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The Anteprima Sagrantino event also lent the field to a competition: the Gran Premio Sagrantino, the throphy to decree the Best Sommelier of Sagrantino 2018 (powerful red grape of Umbria region, central Italy).

Beyond the results, we all have read right after the competition, I wanted to discover more about that also interviewing those  who have been directly involved.


What is it?

The competition is just one of the many ones organized by the Italian Sommelier Association and focused on specific wines (as in this case); on entire regions (eg. Best Sommelier of Lombardia region) or even on the entire boot (Best Italian Sommelier). The aim is to enhance this profession and to decree the most prepared sommelier on the subject.

This one has been the tenth edition; it is organized by the Italian Sommelier Association – delegation of Umbria in collaboration with the Italian Sommelier Association as a whole and with the Consorzio Tutela Vini of Montefalco.


How does it work?

It starts with a closed-door written test which consists of:

  • a questionnaire (see more ahead)
  • blind tasting and written analysis of two wines made of Sagrantino according to the terminology of the association, including a score

The tests are examined immediately and the best 4 sommeliers are identified to access the PLAY OFF (the 1st ranked against the 3rd and the 2nd against the 4th one) which consist of:

  • oral tasting of two blind wines made of Sagrantino
  • Wine&food pairing test: given a specific dish, the candidate must pair a wine

Finally, there is the FINAL between the best 2 candidates which consists of:

  • blind tasting of a wine based on 3 questions made by the commission
  • simulation of: reception service and wine service
  • communication test


What are the questions of the written test more specifically?

The tests of the PLAY OFF and the FINAL are clear enough especially for those who know the association and attend the courses; it would be interesting to know more about the written test that requires a deep knowledge!

Here are some of the questions of this edition:

– Associate the ‘following wines’ made with Sagrantino to their producers

– Put the ‘following wines’ in the correct order of service

– Illustrates the main aspects of this grape variety (Sagrantino)

– What are the vintages classified with 3 stars (out of 5) by the Consortium?

– Write the year of foundation of the”following companies’


And here is the final classification.




The compliments may sound obvious but they are not, the dedication required for this kind of competition is always admirable.



What did the President of AIS Umbria observe, year by year?

I asked a couple of questions to Sandro Camilli, President of AIS Umbria, who has the opportunity to follow the competition in person year by year.

  1. How much important is this competition for the promotion of Sagrantino?

“The competition, in my opinion, is strongly supporting the promotion of Montefalco Sagrantino because the number of participants has risen constantly reaching his historical peak this year with 18 members. I think it is a very clear indicator of the fact that the interest in this national competition is dictated by the importance that the wine and its territory are now gaining on the national and international wine scene; also because the scholarships, however praiseworthy and important, would not justify long trips and subtractions of time from their activities.

The candidates come from many different Italian regions (Puglia, Alto Adige, Liguria, Veneto, Friuli, Emilia, Romagna, Tuscany etc.) and work in the restaurant business. This  increases the importance of the competition but guarantee a greater appreciation of this great wine too”.


  1. How has the preparation of candidates evolved over the years?

“The preparation of the competitors is greater and better, just to give an example: when the 4 finalists had been announced, the national competition manager, Cristiano Cini, wanted to name even 4 other participants because they did not manage to enter the final for 3- 4 points, which in such a competition correspond to a thousandth of a second on an Olympic race, then equal to zero”.


The experience of those who participated.

I had the opportunity to chat with Davide Fontanieri, owner and sommelier of the restaurant Da Gregorio (in Orvieto, Umbria region) to discover the point of view of those who actually take part to these competition. I interviewed Davide (and, for instance, not the winner) because Davide was one of the only 2 Umbrian candidate so I do cheer for him.


  1. Why did you choose to participate?

“To broaden my knowledge and deepen some aspects related to Sagrantino grape variety, which is unique in the Italian wine scene given its concentration of polyphenols and its tannic structure. I also participate to have the chance to meet my well-prepared colleagues who often come from far away”.

  1. How did you study to get prepared?

“First of all, it is necessary to know all the companies registered to the consortium: each label they produce as well as, naturally, the main characters of the vine and the territory. The second part of the study takes place directly in the wineries to talk with the producers and taste the wines together. Of course, it is fundamental get prepared for the tasting according to the criteria of our AIS association”.

  1. What are the biggest difficulties of the competition, in your opinion?

“In my opinion, the knowledge of all the companies. We are required to know every single detail (year of foundation, history and dates, training system(s), wine lines, labels and their characteristics), it is not easy if you think that there are 55 companies in total. Another difficult aspect is the report related to a selected company, part of the written test: this is one of the questions that give the highest score. After the written test, there are other difficulties but more related, for example, to communication skills”.


Good luck for the next editions!