Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Montepulciano: discover their aromas


There are three Italian grapes that often pique people’s curiosity: Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, and Montepulciano.

The Sangiovese grape has spawned a wide variety of wines, including the renowned Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino. Nebbiolo is the base of Barolo and Barbaresco wines, while Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is one of the most interesting red wines to emerge in Italy.

Let’s explore their typical aromas.


Knowledge of the variety dates back to the sixteenth century, but many factors suggest that it has been known in Italy for two thousand years and that it was cultivated by the Etruscans.

Sangiovese is the most widely cultivated red grape variety in Italy. It has great phenotypic variability: the wines are different according to their areas of production. It has many different names and forms the basis of the most famous Tuscan wines, including Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and Morellino di Scansano.

These are full-bodied and elegant wines, although some Sangiovese wines are light-bodied and fresh.

Typical aromas are violet, iris, broom, wild cherries, spices, coffee, tobacco, aromatic herbs, and delicate notes of game and leather.

Chianti Classico, located between Florence and Siena, is the oldest area. When the wine is young, it gives off a bouquet of violet, black cherry, and spices. With aging, it takes on notes of leather, tobacco, cinnamon, orange peel, and roasting.

Brunello di Montalcino is obtained from a very small variety of the Sangiovese grape; it was isolated and cultivated in the nineteenth century by the Biondi Santi family. It has aromas of blackberry jam, plum, cherry, and cedar, and with aging it develops a wonderful range of spices, game, and sweet tobacco.

The key Vino Nobile di Montepulciano  aromas are violet, black cherry, coffee, and incense.


The first dry Nebbiolo wine was created in the nineteenth century on the initiative of the Count of Cavour, following an assignment given to a French oenologist to develop a wine capable of aging well based on the model of Bordeaux wines; the enlightened politician requested it both for his own cellar and for that of the Marchesa Falletti of Barolo, who was also the enthusiastic and motivated promoter of the new aristocratic wine Barolo. It would be recognized as "the wine of kings and the king of wines.”

It is one of the most localized varieties, with its homeland in a small corner of the foggy hills of northern Italy.

In Italy, Nebbiolo is celebrated as producing majestic, acidic red wines with an assertive tannic texture that need long aging times to reveal a complex interweaving of aromas like rose, violet, plum, bitter chocolate, persimmon, cherry jam, licorice, cinnamon, tar, and truffle.

Two of the most famous wines made from Nebbiolo grapes are Barolo and Barbaresco. Barolo sites include Barolo, La Morra, Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d'Alba, and Monforte d'Alba, with renowned crus of Brunate, Cerequio, Cannubi, Bussia, and Ginestra. Barbaresco covers less than half the surface area of Barolo, with vineyards at lower altitudes enjoying a more temperate microclimate that guarantees an early harvest. The municipality of Barbaresco produces wines with a magnificent aromatic balance.

Barolo and Barbaresco wines can combine smoky notes, leather, spices, leaves, and jam, while more aged versions suggest aromas of incense, wax, mushrooms, and truffles.


In Imperial Rome this varietal was cited several times as “Pretonian wine” and is considered an authentic Grand Cru, capable of producing grapes rich in sugars and a distinctly resinous aroma, with the ability to maintain over time and improve its aromas to be ever punchier and spicier.

It is mainly cultivated in the area of ​​central Italy overlooking the Adriatic Sea and identified with the inland and coastal areas of Marche, Abruzzo, Molise, and Puglia, and to a lesser extent with Romagna, Umbria, and Lazio.

It is important to note the paradox that the Montepulciano grape was long associated with the Sangiovese grape due to Renaissance reports that describe its use in the Tuscan city of Montepulciano. This confusion between the name of the varietal and the Tuscan city has caused confusion and limited its spread. In modern times, Montepulciano is defined as a very refined wine that has a rare earthy taste and aromas of cherry and raspberry. Today, Montepulciano is worthy of being counted among the best in the world for its expressive capacity and the breadth of its olfactory curve.

The aroma bouquet can span from spicy curry and juniper to vegetable, olives, and fresh mushrooms to leather and hide and to graphite and brackish mineral, then to almond, ferrous, and aromatic herbs.

Some of the most famous areas and appellations in the Abruzzo region are Colline Teramane DOCG (complex bouquet), Pescara province (pepper), L'Aquila (thyme and mint, violet, hyacinth, and pine resin), Chieti (fruity content and balsamic richness).







Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino di Scansano, Sangiovese, …

Barolo, Barbaresco, Nebbiolo

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG, il Rosso Conero riserva DOCG, …



Most of Italy.

Small area in the north west of Italy.


Central Italy.



Blackberry, plum, cherry, cedar, violet, iris, broom, wild cherries, spices, coffee, tobacco, aromatic herbs and delicate notes of game and leather.

Rose, violet, plum, bitter chocolate, persimmon, cherry jam, licorice, cinnamon, tar and truffle.

Spicy curry and juniper, vegetable, olives, fresh mushrooms, leather, graphite, brackish mineral, almond, ferrous, aromatic herbs.





Older Post Newer Post