Explore one of Italy's most important grapes - Sangiovese - from the 100% expressions to the various blends we carry!
Buy a few bottles from this list and create a blind-tasting challenge at home!
SANGIOVESE - Italy's most versatile grape?
This ‘divine’ grape – from ‘sanguis Jovis’ meaning ‘the blood of Jove’ or Jupiter, god of the sky and king of the gods – has lived up to its name by creating some truly regal wines.
IN THE VINEYARD
Sangiovese matures slowly and ripens late. Its thin skin suits lower elevations, although hillside vineyards offer greater diurnal range that helps maintain acidity levels - key to balanced and long-ageing wines.
This makes it a perfect vine for many central Italy sites, often cooled by the ocean breeze, soaking up the sun's rays in the foothills of the Apennines mountains. What a life, eh? :)
Sangiovese is well known by lovers of Tuscan wines like Chianti and of course the celebrated Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. It’s also responsible for the Tuscan Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (not to be confused by the Montepulciano grape).
Alongside Barolo, these famous Sangiovese wines are arguably Italy’s premier wines for ageing.
This widely planted vine is also great for displaying its specific terroir and also its winemaker's intention. As Jancis Robinson says, its "dominant viticultural characteristics are that it can vary as much as Pinot Noir in its sensitivity to place".
From light and fruity 'quaffable' to deeply complex, Sangiovese is a versatile wine!
Expect a balanced wine from Sangiovese, with firm tannins and high acidity, usually displaying both fruit and spice aromas, with more savoury notes as it ages.
Dark cherry is a common flavour, but look for wild raspberry and plum flavours too. One useful 'tell' in blind tastings can be a subtle tomato leaf note!
For matching with food, given the naturally savoury taste of Sangiovese, try herb or tomato dishes to enhance the fruity flavours in the grape. It’s also superb with hard cheeses and rich meats.
FURTHER STUDIES ...
Here are some of our favourite resources for studying wine or grapes, from reading materials to YouTube links:
* Read up on the grape and its most famous wine styles at WINE FOLLY.
* Geek out on the grape with Jancis Robinson.
* Subscribe to the SOMM.tv channel (packed full of info with movies, shorts, vineyard visits, blind tastings and so much more) and checkout the intro to Sangiovese here.
* Not sure you're saying it right? Use the WSET pronunciation guide here!
Try a varietal wine (100% Sangiovese, or the main grape focus) to get to know the typical character of this important grape:
* TOSCANA SANGIOVESE 2018
Start out with an introduction to Sangiovese in its most famous home - Tuscany!
This red has a very rounded and accessible character, with soft tannins. Great first red of the evening.
Buy a bottle of TOSCANA SANGIOVESE 2018 here
* CHIANTI Riserva 2015
One of Italy's most classic wines, this DOCG wine is right at the top of the list for famous Sangiovese styles. In fact, centuries ago Chianti was one of the first areas of Italy to be designated DOCG status. It continues to be popular to this day, loved for its notes of berry and spice, with a rustic charm.
As a regular customer likes to say of this Barbanera family wine, this is "the most affordable quality Chianti on the island" ... we couldn't agree more!
Buy a bottle of CHIANTI Riserva 2015 here
* ORA 2012
Venture outside Tuscany and try this single variety Romagna Sangiovese DOC Superiore. ORA is produced at the SanPa charity estate* in Emilia-Romagna, on the east coast of the Italian peninsula, where the vines look out to the Adriatic Sea.
* The winery of San Patrignano is so much more than an award-winning wine estate. It is a home for young people who have lost their way and a community project that pours love and hope into every bottle of wine. The estate symbolises a belief in life and what better way to do that than though wine - the lifeblood of Italian culture. The production process utilises manual labour such as harvesting by hand to involve as many residents in the winemaking as possible. The result is a collection of extraordinary wines that top most wine rating lists and offer exceptional value for money.
Buy a bottle of ORA 2012 here
* ROSSO DI MONTALCINO 2012
Made from the Sangiovese Grosso vine, this is another classic Tuscan wine. As a 2012 vintage, this also gives you the chance to understand how Sangiovese ages in the bottle.
The 2012 vintage has been noted as an exceptional year for the wines of Montalcino* and Sesta Di Sopra's Rosso is drinking beautifully now in 2021, moving from fruit notes to a more savoury and leathery character.
* for Brunello 2012 (this wine's big brother) critics rated it highly and notes a similarity to 1995 (a five-star vintage, arguably one of the very best vintages for Brunello di Montalcino in the last 20-30 years).
As with all our wines, this is lovingly made at a small-production family estate. Note the cute winery logo - an Etruscan symbol depicting the sun, based on a relic found on the grounds of the farm :)
Buy a bottle of ROSSO DI MONTALCINO 2012 here
* GOVERNO Chianti 2017
And now for something different ...
Sticking with the Sangiovese varietal style, this is a very different wine that uses part-dried grapes. Think of it as a richer, fruitier Chianti with almost an appassimento character.
