Sampled an astonishing wine last night: Sagrantino di Montefalco passito 1999 from the Antica Azienda Paolo Bea. This wine is made from selected Sagrantino grapes laid out to dry in airy lofts for upwards of three months (similar process to making Recioto or Amarone della Valpolicella). Gorgeous deep blackberry and wild fruits nose, hugely sweet in the mouth, yet with an underlying, almost rasping edge of tannin and grip that is a characteristic of the Sagrantino and which kept the wine from cloying. Very long, voluptuous, lingering aftertaste that I can still almost taste now... Like other passiti wines, Sagrantino is considered a vino da meditazione best enjoyed without food, but this remarkable rarity, because of its exceptional concentrated balance between sweetness and tannin can indeed accompany food. I had tasted the bottle the night before without food (well, with just a nugget of Montgomery farmhouse cheddar); since the bottle was open last night, I tried it with what we were already having for dinner, skinless chicken thighs roasted with olive oil, garlic and lots of fresh rosemary together with some pan-roasted butternut squash. The match was not perfect, but the layers of luscious sweetness with that hard edge of tannin made it an unusual and very interesting wine to accompany food -- the sweetness of the roasted squash particularly complemented the richly flavoured wine. But really, to drink such a wine with food would be a waste. Traditional Sagrantino passito is rarely encountered and is likely to be expensive, so this gorgeous and voluptuous wine really is one to sip and savour slowly in front of a fire...shared with a partner or likeminded wine lover or lover. This is not, by the way, a wine you're likely to encounter at your local Tescos (only 4000 bottles were produced in 1999). Here's a picture of the bottle.