A year or so back, when having a conversation with a winemaker about alternative varieties, they mentioned that they preferred the term ‘appropriate’ varieties. In their view, many of the Italian varieties, or those varieties that end in ‘o’, are more suited to our climate and in many cases, I tend to agree.
Trevor March, from Heathvale Wines in the Eden Valley, first came across Sagrantino at a tasting in 1986. It’s a variety that hails from Umbria in central Italy, primarily round the village of Montefalco. Sourcing cuttings from those great champions of ‘appropriate’ grape varieties, the Chalmers family in Merbein, it was 13 years until the first vintage was released in 2010 (due to quarantine restrictions and restriction of only being able to import two vines from Umbria).
The vineyard at the Heathvale property has deep roots in the Eden Valley, established in the mid–1800s by William and Fanny Heath. Wine production was phased out in the 1920s with the Heaths concentrating on stone fruit production but wine again came back into the picture when Trevor and Faye March purchased the property in 1986 and started replanting the vineyards.
This 2014 ‘The Belief’ Sagrantino is a beautifully fragrant wine showing fruit aromas of red cherry and plums with perfumed higher tones of mulberry and some crunchy cranberry notes. The fruit is underscored by hints of Turkish delight, licorice, vanilla bean, baking spice and a raft of purple floral notes conjuring up images of violets and lavender.
Sangrantino has a bit of a reputation in its homeland for the heft of its tannins but here they are a lot more subdued. It really is lovely drinking and it is a grape variety that has a bright future in Australia when in the right hands.
HEATHVALE WINES 2014 ‘The Belief’ Sagrantino