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Grape Varietals

Sangiovese

Sangiovese-Grapes

Chianti-Wines

Tignanello

Introduction

Sangiovese is a red Italian wine grape variety whose name derives from the Latin sanguis Jovis, "the blood of Jove". In the wines of Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Sangiovese would experience a period of popularity in the late 19th and early 20th century. In the 1970s, Tuscan winemakers began a period of innovation by introducing modern oak treatments and blending the grape with non-Italian varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon in the creation of wines that were given the collective marketing sobriquet "Super Tuscans".

It is the grape of most of Central Italy from Romagna down to Lazio, Campania and Sicily where it is considered the "workhorse" grape, producing everything from everyday drinking to premium wines in a variety of styles. Italian immigrants brought Sangiovese to California in the late 19th century, but it was never considered very important until the success of the Super Tuscans in the 1980s. At the turn of the 21st century, Italy was still the leading source for Sangiovese, followed by Argentina, Romania, France, California and Australia. Chilean & Mexican winemakers have been experimenting with plantings while a small amount of Sangiovese is grown in South Africa as well.

Sangiovese Wine

Wines made from Sangiovese tend to exhibit the grape's naturally high acidity as well as moderate to high tannin content and light colour. Blending can have a pronounced effect on enhancing or tempering the wine's quality. Young Sangiovese wine has fresh fruity flavours of strawberry and a little spiciness, but it readily takes on oak, even tar like flavours, when aged in barrels. The flavour of pure Sangiovese is elusive and ranges in a spectrum somewhere between mulberries, prunes, spice, tobacco, sometimes leather and chestnuts. It tends to be savoury rather than sweet, and if not fully ripe can smell distinctly farmyard-like. It is most famous as the main component of the blend Chianti, Carmignano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Morellino di Scansano, and varietal wines such as Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino or Sangiovese di Romagna, as well as modern "Super Tuscan" wines like Tignanello.

Food Pairing

Sangiovese wine's high acidity and moderate alcohol makes it a very food-friendly wine when it comes to food and wine pairings. One of the classic pairings in Italian cuisine is tomato-based pasta and pizza sauces with a Sangiovese-based Chianti. Varietal Sangiovese or those with a smaller proportion of the powerful, full-bodied Cabernet blended in, can accentuate the flavours of relatively bland dishes like meatloaf and roast chicken. Herb seasoning such as basil, thyme and sage play off the herbal notes of the grapes. Sangiovese that has been subject to more aggressive oak treatment pairs well with grilled and smoked food.

Interesting Facts

At least fourteen Sangiovese clones exist, of which Brunello is the one that is best regarded.

Sangiovese can be made in a variety of styles, including the dessert wine Vin Santo.

 

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