Umbria's Jewel Uncorked

"Let me tell you now, something’s got a hold on me (Oh, it must be love)" ~ Etta James.

Ms. James, a beautiful talent, whose music I really adore, perfectly sums up for me, my feelings and impressions about one of my latest epicurean excursions into the Italian wine scene, one found via this bottle of Sagrantino from Antonelli.

I was fortunate enough to be invited on a wonderful trip into the heart of Umbria and Campania [2012] with the International Wine and Tourism Conference which was held in Campania that year. Part of the tour was spent, getting to know, the fantastic (sadly flying under the radar) Sagrantino DOCG. After uncorking this beauty [seen above] more than a few moons ago, it really brought back the fresh, vibrant memories of that trip.

I had the good fortune to hang out with some of the very best food and wine writers [bloggers] in the U.S. and also at the same time, the experience of being trapped in freak snowstorm [bonus] it was late January and early February of 2012. The fun of (slurping and sipping) sampling through some best wines being produced in Umbria was and is still an unforgettable life moment.

Unfortunately, far too many of these wines still remain largely unknown to the average, garden variety, vino-sapiens. Hopefully, this review will change that trend just a bit, by shining a bright lamp on one of the unsung  Sagrantino di Montefalco heroes of the Italian wine scene.

Frankly, at the time I was also guilty of not entirely having much more than a cursory knowledge about the many splendid wines from this region. But that experience has taught me one thing, never stop exploring. I'm continually challenging myself and my palate to sample, sip, slurp and spit my way through previously unexplored regions. 

I can no longer accept the notion "this is it, there's nothing more to see here." It's time to just settle for mundane domestically produced conformity, blech. That would be an unfortunate statement for anyone to make, but it is a decision I see a few vino-sapiens making. But I don't think they even realize it. How do I know? Because I've been in their shoes, and it was not so many years ago either, wallowing in abject wine-mediocrity, a self-imposed wine-ghetto if you will ha.

It is with that thought in mind that I offer one thing further regarding travel. From my few experiences, don't just visit new lands or place like a picture-taking [tourist] zombie, instead become a traveler. Yep, that's right slow-your-roll for just a moment. Drill deep, right down into the bedrock of the places you visit; soak it in and never let it go [If this sounds like a bit of over-the-top navel-gazing, you have my apologies in advance].

Do I grow from these adventures; I like to think I have. I am thrilled I had the opportunity to explore this great wine region in Italy, and I invite you to do the same by uncorking something new and novel tonight, like this bottle of Sagrantino seen above. This wine which is unlike so many other wines, you may encounter, offers real soul and substance, which is part of the reason my score for this wine is 93 points. The average price of this wine is USD 50, but in my opinion, it's well worth the price of admission. I understand that for most folks, this may not be an everyday drinker, and possibly more like a weekend treat, but again, one well worth the wait.

This delightful gem pictured at the very top is from the Montefalco DOCG a delightfully aromatic wine, which immediately grabs your attention, and for me, it was love at first slurp. The nose immediately opened up with a blast of crushed blackberry fruit, dark ripe cherries that grabs your senses and doesn't let go.

On the first slurp (none of that dainty sipping here) down, you'll encounter abundant dark fruits dark plum and vivid blackberry, vague minerality, smooth tannins [but firm] a light sprinkle of chalk and long lingering finish, that will have you coming back for more. Even though this wine would be considered very dry by some standards, there is enough dark plumy, dark cherry juiciness, coupled with fresh, rich earth flavors to keep you very interested.

The structure is quite complex, some smoked licorice, laid over massive tannins and a barrel full of stunning mouth-watering acidity that makes this wine a perfect match with any Italian theme dish you could ever imagine throwing at it. This wine is also high on its own. Frankly, I could not get enough of this wine; it just draws you in over and over, a real head-turner.

“Umbria and the wine revolution it has experienced over the past 30 years makes for big potential in a small package,” ~ Winemaker Riccardo Cotarella

Full Disclosure: Yes this bottle was sent as a sample for the review process. I wish the bottle had arrived in a bit better condition, as wine had pushed its way up past the cork and leaked a bit into the capsule. But after a full month's rest in the cellar, it seemed to straighten out any of the potential issues it may have had. Until next time folks, remember life is too short to reach for uncorking that same bottle of domestically produced wine again, explore, but remember to sip long and prosper cheers!


Hi Bill, I couldn't agree more with your comment [paraphrased] of exploring other wine regions throughout the world, instead of remaining content with domestic vino solo. We have so much amazing domestic wine, to be sure, but it is also a VERY big world out there! Go explore!! Might I suggest New Zealand! What a wonderful land of wineries, culture and beauty to, as you say, "Drill deep, right down into the bedrock of the places you visit; soak it in and never let it go ". Perfect comment! Look forward to meeting you at WBC2014!
Miki "This is the Life" Winer of The Vineyard Trail
Will Eyer said…
Hi Miki,

Glad to hear your share my thoughts on wine exploration. New Zealand is definitely on the bucket list, but first I've a few more old world destinations to visit before making the trek there.

I look forward to seeing you at the conference as well.



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