Blood of Jove (literally translated) The principal grape of Chianti - in fact, the principle grape of all of Tuscany - has had its ups and downs. For a stint in the 70s and 80s, wines labeled "Chianti" contained cheap red wine packaged in a straw casked bottle, most popular for the candle holder it would become. But no more. Sangiovese re-established itself as the noble variety of Tuscany, producing collectible wines of Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and acting as the backbone in many Super Tuscan blends. Not just for collectibles, Sangiovese's light fruit and bright acidity leads to excellent everyday wines meant for the dinner table.
Notable Facts Sangiovese mutates easily, and therefore has many clones - the most notable being Brunello, of Brunello di Montalcino fame. Sangiovese is a slow growing, late ripening grape. It has high acidity and a thin skin, which makes it difficult to master. If not cared for correctly, the grape will produce a wine overly acidic with unripe fruit flavors. When pruned judiciously and picked at the right time, Sangiovese creates wine with delicious structure and fruit - and a mean backbone of acidity. This acidity makes it an ideal match to a multitude of foods, particularly of Italian origin, like tomato-based dishes, pastas and pizzas.
Summing it up Successful Sites: Tuscany
Common Descriptors: red cherry, red raspberries, olives, plum, spice, earth,
Learn More About Tuscany, Italy
One of the most important wine regions in Italy, Tuscany is home to the cities of Florence and Siena, the districts of Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino, and the wineries of Sassicaia, Tignanello and Ornellaia. Tuscany is also home to the indigenous Italian grape variety, Sangiovese. Most of the wine coming from Tuscany is made from some clone of this varietal, but a growing trend, started by the renegade winemakers of those Super Tuscans, is to incorporate more international varietals.
The most well known sub-districts of Tuscany are Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (note that Montepulciano here refers to the local village, not the grape variety found in the Italian region of Abruzzi). Wine labeled from these regions is DOC-regulated and Sangiovese-based blends. Quality wine from these DOC areas has been on the rise for decades, with top-notch winemakers and wineries shedding the low-quality image once held for Tuscan wine by producing consistently outstanding bottlings that range from deliciously drinkable to highly ageable. Newer to the scene are regions like Bohlgeri and the Maremma, home to of what are now termed "Super-Tuscans," named for the wine coming from the Tuscany area, but not following all of the DOC or DOCG laws required in Italy. In the
1970's, some pioneer winemakers began buying land outside of Chianti and Montalcino, and planting not only Sangiovese, but also international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The wine they produced only fit into the lowest Italian category of "vina da tavola," but the winemakers sold the wine for high prices, creating an almost cult following, and spurning a new wine category called IGT.