Unassuming and Excellent - A Wine to Cellar
Sagrantino is the quiet and unassuming powerhouse of Italian wine. It doesn’t garner the lavish praise and attention that Nebbiolo or Sangiovese does. Sometimes that deters people from trying the grape but it also means that the regions prices have been kept artificially low. Sagrantino, when young like this one is, can be a quiet beast. The picture I have in my mind’s eye is of a hulking young kid … nose down in a book, a bit clumsy but freakishly strong, quiet, unassuming. The kind of kid who gets picked last for games but also the one who comes the reunion years later and is the most successful and happy one there. That is Sagrantino and, moreso, that is this wine. Today’s wine is a perfect example of Sagrantino and if you like collecting wine to drink later on: this is a wine to get.
- 4th generation to farm the land and make wine.
- Certified Organic but transitioning to Biodynamic.
- Über traditional farming and winemaking.
About the Winery
Decio Fongoli Calvani purchased the estate in 1927 and ever since then the family, now the 4th generation to work the land, has made wine in nearly an identical fashion. That is to say that they’ve stuck to more traditional ways: older and bigger Slovenian Oak barrels, minimal fuss in the winery, and longer time aging in the bottle. If wineries were fashion items then I think it would be a Seersucker Suit – timeless on the right person. These folks haven’t changed much while the world spun below them and now winemaking fashion has revolved to where they could be part of the ‘Natural’ wine movement even tough there isn’t anything new or purposeful in their production styles. This is just how they’ve always done it. Lots of practical farming methods here (rotating cover crop between the rows, no herbicides or pesticides and herbal tea sprays rather than commercial sprays. All of it in combination adds up to a winery that, while fashionable right now, hasn’t done anything other than farm their vineyards according to their own rules for nearly a hundred years. That is a huge part of this wines success.
What It Tastes Like
The nose doesn’t offer much right now and it is all elbows and knees for structure: too high acid, too big tannins. Nearly undrinkable … but if you tuck it away in the cellar and come back to it, say 15 or 20 years later, you’ll be amazed at what a beautiful wine it’s turned into. The Fracanton is also unique because it’s never been sulphured – the levels of naturally occurring Sulphur are enough that it didn’t need more. Add to the mix that the wine is made in an amphora, doesn’t go through any fining, and there are no additions to what would be called ‘natural’ wine. In the end, this wine is a great example of Sagrantino and its price… well, let’s just say you would be paying double if not triple if it were Barolo or Brunello.