Every year for us it's roughly the same story: pack the car, drive a thousand miles, eat and cook and eat, drink and drink and drink. Such is life. And, while we can't really complain, we do like to enjoy a little bit of the holidays without leaving our front door. In that spirit, we always selfishly cook a "second" Thanksgiving just for us. We stay true to all the holiday traditions: down a bottle of red wine, start an argument (just for sport), fall asleep in a food coma. While our dinner this year was light and simple (turkey breast, chorizo stuffing, spicy green beans, and cranberry sauce), the bottle of wine we paired with it was remarkable.
We are not unbiased wine consumers. When it comes to red wine we always gravitate towards really funky, dry, and leathery wines. An inexplicable yet irresistible combination of earth and musk. Anyone familiar with these sensibilities knows this road always leads to cabernet franc. The oft-forgotten father of its more famous and fabulous offspring: cabernet sauvignon. I was discussing my love for cab franc at one of my favorite Amherst drinkeries about a year ago when a friend pointed me towards a little-known Italian varietal, sagrantino.
The sagrantino grape is indigenous to the Umbria region of central Italy and only grown by about 25 vineyards in and around Montefalco. Our first introduction to this grape was the Perticaia Montefalco Sagrantino. Perticaia is located in the heart of Montefalco and is the vintner of choice for experiencing the sagrantino varietal (you can't name your wine Sagrantino di Montefalco without being 100% sagrantino.... so, there's that).
We'll be the first to admit that we rarely gravitate to expensive bottles of wine (cause we can't afford them) and we don't expect to talk about them much on grit and grapes. But, we can't afford not to talk about this great wine. We've had it shelved for a year and finally opened it during our beloved second Thanksgiving. We let the wine open up for about 45 minutes (while we were fretting about the doneness of our turkey) before trying it. It is amazing how quickly this wine separates itself from a lot of the standard-bearers we've tried in the past. The first scent is bold and rich, almost a warning shot of the complexity that awaits.
There are dark fruits, earth, and maybe some vanilla on the nose. (Take that last one with a grain of salt as Meghan claims I always smell vanilla. I think she's just hard of smell.) The dryness and potent musk that I'm so fond of in the classic cabernet franc was one of the first things clearly apparent in this complex wine. Dark fruits persisted throughout each sip while a welcome hint of smoke developed on the finish. The sagrantino grape produces some of the most tannic wines in the world, and that quality was still on display with this 2004 vintage. There were easily enough tannins to guide this wine through another five or ten years in your cellar (or if you're me, your father's cellar). There is much to like about this wine as its dry pungency doesn't take a toll on your palate. It's not often that we will spend this much on a bottle of wine outside a restaurant, but this Perticaia will be on our short list for special occasions.
Perticaia Montefalco Sagrantino (2004)