Break out of your wine routine

July 3, 2013 

Who doesn't enjoy trying the newest restaurant in town or even a different style of cuisine? On the other hand, when it comes to wine, so many of us have blinders on to all but the one or two varietals that we will drink. It is common to hear someone say "I only drink California Chardonnay" or "I'm a Cabernet Sauvignon lover."

Although the Sagrantino wine grape has been cultivated in Montefalco, Italy, since 1549, some consider it to be the "newest" noble wine variety of that country -- newest mainly because it almost vanished from the vineyards of the Umbria region where this varietal was born. The Sagrantino name comes from the Latin word for "sacrament" because monks made a raisin wine from this grape for religious rites and the local farmers drank it during the Easter and Christmas holidays .

Last November, the Wine Enthusiast announced that the "European Winery of the Year" was the Arnaldo Caprai winery -- the winery that in 1989 helped to spark the revival of high quality Sagrantino wines. Arnaldo Caprai was founded by its' namesake in 1971 with the purchase of 12- 1/2 acres of vineyards. In 1988, his son Marco took over the family owned winer. The winery has more than 350 acres planted today.

The 2007 Arnaldo Caprai Collepiano Sagrantino Di Montefalco contains the prestigious D.O.C.G. label (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita). This designation is only awarded to a small percentage of wine producers and requires compliance with extremely

strict regulations. The wine averages about $55 per bottle according to wine-searcher.com.

Having been forewarned that this 2007 Collepiano contained a significant amount of tannins, I paired it with a grilled bone-in rib-eye steak because it is a fatty cut of beef and the tannins cut through the fat of the red meat, causing the wine to taste smoother in the mouth.

You may recall that tannins come from the grape skins and they are a natural preservative that also allows wine to age. This 2007 Collepiano Sagrantino is a deep purple in color, almost black, and has hints of tobacco and cedar on the nose. It definitely needed a little bit of time to open up after being poured into a glass, but once it did it had black fruit flavors and the tannins dominated on the finish meaning that this wine should only improve with time.

Sometimes it fun to step out of the box and try something that is new and different. You never know what kind of gem is hidden in a bottle of wine.

Jim Rawe, a family attorney in Bradenton, is an avid collector of fine wines. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at jimrawe@gmail.com.

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