Montefalco’s Dry Red Wines: Update on Late and New Releases

by Ian D’Agata

The new vintage of Montefalco Sagrantino wines will be seeing the light of day shortly, and I will be reviewing them soon enough, but for the time being, I want to go over the Montefalco Sagrantino wines released last year. As readers know, Sagrantino gives one of Italy’s most tannic red wines (I’d venture a guess that the only red grape in Italy who can outdo it in the “Most Tannic Red Wine of Italy” category is probably Friuli Venezia Giulia’s Pignolo variety) and so reviewing the wines at a time when they have another year under their belts is doing both my readers and the wines a real favour.

Since 1992, when the appellation became a DOCG, Montefalco Sagrantino vineyards have increased from the less than one hundred hectares of decades ago to today’s roughly 400 hectares. Annual bottle output is around one million/year, and even more could be possible, depending on what the market will bear. But the denomination offers more than just one red wine and its white wines are quite interesting too (see: TerroirSense Wine Review: October 20, 2023: New and Recent Releases of Dry White Wines and Sweet Red Wines from Montefalco’s Best Producers).

Clearly, Sagrantino remains the mainstay of the denomination, and is about as emblematic of the town of Montefalco as are its Church Museum of Saint Francis (1335-1338), the Cinta Duecentesca (thirteenth century) restored in the fourteenth by Lorenzo Maiani, and Palazzo Comunale, built in 1280 but enriched by important additions in subsequent steps in later times (such as in the eighteenth century, when the pretty Torre Campanaria was built). Montefalco, by the way, is one of Italy’s prettiest medieval towns, and so a visit there will hold more good stuff for you in store than just the wines.

But there’s more to Montefalco than just Sagrantino. Sangiovese, Montepulciano and Merlot are also reasonably common, especially the first of those three. That’s because Sangiovese has the lion’s share of the grape constituents of the Montefalco Rosso and Montefalco Rosso Riserva wine blends. As I have written before, these two wines are potentially very good ones especially the Montefalco Rosso, that is, at its best, a charmingly approachable, easygoing light to medium-bodied red wine that makes a perfect pairing with the dishes of most meals, from start to finish. OK, OK, so you won’t have it with pan-fried filets of sole or with trotelle al blu, but with anything that is not so delicate, Montefalco Rosso wines will prove just dandy. In fact, the best of them are often exceptionally good wines that, at their relatively inexpensive price-point can give many similarly lighter-bodied wines (Valpolicella, Chianti and Chianti Classico, Beaujolais, Bourgigne Villages, Côtes du Rhône, Mencias, and others) a run for their money. On the other hand, the Rosso Riserva wines often suffer from the typical “middle child” syndrome, and can fall into the “neither fish nor fowl” trap, with some wines so lightish you wonder what the point of making a similar Riserva is; or, more often, wines so tannic that the estate might have had a better idea in just sticking to the planting of more vines of Sagrantino, such as to make more Montefalco Sagrantino wine. But even many Rosso Riservas of today are markedly better than what was being labeled as such fifteen years ago, because the category, like that of Montefalco Rosso, is no longer treated as an afterthought by many local producers (who until recently focused all their attention and energy on making the biggest Sagrantino wine possible). Just beware, as I have written before, that these two wines, unlike Tuscany’s Rosso di Montalcino which is a 100% Sangiovese wine, are not 100% Sagrantino (differently from the Montefalco’s denomination third red wine, Montefalco Sagrantino). Montefalco Rosso and Montefalco Rosso Riserva are actually blends of Sangiovese (60-80%), Sagrantino (10-25%), and other authorized grapes (15-30%). For in-depth information about the Sagrantino variety, I refer you to my two award-winning books Native Wine Grapes of Italy and Italy’s Native Wine Grape Terroirs (both published by University of California Press and available on Amazon) or for those wanting a slightly shorter description or summary of the grape and its terroirs without all the in-depth scientific or geological data, then The Grapes and Wines of Italy: The Definitive Compendium region by region (available at Amazon press) will fit the bill. My articles here in the TerroirSense Wine Review will also prove helpful (The Wines of Montefalco: New and Recent Releases, June 22, 2022).

