2012 Chalmers Heathcote Sagrantino

Some wines should have cautions labelled on them regarding their contents and Sagrantino is one such beast. If you happen to be averse to a hell broth of dark fruits and intense masculine tannins, the suggestion would be to stick to Cabernet-based wines. Apologies to those who enjoy these but for the uninitiated or unwary punter, the variety is a challenge but well worth the journey.  
Whether Sagrantino was originally brought to its present homeland in central Umbria by monks or if St Francis of Assisi was responsible for its plantings, either way the variety appears to have had a divinely-inspired beginning belying its reputation for the devilish brew its reputation has bestowed upon it today. 

The variety almost became extinct in the 1960's before visionary vintners saw its potential, resurrecting it to the point where in the Montefalco Region - Italy's largest area of its plantings - DOCG status was attained in 1991. 

This first vintage from Chalmers' Heathcote vineyards is a dark ruby red colour with a black core in the glass. Aromatically, cherries, plums, floral earthiness and liquorice proliferate but there is smokey meat note with hints of oregano and unusual tropical fruit component to tail off. The palate betrays the bouquet. The impression is it will be lighter bodied. The Lagrein for example was the opposite. Big aromatics but a smooth, medium-bodied wine.

Tongue-coating tannic dark fruit and bright acidity kicking in. Medium to full-bodied wine from those extraordinary Cambrian soils. Earthy, dark plum, blackberries and savoury bark notes. Grippy and brambly mouthfeel characteristics. Dry, rich palate of dates, stewed dark fruits, sour black cherry. Enough warming alcohol despite the volume. Brooding, earthy but approachable tannins. A big wine with plenty of grunt and intensity yet has a sense of refinement about it too. 

For me, the tannins and acidity are challenging but it is an impressive wine and a great ride to boot. Not a drop you would drink without food. Be warned !

Source: Retail Purchase. Alcohol: 14.5%. Closure: Screwcap. Price: $45.00. Rating: 91 Points.

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