Sangiovese

Tuscany’s most important grape is the red grape Sangiovese and this is Italy’s most important grapes overall. It’s very complex, lively, and an amazing and versatile pair with foods. It has countless styles, from light, simple wines to Tuscan wine wonders.

In the New World, Sangiovese usually gives softer wine than in Tuscany. Nevertheless, more and more beautiful Sangiovese are being made in California. More characteristic Sangiovese wines are already being born in Argentina, and there is also a great deal of interest in the variety in Australia.

Sangiovese is the 13th most planted grape in the world (since 2000) and the most planted varietal in Italy taking up at least 11% of Italy’s total vineyard acreage. The major plantings are in Tuscany, Puglia, and Emilia-Romagna (but also in Argentina, France, and in the United States). Its home literal and spiritual is Italy. The name Sangiovese means the blood of Jupiter.

Characteristic

Like Pinot Noir, Sangiovese is famously sensitive to its terroir.

Sangiovese is a grape with very good acidity that especially comes out in the cooler climate styles and has often a medium-plus or medium-high amount of tannin and some very red-fruited characteristic, very cherry driven with extra notes like leather and tobacco.

Its high acid generally makes it a great wine to pair with a variety of foods and the classic pairing is pasta dishes that are sauced with tomato.

There are a number of different wines in Tuscany that are based on the Sangiovese grape. The three most important are the Chianti (which must be at least 80% Sangiovese), the Brunello di Montalcino (must be 100% of Sangiovese), and the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. These wines tend to be expensive so if you don’t want to break the bank try the Rosso di Montalcino, another 100% Sangiovese but with shorter aging requirements the producers will make and sell relatively quickly to help cover expenses while the Brunello is aging.

Photo credit: Agne27