Sangiovese

Sangiovese: The Spirited Soul of Italian Wines

Sangiovese (pronounced “San-joh-vay-zee”), the charismatic virtuoso of the Italian vineyards, is as enigmatic as it is beloved. Known for its vivacious personality and complex profile, this grape variety is the heart and soul of some of Italy’s most revered wines.

Let’s embark on an epicurean journey through the rolling hills of Tuscany and beyond with Sangiovese – the wine that’s a symphony of passion and tradition.

Primary Flavours

Embarking on a flavour journey with Sangiovese is like wandering through an Italian countryside market. Imagine biting into fresh red cherries and tart raspberries, with a sprinkle of dried herbs and a hint of tomato leaf.

As you delve deeper, you’ll discover an earthy undertone, like a gentle reminder of the Tuscan soil. In warmer climates, it might flirt with richer, riper fruit flavours, while in cooler regions, it maintains a more austere, tannic profile. And let’s not forget a touch of balsamic or tobacco, adding layers of complexity to this already charismatic grape.

Taste Profile

Sangiovese Sangiovese Sangiovese
Aspect Rating out of 5 Characteristic
Sweetness 🍷 Predominantly dry, with a flirtatious nod to red fruits
Body 🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷 Medium to full-bodied, as robust as a Roman gladiator
Tannins 🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷 Strong and assertive, like a passionate Italian debate
Acidity 🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷 Bright and lively, like a Vespa zipping through Tuscan hills
Alcohol by Volume 🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷 Typically around 12-14%, as warming as the Tuscan sun
Each wine glass icon 🍷 represents one point on a 10-point scale. Sangiovese is known for its natural acidity and firm tannins, often showcasing flavors of cherry, tomato, and rustic herbs. It's a wine that embodies the heart and soul of Italy, perfect for pairing with a wide range of dishes, especially those featuring tomato sauce or grilled meats. Like a good Italian opera, it's dramatic, full of character, and leaves a lasting impression. Each wine glass icon 🍷 represents one point on a 10-point scale. Sangiovese is known for its natural acidity and firm tannins, often showcasing flavors of cherry, tomato, and rustic herbs. It's a wine that embodies the heart and soul of Italy, perfect for pairing with a wide range of dishes, especially those featuring tomato sauce or grilled meats. Like a good Italian opera, it's dramatic, full of character, and leaves a lasting impression. Each wine glass icon 🍷 represents one point on a 10-point scale. Sangiovese is known for its natural acidity and firm tannins, often showcasing flavors of cherry, tomato, and rustic herbs. It's a wine that embodies the heart and soul of Italy, perfect for pairing with a wide range of dishes, especially those featuring tomato sauce or grilled meats. Like a good Italian opera, it's dramatic, full of character, and leaves a lasting impression.
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Growing Regions

Sangiovese reigns supreme in Tuscany, the land of rolling hills and Renaissance art, where it’s the star in illustrious wines like Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino. Beyond Italy, it has found hospitable spots in the vineyards of Argentina, Australia, and California, each region weaving its unique thread into the Sangiovese tapestry.

Origin

With roots tracing back to ancient Italy, this wine has been the backbone of Italian winemaking for centuries. It’s a grape steeped in tradition, yet not afraid to reinvent itself. Historical records dating back to the 16th century sing praises of its quality and popularity, making it a time-honored favorite among wine lovers.

Serving Temperature

To fully unravel the tapestry of flavours, serve it at a cozy 16-18°C (60-65°F). This temperature range allows the wine to express its vibrant fruit flavours and spicy undertones without overwhelming the palate with tannins.

Glassware

Opt for a wide-bowled glass to serve your Sangiovese. This design helps in softening the wine’s robust tannins and lets the bouquet of red fruits, earthy notes, and spices waft up, enriching the tasting experience.

Decanting

Give this wine some air! Decanting this variety, especially the younger, tannin-rich bottles, can significantly enhance its character, softening the tannins and allowing the wine’s complex flavours to come forth.

Ageing

This is a wine that gracefully embraces aging. Over time, it evolves, its bold tannins mellowing out, and its primary fruit flavours giving way to more nuanced, earthy notes. A well-aged bottle can be a revelation, showcasing the wine’s ability to mature with elegance and complexity.