The wines in this tasting

All the wines in this tasting were tasted by me directly in Rome at the end of 2023 and January 2024. I thank the Montefalco consorzio and Diana Cataldo of Miriade&Partners for their help in sourcing the majority of the wines in this article. Other wines I have, as always, sourced on my own and bought out of pocket from wine shops in the immediate local area or elsewhere in Italy during my non-stop travels, so as to make this and all my articles as complete and useful as humanly possible. Unfortunately, I cannot always get to every single wine produced each year, but I try to cover the majority of significant bottlings. Wineries missing from this report might be covered in general articles o Italian wines in upcoming issues of the TerroirSense Wine Review. Please note that the Montefalco wines of Lorenzo Mattoni, an up-and-coming star of the denomination, will be covered separately in a full article in the Producer Insight section of this magazine coming out soon, so look for it (you can also taste his wines at the Micro Mega Wines area of the upcoming Vinitaly fair at Hall C, Organic Hall). And before you ask, wines not included in this article that I tasted of wineries you might know were, generally speaking, not memorable. In the case of the few wineries that did not send their wines to me for tasting, and that I did not get a chance to buy, ask yourself why that is. Are worried of getting low scores from a credible expert and having them dilute the value of the super-high ones gotten from less credible “experts”? If so, ask yourself if you should really buy their wines.

A word on recent vintages

The 2021, 2020 and 2019 Rosso and Rosso Riserva wines are mostly excellent (especially the 2019 and 2021s). The 2016 and 2019 vintages have turned out very well for Montefalco Sagrantino, with many very good and excellent wines made. Each has its own stylistic personality, so which vintage’s wines you prefer will have probably more to do with your own palate preferences than the wines themselves. By contrast, I had a hard time liking most 2018 Montefalco Sagrantino wines, finding most to be fruit-challenged and overly-herbal. Exceptions exist, such as the splendid 2018 Sagrantino wines by Bocale, Di Filippo and Tenuta Castelbuono. But fact is, though summer was punctuated here and there by rainfall, the Montefalco denomination escaped most of the huge downpours that plagued the rest of Italy in 2018; however, the year’s growing season was cool (a death call for Sagrantino, a variety that it is difficult to get to ripen optimally even at the best of times), so despite the usual self-serving descriptions of a “classic” vintage, the fact is most wines are not as good as they should be (and despite what others will write). The 2017 vintage was just as hot in Montefalco as it was in the rest of Italy, and though some estates made excellent wines, the majority of 2017 wines lack the complexity and smoothness of truly great Sagrantino vintages.


Adanti 2018 Montefalco Rosso                         NR

Garnet red. Dates, figs, and butter on the nose and slightly raisiny, fizzy mouth. This was probably refermenting in bottle from some residual sugar and the bottle being exposed to too much heat, so I won’t score this and wait to try another bottle.

Adanti 2016 Montefalco Rosso Riserva                  90

Medium red with a garnet rim. Nicely balanced, with sweet, rich, deep red and blue fruit aromas and flavours, complicated by hints of tar, shoe polish and herbs. Closes long and mouthcoating, very full-bodied and with a slightly animal nuance. This very bif serious Rosso Riserva seems to me to be very marked by the presence of Sagrantino, which may not be something to everybody’s liking. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Adanti 2016 Montefalco Sagrantino                92

Bright medium red. Aromas of red fruit, wild herbs, licorice and tar. The tannins start off silky at first, then picks up some Sagrantino-bite on the long, but rich, refined and well-balanced finish. Adanti is remarkably adept at making more elegant Sagrantino wines than most, probably something that has to do with the winemaking and the terroir of the Arquata subzone of this part of the Montefalco denomination. Drinking window: 2024-2032.

Adanti 2010 Montefalco Sagrantino Il Domenico          94+

Dark ruby. Red plum, blackberries, cinnamon, chocolate and coffee on the multilayered nose and in the mouth. Very big, deep and long, with dusty tannins that slowly gain in softness thanks to aeration. at first needs aeration. The ultimately smooth, rich mouthfeel lingers long and impressively. This is an outstanding Sagrantino wine. Drinking window: 2024-2034.


