for a new discovery. Big chewy tannin, dense red fruit, splendidly robust. Like Dry Creek Zin fruit meets hulking Italian mountain wine with forest-floor and delicate florals that grow with age. Massive but detailed and fine-grained. Forget Super Tuscans, give this a try!
While Sagrantino can play the ancient grape card, having probably been mentioned by Pliny the Elder according to some, it is also one of the wine world’s great new rediscoveries. Native to the isolated Montefalco area of Umbria, it enjoyed a long history as a sweet wine dating back to 1598, at least as documented, but dry Sagrantino is a new invention going back to only 1980. Why? In short it has a wealth of tannin, and only more recently, gentle handling techniques have finally tamed them. It is a grape that really pushes back, with crazy high sugar production, low, yield, and massive dryness that is not shy, but also capable of great complexity.
On the personal level, planting Prima Materia’s ½-acre of Sagrantino in 2012 required an 800-mile road trip to Eastern Washington to pick up the vines, which were unavailable in California, then losing 35% of them under a foot of snow in 2013. In 2018 we lost 30% of the vintage in an accident that flooded the barrel room. It is a most troubled and demanding love, and after planting it in 2012, the first bottling was released in the summer of 2019. This only our second release of it, almost 10 years after planting it.
Vineyard: Sagrantino here offers a serious terroir match. Altitude, clay and rock soils, and a warm Fall. The trick with Sagrantino is to get the crazy tannin under control before the sugars go ballistic. Sagrantino works with cordon and spur pruning, but its incredibly leafy nature photosynthesizes rocket fuel, sometimes reading 13% a month before we can even imagine picking with the raw, face ripping tannin. We now snap laterals and remove leaves to choke back the photosynthetic sugar accumulation and buy some tannin maturing time.
Winemaking: All moved by hand and buckets, bin fermentations usually taking two weeks and handled very gently. No pumps are used until after fermentation is complete.
The wine: Sagrantino can be an absolute beast of dense fruit and massive, face-ripping tannin, and this one is at at a medium+ level with moderate mouth-coating tannin and firm red and dark-toned fruit that is saturated throughout the palate like unsweetend raspberry and blackberry jam, wet earth, and high-toned floral elements starting to evolve. As our young vines mature, they seem to focus more of their energy on body and density, followed by ripe red fruit components with a faint whiff of the dust, herbs and delicate flowers that the Italian benchmarks of this grape promise. Sagrantino has enough fruit for California enthusiasts, on par with a great Zinfandel, but with more cedar and massive fine-grained tannin and a little lees stirring to coat the tannins and meld things together. It is drinkable now (decanting is highly recommended since air will help soften tannins and bring out fruit) but it will age gracefully, developing earth and herb tones plus delicacy with more bottle time. 14.8% ABV
Label Image: The image depicts the green lion eating the sun (“vitriol” purifying matter and yielding gold) in a 1622 alchemy text, which was a very common and frequently reproduced instruction manual for making gold. But, this particular image is a source of much controversy both in the chemical and metaphysical sense due to the backward opertions, and it may apply to an individual being purified by the lion eating them, or its opposite destructive meeting. Such ambiguity is not uncommon in the highly interpretive alchemical arts.
100% Sagrantino (well, there is a tiny bit of Cabernet Franc and Vermentino in there, acouple percent or so)
Sgarntino clone FPS 01
Imported by Pepi in the 1990's, originally thought to be Sangiovese.
Yield: 1.5 tons per acre
4 neutral barrels used for aging, mostly old thin stave French and thicker Hungarian oak
No racking until bottling
160 cases produced
top of page
bottom of page