The Sangiovese Grape

Sangiovese is a red wine grape from Italy.  Grapes for the most sought-after Sangiovese wines are grown in Tuscany where warm weather, clay like soil, and topography are favorable to growing conditions.  Sangiovese is used in many of Italy’s most appreciated wines.  American wine makers also grow Sangiovese and are getting much better in producing high quality vintages.

Italy from a geological perspective is young.  Volcanic activity plays a significant role in the wine, as does the variety of soil types in the country and even within the regions and subregions of the country.  This results in significantly different wine from vineyard to vineyard and from a Tuscan Brunello di Montalcino to a Tuscan Montepulciano even though they are produced from the same grape.

The Sangiovese grape is known for producing medium bodied wines.  The wines are typically both tannic and acidic.  Finer details on the nose and taste of the wines depend both on the region the wine is grown and how they are made and aged.  Commonly a glass of Sangiovese wine may have notes of cherry, berries, fig, tobacco, cooking spice (pepper, cloves, cinnamon, oregano), clay, leather, and oak.

Wines with a variety of names are made with the Sangiovese grape.  In Italy, many wines are named after the town or sub region they come from.  These wines must be made in a traditional fashion adhering to established standards to carry their name and be certified by a government entity (DOC, DOCG).  Some examples are Chianti, Chianti Classico, Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino, Sangiovese Grosso, Rosso di Montalcino, Rosso di Montepulciano, and others.  Sangiovese grapes are also used in red blends made in Italy such as “Super Tuscans.”  Typically, Sangiovese produced in America is labeled simply as Sangiovese unless it’s in a blended offering.

When pairing a Sangiovese with food, the obvious holds true.  Italian food such as pasta, pizza, italian cheese, beef, sausage, lamb, salami, or prosciutto are a great match.  Additionally, sweets such as chocolate are a great complement to Sangiovese.

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