Antonelli  2019 Montefalco Rosso Riserva           94

Bright red-ruby. Boasts intense, very pure Sangiovese-like red fruit aromas, complemented by strong notes of violet. Then similar flavours in the mouth, with plenty of sappy juiciness to make this at once easy to love and very approachable. Closes long and very smooth, not unlike what liquid silk might feel like. For a Rosso Riserva, this is a very pretty, immensely likeable wine. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Antonelli  2019 Montefalco Sagrantino Chiusa di Pannone    94

Very expressive, perfumed nose of sweet red fruit, raisins and sweet spices. Clean and very fruity on entry, then increasingly tannic but balanced, with fruit flavours marked by notes of graphite, iodine  and black pepper. Finishes long and full.  Drinking window: 2024-2032.

Antonelli  2018 Montefalco Sagrantino Molino dell’Attone   92+

Deep opaque ruby. Less expressive on the nose today than Antonelli’s 2019 Sagrantino Chiusa di Pannone (but keep in mind this is a different vintage from that wine). Then very big, downright brooding and strapping monolithic wine, with dense, peppery flavours of dark and red fruit, herbs, ink and balsamic oils. Closes long and thick, but I find this to be still shut down presently. If you must open it up either in the morning of your dinner and decant, or even the night before. Drinking window: 2028-2033.

Arnaldo Caprai.

Arnaldo Caprai 2021 Montefalco Rosso         91

Inky ruby-red. Very deep aromas and flavours of dark red plum, ink, dried herbs, and cocoa. Deep, big and monolithic, this is one strapping Montefalco Rosso that acts much more like a Rosso Riserva. Still, there’s no denying how good the wine is and considering its cost, well…there’s lots of wine for the money here. Drinking window: 2026-2030.

Arnaldo Caprai 2021 Montefalco Rosso Vigna Flaminia-Maremmana                    93

Deep inky ruby red. Red and black cherry with mint, cocoa and tar tagging along for the ride; bigger and deeper than Caprai’s classic Montefalco Rosso of the same vintage, with more elegance too. Rich and tannic in the mouth, but delivers its fruit and herb flavours with style and grace for such a big wine. Well done. Drinking window: 2027-2032.

Arnaldo Caprai 2021 Montefalco SagrantinoValdimaggio            92+

Very deep opaque ruby. Peppery herbs and dark berries on the reticent but promising nose. Boasts a ton, and I mean a ton, of graphite and black pepper flavours, enlivened by hints of cinnamon and herbs. Closes long, thick and youthfully reticent. Needs time, or decant about eight hours ahead. I’m really curious to see how it develops: I think there’s substantial stuffing here and so I expect the wine to improve and complexify in the years to come, but given the new label, one that has no track record yet, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and score it accordingly, but honestly…jury’s out. Drinking window: 2028-2033.

Arnaldo Caprai 2021 Montefalco Sagrantino Collepiano         93

Good full dark ruby. Aromas and flavours of red berry nectar, black cherry gelatin, tar, violet and cinnamon. Very smooth and long with repeating flavours of what seems like a jet stream of liquid fruit that is pure and clean. As always with this bottling, tastes much less tannic and peppery on the long back end that just about most other Sagratino wines out there.  Drinking window: 2026-2032.

Arnaldo Caprai 2021 Montefalco Sagrantino 25 Anni       94+

Fully opaque bright ruby colour. Complex aromas of dark fruit, sandalwood, herbs and cocoa. Very broad and very deep, this tastes rich, smooth and elegant with noble red cherry, raspberry and sweet spice flavours that linger nicely. The powerful tannins really hit late, along with a high-acid element on the long clean vibrant spicy finish. Needs time.  Drinking window: 2028-2036.


Bocale 2020 Montefalco Rosso                  90

Bright red. Violet and iris complement with hints of plum and herbs, Starts sweet on entry, then more serious, with strong notes of herbs, vegetables and spices. Finishes salty, long and with a hint of residual sweetness. This is a good classic Montefalco Rosso, but suffers in comparison to some recent vintages of it that punched way more above their weight class than this does. Drinking window: 2024-2026.