Food Pairings

Sangiovese’s vibrant acidity and tannic structure make it an incredibly food-friendly wine, capable of complementing a wide array of culinary creations. Here are some more pairings to explore:

Italian Cuisine:

  • Pizza: Especially with toppings like pepperoni or mushrooms, where the wine’s acidity complements the tomato base and its earthy notes match the toppings.
  • Eggplant Parmigiana: The richness of the dish is balanced by the high acidity and robust character of this wine.

Meat-Based Dishes:

  • Beef Bolognese: The hearty and rich sauce pairs splendidly with the tannins and fruitiness of the wine.
  • Lamb Chops: The robust flavours of lamb are a perfect match for the bold profile of Sangiovese.
  • Charcuterie Board: A selection of cured meats like salami and prosciutto accentuates the wine’s fruity and earthy notes.

Poultry and Game:

  • Roast Chicken with Herbs: The herbal flavours in the dish bring out the subtle herbaceous qualities of Sangiovese.
  • Duck Breast: The richness of the duck is complemented by the wine’s tannins and acidity.

Vegetarian and Vegan Options:

  • Grilled Vegetables: Charred zucchini, bell peppers, and eggplant pair well with the earthy tones of the wine.
  • Lentil and Bean Stews: The wine’s robustness stands up to the hearty flavours of these dishes.

Cheese Pairings:

  • Gorgonzola: The tangy and sharp flavour of this cheese contrasts nicely with the wine’s tannic structure.
  • Mature Cheddar: The sharpness and richness of the cheese are balanced by the acidity and fruitiness of this wine.

Desserts:

  • Dark Chocolate: The bitterness of dark chocolate complements the wine’s robust profile.
  • Berry Tart: The tartness of the berries echoes the natural acidity of Sangiovese.

Regional Specialties:

  • Osso Buco: The Milanese specialty, with its rich and meaty flavours, pairs wonderfully with the depth of Sangiovese.
  • Ratatouille: This Provencal vegetable dish harmonizes with the herbal and earthy notes of the wine.

Sangiovese’s ability to pair with a diverse range of dishes lies in its balance of acidity, tannins, and fruit-forward character. These pairings showcase the grape’s versatility and its capability to elevate a dining experience, whether it’s with a simple pizza or an elaborate gourmet dish.

Celebrated Wine Labels

Sangiovese Sangiovese Sangiovese
Country Wine Label Varietal Name & Style
AntinoriTuscany, Italy Pioneers in Tuscan winemaking, their Sangiovese blends are legendary.
Biondi-SantiTuscany, Italy Esteemed for their Brunello, a pure expression of Sangiovese’s elegance.
Castello di AmaTuscany, Italy Known for superb Chiantis, showcasing Sangiovese’s versatility.
PenfoldsSouth Australia An Australian take on Sangiovese, merging Old World tradition with New World innovation.
Seghesio Family VineyardsSonoma County, USA A Californian gem, crafting Sangiovese with a unique American twist.
Each of these wineries not only showcases the distinctiveness of their respective regions but also exemplifies the versatility and global appeal of Sangiovese..
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Conclusion

Sangiovese is more than just a wine; it’s a narrative of Italian winemaking, a testament to the versatility and enduring appeal of this beloved grape. Whether in a traditional Tuscan setting or a bold New World interpretation, Sangiovese consistently delivers a tasting experience that is both profound and delightful.

FAQ

What are some interesting facts about Sangiovese?

• Sangiovese, a star in the Italian wine scene, is best known as the primary grape in Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino.
• Originating from Tuscany, Italy, it’s the most widely planted grape in the country.
• Notable for its savoury flavours, Sangiovese often presents notes of cherry, tomato leaf, and earthy tones.
• It’s a grape that loves to bask in the sun, thriving in warm climates to fully ripen.

Where does the name Sangiovese originate from?

The name “Sangiovese” is thought to derive from ‘Sanguis Jovis’, which translates to ‘blood of Jupiter’, a name that speaks to its historic roots in Italian viticulture and mythology.

To which wines is Sangiovese similar?

Sangiovese shares similarities with Nebbiolo and Tempranillo. All three are known for their ability to convey terroir and possess a balance of acidity and tannins, making them excellent for ageing and pairing with food.

Which country produces the most Sangiovese?

Italy is the heartland of Sangiovese, especially in Tuscany, where it forms the backbone of many of the region’s prestigious wines, including Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino.

Is Sangiovese known by any other names?

Sangiovese is known by various synonyms across Italy, including Brunello, Morellino, and Nielluccio in Corsica. These regional names often reflect local traditions and winemaking styles.

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