This Sunday evening CNN continues the series Searching for Italy with an episode about the foods of Rome. Last week’s episode highlighted Neapolitan (Naples) food and how it has become common in the American diet. Who doesn’t know pizza, mozzarella di bufala and limoncello?

Medieval wine windows in Naples

Rome, the largest city in Italy though small compared to other world cites, is in the Lazio region (regione Lazio). Most wine produced in Lazio is white and for domestic consumption. Frascati and Orvieto are most recognizable wines in America, made from the region’s primary grapes of Trebbiano, Grechetto and Malvasia .

Lazio borders Tuscany to the north and Umbria to the east. Since Umbria will not appear in CNN series, I will explore Umbria’s intriguing red wines for this episode. Lesser-known Umbria wines can be under-valued in USA when compared to Tuscany, Piedmont and Veneto wines.

Sharing a long border with Tuscany it’s no surprise that many vineyards are Sangiovese grapes. But Sagrantino grows in Umbria like no other place in the world, and Montefalco Sagrantino is Umbria’s most celebrated wine. From the hillside village of Montefalco, the Sagrantino grape has highest amount of polyphenols (antioxidants) of any red grape including highly tannic Cabernet Sauvignon and Nebbiolo. With a long growing season and strong tannins, Sagrantino wines have high alcohol levels (15-15½%) and patience is required for aging.

CÒLPETRONE Montefalco Sagrantino 2012
Umbria, Italy | $25
Sagrantino 100%
James Suckling 90 rating says ”Quite a meaty and lightly herbal rendition of sagrantino, this trades in peperoncino, pine cones and earth. Full-bodied and round with resolved, though drying tannins. Drink now.”

CÒLPETRONE Montefalco Rosso 2015
Umbria, Italy | $15
Blend is Sangiovese, Sagrantino, Merlot
James Suckling 92 rating says “candied strawberries and caramelized orange peel draw you in on the nose; then you notice hints of ash and red licorice. The full-bodied palate has quite a serious tannin backbone, and vibrant red fruit lies beneath waiting to be drawn out tightly by a fine acid edge. The finish is quite fruit-forward. Drink now.”

Tune-in Sunday to explore the foods of Rome and enjoy a “healthy (lots of antioxidants)” glass of Sagrantino…