Sagrantino produces rich, dark wines that I find to be unpleasantly pretty much all tannins and virtually no fruit. These are wines that are need to be consumed with a lot of fat to help mitigate those tannins. Even with a fatty, tasty grilled Fiorentina cut of steak during the trip – seemingly the ideal complement to the wine – I still did not like the few-year-old Sagrantino with it. The simpler boxed red wine that I switched back to was not only more pleasing alone but a much better pairing the steak to my tastes. According to a manager at one of the wineries visited during the trip, Sagrantino typically needs nearly a decade before the wines are truly palatable as the tannins finally become integrated and mostly tamed while more pleasing flavors come to the fore. I can see that.
However, I did find a Sagrantino that I really enjoyed while in Umbria. Our new friend at the Chiorri winery, conveniently located across the street from the villa we had rented, wanted us to try one of their rosés, the Ventorosa - Rosato I.G.T. dell’ Umbria that is made with 100% Sagrantino. I was a bit worried when I saw it was all Sagrantino but trusted her. And It was delicious. And there was fruit. I sensed strawberry, maybe blackberry and even a hint of pomegranate in a typically dry style with a very nice finish. Even vinified to 13.5%, this dry rosé was scarily easy to drink alone and the two bottles disappeared quickly among our group. Those aggressive tannins in the typical red versions of Sagrantino were pretty much absent, as they should be in a rosé.
I don’t believe that this wine is available in the U.S. I found it was just €6.90 (about $8) on a German site and at the Chiorri winery it is just around €5.20 (around $6). Ridiculously inexpensive for such a quality wine, and one that I liked better than the Provencal rosés I have been consuming this spring and summer for several dollars more. There is hope for Sagrantino for me yet, if for now in paler shade than usual for the grape.