The Chameleon of Grapes

The Sangiovese grape is a bit of a chameleon; easily altering its genetics to fit the environment by adapting to many different types of vineyard soils. It does seem to thrive in soils with a high concentration of limestone, having the potential to produce elegant wines with pronounced aromas. In the Chianti Classico region, Sangiovese thrives on the highly friable shale-clay soil known as galestro. In the Montalcino region, there is a high proportion of limestone-based alberese soils alternating with deposits of galestro. The lesser zones of the generic Chianti appellation are predominantly clay, which often produce high quality wines as alberese and galestro do.

Early theories on the origin of Sangiovese dated the grape to the time of Ancient Roman winemaking. It is the belief that the grape was first cultivated in Tuscany by the Etruscans from wild Vitis vinifera vines. The literal translation of the grape's name, the "blood of Jove", refers to the Roman god Jupiter. According to legend, the name was coined by monks from the commune of Santarcangelo di Romagna in what became the province of Rimini in the Emilia-Romagna region of east-central Italy.

As previously noted, due to its remarkable ability to environmentally adapt, Sangiovese wines offer a wide range of tastes from very earthy and rustic to round and fruit-forward. Regardless of where it is grown, it exhibits flavors of dried cherries, figs and roses –especially with older Sangiovese wines. Styles vary from red still wines, to rosato to sweet passito, semi-sparkling frizzante and the dessert wine Vin Santo.

With naturally high acidity as well as moderate to high tannin content and light color, Sangiovese's high acidity and moderate alcohol makes it a very food-friendly wine. When it comes to food and wine pairings, one of the classic pairings in Italian cuisine is tomato-based pasta and pizza sauces with a Sangiovese-based Chianti.

Young Sangiovese wine has fresh fruity flavours of strawberry and a little spiciness, but it readily takes on oaky, even tarry, flavours when aged in barrels. Perhaps not as aromatic as other red wine varieties such as Pinot noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, Sangiovese often has a flavour profile of sour red cherries with earthy aromas and tea leaf notes. Wines made from Sangiovese usually have medium-plus tannins and great acidity. Sangiovese pairs with a wide range of foods because of its medium weighted body and savory character.

The most sought-after Sangiovese-based wines have a balance between their fruit and earthy components. To say ‘fruit-forward’ is better than ‘rustic’ really does not do this incredible grape variety justice.

Here are a several notable Sangiovese synonyms and regional wine growing areas:

Chianti, Morellino di Scansano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Prugnolo Gentile, Sangiovese Grosso, Brunello di Montalcino, Nielluccio, Rosso di Montepulciano, Morellino, Rosso di Montalcino and Montefalco Rosso.

Sangiovese wine has something for everyone, from delicate floral strawberry aromas to the intensely dark and tannic flavours.

Please check out our array of Sangiovese based wines: