Cantina Scacciadiavoli in Montefalco (Umbria), Italy

There's a peculiar myth behind the name Scacciadiavoli. If you translate it to English, it means to banish the devils. A legend from Johaness de Ruescissa's Trattato sulla Quintessenza says that in the 18th century, a young woman who was possessed by the devil was made to drink some local red wine by an exorcist who succeeded in dispelling the devil. This particular exorcism event gave its name to the village where the winery stands close to. In 1884, Prince Ugo Boncompagni from Rome had the winery built and he decided to call it Scacciadiavoli.

Scacciadiavoli was a dream that came true for Prince Boncompagni. It is one of the oldest wine estates in the Montefalco area. The place was developed as an oenological complex which was highly advanced during that period. In 1954, 71-year old Amilcare Pambuffetti purchased the estate from the prince where he had been working as a farm hand ever since he was 14. The place was developed as an oenological complex which was highly advanced during that period.

Upon the death of Amilcare in 1977, his sons Alfio, Settimio and Mario continued the activities at the winery. When the year 2000 arrived, the sons of Settimio, Francesco, Carlo and Amilcare, took control of the estate. A few years ago, the fourth generation, Amilcare, Iacopo, Liù, Romeo and Fiammetta joined the activities of the family too.

The estate stands on a land at an average altitude of 220 to 472 meters above sea level that extends over an area of 130 hectares, 35 of which are dedicated to grapevines. The vineyards are spread out on the hills of Montefalco, Gualdo Cattaneo and Giano dell'Umbria along the wine route of Strada del Sagrantino. The current annual production is around 250,000 bottles with 40% production of Sagrantino DOCG exported to the U.S.

The wines are produced in a 4-level winery, one of which is underground. The harvested grapes go directly to the top floor which are then moved by gravity flow to the floor below for fermentation in stainless steel and wooden barrels. On the ground floor there are the tonneaux and large wooden barrels for the aging of the Montefalco Rosso, while on the underground level there are the oak barrels for the aging of the Montefalco Sagrantino Secco and Passito wines.

Scacciadiavoli produces Spumante Brut Metodo Classico (Sagrantino 85%, Chardonnay 15%), Spumante Brut Rosè Metodo Classico (Sagrantino 100%), Montefalco Grechetto DOC (Grechetto 100%), Montefalco Bianco DOC (Trebbiano Spoletino 50%, Grechetto 30%, Chardonnay 20%), Montefalco Rosso DOC (Sangiovese 60%, Merlot 25%, Sagrantino 15%), Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG Secco & Passito (Sagrantino 100%), Rosso dell'Umbria IGT (Sangiovese, Merlot), and Grappa di Sagrantino.

The Spumante Brut and Spumante Brut Rosè are both recent additions to the wine production of Scacciadiavoli which are both made with Sagrantino grapes and vinified in white (100% for the rosè and additional Chardonnay with the white). A not so common practice with the celebrated Sagrantino grapes, but the sparkling wines came out with excellent quality. Both wines have fine and numerous perlage with long persistence. Early harvest of the grapes to maintain the freshness, the wines came out fresh, fruity, floral, with notes of fresh bread and peach. The sapidity in the rosè coming out pronounced after a few minutes.

The Montefalco Grechetto DOC is vinified in steel tanks then straight to the bottles. It takes out the characteristics of the Grechetto quite well with its freshness, fruitness and floral notes. The Montefalco Bianco DOC instead has a more complex structure given its blend of white grapes and the aging of the Chardonnay in large wooden barrels. Straw yellow with golden yellow hues, fresh, sapid, with lots of yellow stone fruits and flowers.

The Montefalco Rosso DOC, aged in French oak barrique and large barrels for 12 months before staying in the bottles for another half a year, gives out an intense ruby red color and good consistency. In the nose and mouth, red stone fruits, cherries, and spices are prevalent.

Finally, the Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG holds the highest designation of quality in Italian wines. It is famous for its rich silky tannins, elegance, complexities and great structure in which the area of Montefalco is its only cradle. I had the opportunity to try their different vintages in a vertical tasting from 2002 to 2006 and 2011. As in all vertical tastings, it's very interesting to see, smell and taste the differences how each year's climatic conditions have affected the final product in the bottles. Sagrantino is a kind of wine that keeps very well for years in the bottle as the wines become much rounder with softer tannins. Among the vintages I've tried, the 2011 stood out with its floral highlights, and promising to be even better over the next years.

Scacciadiavoli Winery

Località Cantinone, 31
06036 Montefalco (PG), Italy
Tel: +39 0742 371210

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