Sangiovese is the red grape variety most cultivated in Italy. It has many different names and forms the basis of the most famous Tuscan wines.
It is a grape variety with great phenotypic variability: the wines are different according to their areas of production. It prefers growing in places with warm days and cool nights. Evolution and trends have consecrated it as a base for full-bodied and elegant wines.
Sangiovese matures late, is quite acidic and tannic, and expresses a range of typical aromas: violet, iris, broom, wild cherries, spices, coffee, tobacco, aromatic herbs and delicate notes of game and leather. There are, however, many types of Sangiovese from which different wines are obtained. These wines include the sublime and dense reds of Tuscany, the eclectic reds of Romagna, Umbrian reds, reds from the sunny Marche, and the soft reds from the New World.
Knowledge of the variety dates back to the sixteenth century, but many factors suggest that it had been known in Italy for two thousand years and that it was already cultivated by the Etruscans.
Certainly, it is the variety that represents a combination of sober elegance and fervent opulence, especially in the region between the Apennines and the Tyrrhenian Sea, a mythical cultural landscape excellently preserved, beautiful and hilly, with a woody mantle of holm oaks and crossed by winding streams. Viticulture is practiced everywhere here and it is useful to trace the most representative profiles of aromatic and sensorial expressions; a third of the territory is occupied by Chianti which includes several provinces and includes the renowned Chianti Classico and the sub-areas named for geographical origin.
The common feature in this area is obviously the production of wine from Sangiovese grapes and among the different declinations with concentrated and tannic wines, or fragrant and immediate, there is a delicate common aroma: blackberry!
The aromas of Sangiovese in Chianti
Chianti Classico is the oldest area between Florence and Siena and in reality it is not homogeneous on a sensorial level: towards the north between San Casciano and Greve the wines have more fragrance while in the territories on the southern edges of the area such as Castellina, Gaiole, Radda and Castelnuovo Berardenga, they are richer and fuller, at times even rougher.
The differences are also determined by the altimetry and the composition of the soil, where it is sandy and gravelly it produces more delicate and elegant wines, while with a predominance of marl, a gray-blue clayey marl or with alberese, a calcareous sandstone with marine sediments, the wines are more vigorous.
When the wine is young it gives off a bouquet of violet, black cherry and spices, which with aging takes on notes of leather, tobacco, cinnamon, orange peel and roasting.
Chianti Rufina, east of Florence, was admitted to the appellation in the 1930s; sandstone and marl give the wines structure with a pleasant fruity tone.
The Chianti Colli Fiorentini is fresher and more immediate, as is the Colli Aretini.
The Chianti Colli Senesi enjoys the best plots and therefore is richer and more prestigious.
Chianti Montalbano is elaborated as a "secondary" wine since it includes the small area of Carmignano, located west of Florence. This was already protected in the first document of the Chianti area by the Medici family and historically includes the Cabernet Sauvignon grape; the wine is soft with aromas of plum and eucalyptus.
The Barco Reale di Carmignano is a wine with a greater fruity fragrance.
Colline Lucchesi is a denomination that surrounds the city from which it takes its name and generates a floral and fruity wine.
Vin Santo is a dessert wine produced in almost the entire territory using dried white grapes matured in small kegs, but it is the Occhio di Pernice version that enhances the eclectic Sangiovese sometimes accompanied by small portions of aromatic grapes and which manifests itself with a bouquet typical of violet and dried roses, thyme and mint.
The aromas of Sangiovese in Brunello di Montalcino
Brunello di Montalcino is the most internationally appreciated Italian red wine; it identifies itself with the municipality of the same name, located on a hill nestled between the Ombrone and Arbia valleys. It is obtained from a very small grape variety called Brunello grape, isolated and cultivated in the nineteenth century by the Biondi Santi family; the wine has strength and power with an intense bouquet of blackberry jam, plum, cherry and cedar, which with aging develops a wonderful range of spices, game and sweet tobacco.
Rosso di Montalcino is the second wine of the area with gentler and crisp tones.
The aromas of Sangiovese in its declinations
The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is produced on the hills surrounding the medieval town of the same name mainly from Sangiovese grapes locally called Prugnolo Gentile. This is not a very extensive area with sandy soil and a cool climate in Southern Tuscany and is a worthy representative of Sangiovese that originates a renowned red; its aromas are violet, black cherry, coffee and incense.
Rosso di Montepulciano represents a lighter and fresher wine obtained with younger vines.
Bolgheri is the picturesque center south of Livorno and is the home of the famous wines made with "imported" grapes although it recognizes the use of Sangiovese here renamed Sangioveto Grosso; an area that enjoys a constant climate compared to the north of the region with hot and dry summers to which the Monte Amiata contributes, which it protects with its peak; the wine can express aromas of herbs and ripe fruits, spices and leather.
Montescudaio is located not far from the Bolgheri area and produces a full-bodied wine with fruity notes.
It is the Maremma that is affirmed as a wine reference point of southwestern Tuscany: Morellino di Scansano is the wine produced south of Grosseto in the internal Maremma from vineyards on clay and slate terrain with the ubiquitous Sangiovese here recognized under the name of Morellino; the color and size of the grape distinguish it from the others, the typical aroma is suspended between blackberries and violets.
Continuing in nearby Umbria, we find the vine brilliantly exalted south of Perugia in the Torgiano Rosso Riserva, a well-known and extraordinary wine which also includes a balance of Canaiolo grapes and which is capable of aging, improving itself for several decades; its bouquet includes red fruit jam, black pepper, cardamom, licorice and carob.
Romagna is home to Sangiovese, indeed according to literature it is its original homeland and is the most cultivated grape variety in this region. As often happens, the vine gives different results by virtue of the area, the soil and the microclimate; and here is the gentle wine of Imola, Faenza and Rimini which becomes more inspirational in Forli and Cesena; the common trait from the best vineyards are the aromas of violet and morello cherry, licorice and menthol.
The Marche offers the beautiful Conero promontory wh
Nielluccio is the Corsican variety that corresponds to the Tuscan Sangiovese which recently arrived on the island and which dominates the northern area with the prestigious Patrimonio denomination, the first created in the area in the sixties; certainly one of the best with limestone-clay soil with solid reds that capture splendid herbaceous and peppery scents.
Sangiovese in the New World
In California, the cultivation of the vine has grown a lot in recent decades, above all because some winemakers are of Italian origin; its success is linked to the choices of the soil: here the aromatic notes turn to notes of raspberry and toasted almonds.
Argentina does well in the Mendoza region. And South Australia also has some success.
The history of Sangiovese is long and fascinating, since its origins it has been defined as a “juicy vine full of wine, which never fails”.
Men and places, praise and appreciation, have guaranteed a solid and lasting conviction in the reputation of its quality and uniqueness.
- Luisito Perazzo