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Sangiovese Wine

Sangiovese, the quintessential grape of Italy, offers a wine experience that reflects both the charm of Italian winemaking traditions and the dynamic nature of modern viticulture. This grape variety, with its deep historical roots and its inherent versatility, has become a symbol of Italian wine culture.

Historical Roots and Geography

Sangiovese's history is as rich as the soils it springs from. The name itself is said to derive from the Latin ‘Sanguis Jovis’, meaning ‘the blood of Jupiter’, indicating its longstanding presence in the pantheon of Italian viticulture. Sangiovese is predominantly grown in Central Italy, with Tuscany being its heartland. It's the backbone grape in renowned wines such as Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, but its influence extends into Umbria and even down to the heel of the Italian boot in Puglia.

Characteristics of the Grape

Sangiovese is a grape that wears many faces. At its core, it's a grape with high acidity and moderate to high tannin levels, creating wines that can range from firm and robust to elegant and supple. The skins are thinner than those of some other red varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, leading to a lighter colour in the glass, often a transparent ruby that belies the depth of flavour within.

Taste Profile

The taste profile of Sangiovese is as varied as the regions it hails from, though there are common threads. It typically showcases flavours of sour cherry, earthy tomato, and rustic herbal notes. Aged Sangiovese can develop more nuanced flavours, including tobacco, figs, and dried roses. It is a wine that seldom shies away from its affinity with oak, gaining vanilla, clove, and cedar notes from barrique ageing.

Vinification and Ageing

The art of Sangiovese winemaking has evolved. Traditional methods favoured large oak casks that allowed the wine to mature without imparting an overt oak character. Modern winemakers might opt for smaller barrels to encourage a more pronounced oak influence, adding complexity and structure to the wine. Sangiovese is often aged for several years before release, especially in the case of Brunello di Montalcino, which mandates a minimum of five years between vineyard and market.

The Influence of Terroir

Sangiovese is a varietal that is highly expressive of its terroir. The galestro soils of the Chianti region, the alberese and marl in Montalcino, and the clay of Montepulciano all leave an indelible imprint on the grape, leading to distinctly different wines under the Sangiovese umbrella. This sensitivity to terroir makes Sangiovese a fascinating study for connoisseurs interested in the subtle play of geography, climate, and wine.

Blending and Variations

While Sangiovese often shines on its own, it is also a team player, forming the backbone of many blends. In Chianti, it is blended with varieties such as Canaiolo and Colorino and in more modern takes, even with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Each blend expresses a different personality of Sangiovese, from the traditional to the innovative.

Food Pairings

Sangiovese and food are a pair made in heaven. Its high acidity and tannin structure make it an ideal companion to the richness of Italian cuisine. From a simple pizza to complex dishes like osso buco or wild boar stew, Sangiovese cuts through the fat and complements the flavours with its own earthy, herbal notes.

Global Reach and AdaptationSangiovese has stretched beyond Italian borders, finding new homes in places like Argentina, Australia, and California. In each new terroir, Sangiovese adapts and transforms, giving winemakers outside of Italy a piece of its adaptable nature to work with. While these international Sangioveses can be distinctly different from their Italian counterparts, they maintain the grape’s signature structure and versatility.

The Future of Sangiovese

Sangiovese is a grape variety that is both ancient and evolving. As it continues to spread across the globe, it finds new expressions and new audiences. Winemakers in Tuscany and beyond are continually experimenting with viticulture and vinification techniques to enhance the quality and character of Sangiovese wines.

Sangiovese wine embodies the spirit of Italian winemaking, a testament to the art that has been refined through generations. It is a wine that demands attention, not just for its bold, intricate flavours but also for the way it reflects the place and the people who craft it. With each bottle, Sangiovese tells a story of the land, a story of tradition, and, increasingly, a story of innovation.

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