Bocale 2019 Montefalco Sagrantino         92+

Medium deep red. Smoky sweet red fruit, anise, camphor and dark chocolate aromas on the complex nose. This enters quite ripe and fruity, with peppery flavours framed by the very strong, rising tannic spine on the slightly chunky finish. Decant three hours ahead. Drinking window: 2024-2026.

Bocale 2018 Montefalco Sagrantino         91

Slightly deeper ruby colour than the 2019. Subdued aromas of spicy red fruit, herbs and camphor. At once sweet and tough in the mouth, but overall more politely styled than the bigger, more muscular 2019 Sagrantino from Bocale and showing nuances of spicy herbs and Oriental woodsmoke. Less overtly fruity than the 2019 too, but to be clear this is an excellent Sagrantino that manages to remain graceful rather than just powerfully tannic. Drinking window: 2026-2030.

Bocale 2018 Montefalco Sagrantino Ennio            94

Moderately saturated ruby-red. Good full aromas and focused flavours of cocoa, mint, oriental woods, and herbs. At once ripe and fruity, tannic and herbal, but this is nicely smooth, long, and refined, while hinting at noteworthy development over time. Lovely and very promising, there’s lots of wine for the money here. Drinking window: 2026-2035.


Còlpetrone 2020 Montefalco Rosso           92

Medium red. Almond and red cherry on the nose complemented by hints at orange peel and sweet spices: in some ways, this reminded me of a Grenache wine from the southern Rhone (not every wine of Montefalco is brutally tannic!). Then leaner and fresh, with vibrant red fruit and star elements on the long finish. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Còlpetrone 2017 Montefalco Sagrantino Ò di Còlpetrone 91

Bright medium red. Tea, herbs and shoepolish complicate blueberry, black plum and vanilla. Then flavours of tobacco, dark fruit and licorice on the palate, nicely framed by harmonious acidity and rather gentle tannins, for a Sagrantino wine. Lively and smooth on the long, serious finish with flavours echoing the aromas. Drinking window: 2025-2032.

Còlpetrone 2015 Montefalco Sagrantino Memoira             88

Medium dark ruby with a garnet rime. Thin but not especially elegant, with some harsh tannins and shrill acidity making for a long lively and clean back end, but this is just too tannic, too oaky a too fruit-challenged, for my taste. Improves with aeration, such that some sweetness emerges on the long back end. Colpetròne is located in the Marcellano fraction of the Gualdo Cattaneo commune’s territory. Drinking window: 2025-2030.

Còlpetrone 2011 Montefalco Sagrantino Sacer            91+

Deep red-ruby. Aromas and flavours of rosewater, orange peel and coffee complicate herbal dark plum nuances. Similar to the 2015, but with a fuller-bodied mouthfeel and a slightly fruit-challenged quality compared to that wine. However, I think this wine will improve with further aging. Drinking window: 2025-2031.


DiFilippo 2021 Montefalco Rosso                    93

Vivid dark red. Sappy aromas of red cherry and red berries are lifted by violet and minerals. Juicy and suave red fruit, herb and tar flavours are clean and fresh. The finish is layered and boasts sneaky complexity for a wine at this price point. If I didn’t know better, I’d think there was a touch of Vernaccia Nera in here (Cornetta) a beautiful, underrated red grape that gives amazing red wines.  This easygoing approachable red is a steal for the money. Drinking window: 2025-2034.

DiFilippo 2020 Montefalco Rosso Riserva           94

Deep bright red. Perfumed aromas of black cherry, vanilla, truffle and tar are complicated by spicy accents of sandalwood and cinnamon. Very suave, with repeating nuances of vanilla pretty inner-mouth floral perfume in the mouth and outstanding acid/fruit/tannin balance. Closes long and fresh. This strikes me as being easily one of the top two or three Rosso Riservas I had this year. Gorgeous stuff. Drinking window: 2025-2030.

DiFilippo 2018 Montefalco Sagrantino           86

Dark ruby. Strongly herbal and fruit-challenged on both the nose and in the mouth, with straightforward delivery of herbs and forest floor notes and a very astringent, much too tannic finish. Not for me. Drinking window: 2025-2034.

DiFilippo 2018 Montefalco Sagrantino Etnico      94

Bright ruby-red. Aromas of blackberry, licorice and flowers are complicated by a sweet chili pepper note and a hint of balsamic oils. Dense, big and tannic but smooth, with a lightly saline, suave, genteel Old World texture to its flavours of blackberry and fig. Most impressive today for its balance, with repeating balsamic nuances on the long, rising finish, which features big but lush tannins and an impression of seamlessness. Drinking window: 2025-2034.

Fratelli Pardi.

Fratelli Pardi 2018 Montefalco Rosso      89

Good red colour. Clean fresh easygoing floral red berries and cherry on the medium-bodied palate. Closes fresh and easygoing. Drinking window: 2025-2034.

Fratelli Pardi 2018 Montefalco Sagrantino Sacrantino      92

Bright medium red-ruby colour. Fairly broad, open-knit nose of anise, faded red flowers and raspberry. Then rather mellow for a Sagrantino, with red plum, candied rose petal and mocha flavors complemented by a hint of sage and cloves. Finishes a bit warm but with good length. Drinking window: 2024-2030.


Goretti 2021 Montefalco Rosso         91

Bright medium dark colour. Fresh red fruit and herbs on the inviting nose. Then tar and licorice complicate red and black cherry flavours in the mouth with rising but smooth tannins providing good support on the long finish. Drinking window: 2024-2026.

Goretti 2019 Montefalco Sagrantino Le Mure Saracene           92

Good vibrant red colour. Raspberry, strawberry and forest floor on the broad, open-knit nose fruit. Then very savoury, with umami-like notes to the red fruit and herbal flavours on the rich, warm, long finish. Those who like intensely herbal, floral wines rather than more fruity ones will have a field day with this. Drinking window: 2026-2031


Lungarotti 2016 Montefalco Rosso Riserva           93

Deep red. Complex, layered, deep red and black fruit aromas, complicated by notes of tar, camphor and truffle. Broad, powerful and rich, with an underlying herbal nuance lifting the rich flavours on the long aftertaste. Knockout Rosso Riserva that is drinking beautifully now. Drinking window: 2024-2032.

Lungarotti 2016 Montefalco Sagrantino                92+

Bright medium-deep red. Enticing aromas of sweet ripe red cherry, herbs and violet. Then pungent but pure notes of violet and pot pourri dominate flavours of peppery dark fruit. Closes long with really building tannins that are, in very Sagrantino-like fashion, still on the youthfully chewy side. Drinking window: 2026-2034.

Paolo Bea.

Paolo Bea 2015 Montefalco Rosso Riserva Pipparello 94

Bright, good full ruby. Ripe aromas of strawberry, raspberry, licorice and violet, with complementary notes of leather and juniper. Seamless and very ripe in the mouth, but with nicely integrated acidity that provides the crushed red cherry, plum and nutty oak flavors with noteworthy clarity and cut. Saturates the palate with noble if serious tannins and finishes with excellent length. Yet another outstanding wine in a long line of outstanding wines from Paolo Bea. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Paolo Bea 2017 Montefalco Sagrantino Pagliaro         94

Good full ruby.  High-toned aromas of black cherry, blackberry, cherry cola and leather have an undertone of wet earth and forest floor. Then bitter chocolate, licorice, blackberry jelly, and leather flavours are nicely expansive and supple. Finishes broad, thick and long, with a hit of alcohol-derived heat and smooth, ripe tannins. Drinking window: 2027-2035.

Paolo Bea 2016 Montefalco Sagrantino Pagliaro         96

Full ruby-red. Captivating aromas of red cherry, licorice, cinnamon, blood orange and hoisin sauce. Densely packed but silky, with superb intensity to the high-pitched dark berry and red flavours that are lifted by a bright rose petal note. Boasts terrific lift and sappiness, with an easygoing immediate creamy quality, but building tannins leave an impression of a very firm underpinning, promising a graceful and surefire evolution in a good cellar. The aftertaste is long and focused. Drinking window: 2027-2036.


Perticaia 2018 Montefalco Rosso                    91

Light medium red colour. Fresh citrus, orchard fruit and herbs dominate the red fruit aromas. In a lighter-bodied, fruitier and less herbal style, with strawberry and orange peel dominating on the nose and in the mouth. Closes long with noteworthy tannic clout but not unpleasantly so. Very solid Rosso that will stand up to bigger, richer foods than most wines in this category. Drinking window: 2026-2034.

Perticaia 2018 Montefalco Rosso Riserva       88

Solid red-ruby. Broth, herbs, tar and licorice add complexity to moderate amounts of red fruit on the nose and in the mouth. Enters smooth, then turns rather grippy, with a rising note of coffee on the long aftertaste. You can try aging it further, but I doubt this will ever resolve its tannic persona. Drinking window: 2027-2031.

Perticaia 2016 Montefalco Sagrantino            93

Good full red. Musky aromas of black and red cherry, blackberry, violet and menthol. Lush, and broad, this really spreads out to saturate the palate where the flavours echo the aromas.  A much smoother, sweeter red from Perticaia that benefits from the excellent 2016 vintage. Drinking window: 2024-2033.


Scacciadiavoli 2021 Montefalco Rosso           92

Deep ruby-red. Fresh red fruit aromas and flavours are complicated by tar, licorice and shoepolish nuances. Very clean, lively and long on the peppery finish nicely framed by a rising but noble tannic core. Drinking window: 2024-2033.

Scacciadiavoli 2018 Montefalco Sagrantino   93

Deep red-ruby. The nose hints at nuances of tar, licorice and underbrush complicating red fruit. Starts and finishes ripe and fruity, while it’s more austere in the middle, with flavours similar to the aromas. Closes long and smooth. This is really quite good; well done here! Drinking window: 2024-2032.

Tenute Lunelli/Tenuta Castelbuono.

Tenute Lunelli/Tenuta Castelbuono 2021 Montefalco Rosso Ziggurat Biologico                        92

Good full red. Aromas and flavours of strawberry and candied red cherry have an almost carbonic maceration/Beaujolais Nouveau-like quality. Glyceral red fruit notes complicated by herbs and camphor repeat on the long cool finish. Very pretty wine. Drinking window: 2024-2032.

Tenute Lunelli/Tenuta Castelbuono 2020 Montefalco Rosso Riserva Lampante Biologico                         93

Dark red. Sweet aromas and flavours of strawberry jam, anise, milk chocolate are complicated and deepened by a rich crystallized apricot presence. Very smooth on the long risingly floral finish. Drinking window: 2024-2032.

Tenute Lunelli/Tenuta Castelbuono 2018 Montefalco Sagrantino Carapace Biologico                           94

Garnet-tinged red. Elegant wood spices nicely complement ripe red fruit, milk chocolate  and herb aromas and flavours. Very smooth and ripe on the long sultry finish. This a knockout, truly outstanding 2018 Sagrantino: memory might fail me now, but this may very well be the best Sagrantino wine of that difficult vintage. Drinking window: 2024-2033.

Tenute Lunelli/Tenuta Castelbuono 2016 Montefalco Sagrantino Carapace LungAttesa Biologico                            95

Deep red.  Strawberry, chocolate and flowers on the deep, serious, brooding nose. Then  ripe red and dark fruit, chocolate and coffee flavours are given noteworthy spine by the solid, smooth tannic backbone. The very long finish showcases a touch of sweetly spicy oak and of perfumed black pepper. Drinking window: 2024-2035.



Ian D'Agata

Editor-in-Chief of Terroir Sense Wine Review
President of Terroir Sense Academy
Vice President of Association Internationale des Terroirs
Chief Scientific Officer of TasteSpirit

Ian D’Agata has been writing and educating about wines for over thirty years. Internationally recognized as an distinguished expert, critic and writer on many wine regions, his two most recent, award winning books Native Wine Grapes of Italy and Italy's Native Wine Grape Terroirs (both published by University of California Press) are widely viewed as the "state of the art" textbooks on the subject. The former book won the Louis Roederer International Wine Awards Book of the Year in 2015 and was ranked as the top wine books of the year for the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times and the New York Times, while the latter was named among the best wine books of the year by Food & Wine Magazine and the NY Times.

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