Sagrantino is an ancient grape variety believed to originate from Montefalco in Umbria, Central Italy, with records dating back to 1088. It produces wines with excellent structure, intense color, pronounced tannins, and aging potential. Sagrantino thrives in hot and dry conditions. More recently it has been growing in popularity amongst Australian viticulturists. Trials in Parlier, Fresno County, California, showed moderate productivity, with yields ranging from 9 to 13.5 tons per acre.
Origins and History
Sagrantino, an ancient grape variety, is believed to originate from the Montefalco region in Umbria, Central Italy. Records show the existence of Sagrantino vineyards in Montefalco as early as 1088. Its origins are likely connected to Byzantine monks from Greece in the Middle Ages or Franciscans from Asia Minor. The name “Sagrantino” is thought to come from the Italian word “sacro,” meaning sacred. The name may be due to the variety’s religious connections.
Sagrantino has distinct characteristics, including predominantly three lobed, medium-sized orbicular leaves with a downy underside. Clusters are small to medium, cylindrical to conical, often winged, and the medium berries are dark blue/black with a thick, pruinose skin. The growing tips are fully open, cottony, and whitish green with reddish edges.
Bud burst is mid season and harvest is mid to late. The vine has an upright growth habit and when grown in Australia, it has been noted to have low vigor with adaptability to hot and dry climates.
According to Chalmers, an Australian nursery, Sagrantino can perform in windy and dry conditions. A medium-wide training system with cane pruning is the traditional recommendation, although it can achieve moderate yields when spur pruned on training systems suitable for full mechanization. Chalmers also notes that the yield is generally moderate and can be inconsistent.
Spur-pruned Sagrantino vines in the Parlier (Fresno County, California) trials were moderately productive and inconsistent, with the yield ranging from 9-13.5 tons per acre (Table 1).
Sagrantino grapes possess exceptionally high levels of polyphenols, resulting in wines with excellent structure, intense color, pronounced tannins, and aging potential. Varietal wines are characterized by their fruity nature and robust body. Common descriptors for Sagrantino wines include forest fruits, cherries, mulberries, violets, and vanilla.
Dry, P. Sagrantino. Australian Wine Research Institute. Available at: https://www.awri.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/s1516.pdf. (Accessed 14th May 2023)
Chalmers. Sagrantino. Available at: https://www.chalmers.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Sagrantino-Data-Sheet-Chalmers.pdf. (Accessed 14th May 2023)
Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo. Sagrantino. Available at: https://vivairauscedo.com/contributi/en/schede/sagrantino.pdf. (Accessed 14th May 2023)
Robinson, J., J. Harding, J. Vouillamoz. 2012. Wine Grapes. HarperCollins, New York
Actis-Grande, J. Sagrantino. Wine JAG Journeys. (2018). Available at: https://www.winejag.com/articles/2018/9/14/sagrantino.
UC Davis Student