As the winery explains, "'Governo' derives from the verb 'govern' (in Italian - governare), frequently used in Tuscan tradition to denote something that was "created in a certain way". This term is strictly connected to a peasant tradition where the wine was made in small cellars and there wasn't enough space to ferment the grapes - harvested in different period - in separate vats. Doing so, more than 2 fermentation processes could happen. Today, everything is different and studied to obtain the best results that this Governo method could give to the winemaker. The result is a full-bodied wine with over-ripe notes perfectly and harmoniously married with the fresh wine's fruity scents."
Buy a bottle of GOVERNO Chianti 2017 here
THE ART OF THE BLEND
Which other grapes are common blending partners for Sangiovese? How does Sangiovese influence a blend? Taste these delicious wines to further your understanding of central Italy's most popular variety:
* L'OPERA 2018
This is an easy-drinking red and a great introduction to four key grape varieties - local Sangiovese with Primitivo of Apulia, plus Nero d'Avola of Sicily and international Syrah.
A perfect pizza or pasta pairing!
Buy a bottle of L'OPERA 2018 here
* TICHHE 2017
Kicking off the more classic Tuscany blends, this wine brings together Sangiovese and the much-loved international grape Merlot. It matures in barriques for at least 12 months. The typical red fruit notes of Sangiovese are joined by some darker fruit character (hints of blackberry), with notes of chocolate and tobacco leaf.
It's a new wine from the Barbanera family and was named after the grandfather of the winery who survived through tough times in the 1930s selling his wine wherever he could #wartimewine! Fast forward to now and this delicious blend would surely make him proud! 😜
Buy a bottle of TICHHE 2017 here
* RASOLE 2016
Continuing with the new La Forconate line, this is a blend of Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc - a classic Super Tuscan combo! It matures in barriques (70% new) for 24 months. The character is big and bold, perfect for rich dishes like BBQ.
The name references "the typical 'rasole' of the Tuscan landscape" - small black walls, made of lava stone, which are called 'rasole' in the local dialect and surround the vineyards.
Buy a bottle of RASOLE 2016 here
* FELCIAINO 2018
This is the 'baby brother' to a special 100-pointer Super Tuscan called Guado de Gemoli (see the 2009 vintage here), blending together the classic Bolgheri mix of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot.
The boutique estate of Giovanni Chiappini (run with the help of his daughter Martina) is happily situated right next door to the famous estate of Ornellaia and benefits from the same fabulous climate, exposure, soil etc. This is a perfect example of the importance of sourcing great quality wines at a very fair price point, compared to others that arguably push up prices simply due to their branding.
As the winery explains, this wine boasts "an outstanding structure, able to evolve gradually and to refine itself even over years".
Buy a bottle of FELCIAINO 2018 here
* MONTEFALCO ROSSO 2012
Let's move beyond Tuscany ...
This is an important blend from Umbria - the land-locked region of central Italy. The local Sangiovese grape is co-fermented with international grapes Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, plus some of Umbria's unique endemic vine, Sagrantino.
Expect a smooth and fruity red, with some peppery notes from the Sangiovese.
Buy a bottle of MONTEFALCO ROSSO 2012 here
* ROSSOBASTARDO 2016
This delicious blend of Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and late harvest Sagrantino is the winemaker's most popular wine, with the late Pope on a list of celebrity drinkers!
As well as a catchy name this wine is addictively easy-drinking; smooth and fruity, with peppery notes. The use of late harvest Sagrantino
Buy a bottle of ROSSOBASTARDO 2016 here
* MONTEFALCO ROSSO Riserva 2014
The riserva Montefalco Rosso is made from the best selection of grapes and undergoes a longer ageing in barrel.
The layers of complexity in this red require extended decanting or breathing to open up ... and be sure to keep swirling in your glass, to really let its character show.
2014 was an outstanding vintage, resulting in a classic Montefalco Rosso character; smooth and fruity, with dark plum, redcurrant, blueberry, vanilla, Christmas spices, hints of violets, pepper and so much more!
Buy a bottle of MONTEFALCO ROSSO Riserva 2014 here
MAGNUM - the big bastard :)
* ROSSOBASTARDO 2016 magnum
Planning a dinner party? "GO BIG & STAY HOME"
This red blend is a very popular choice for parties (or gifts) as it works so well for 'newbies' and 'aficionados' alike. Accessible for those who don't do well with an overly tannic wine, yet layered and interesting for those keen to explore something different.
Order a magnum to be sure all your guests have enough for seconds!! :)
Get your magnum of ROSSOBASTARDO (150cl) here
* PEPEROSA 2018
Like a glass of rosato on a sunny afternoon?
This Umbrian rosato is a delicious blend of Sangiovese and Sagrantino (the 'healthy heart' grape that cleans your heart).
Notes from the winemaker: "after a careful manual selection, grapes start a process of cold maceration followed by a soft pressing; fermentation under controlled temperature in order to preserve fragrances and colour ... aroma has fragrant note of Annurca apple, white pulp fruits, wisteria, the sweetness of cherry and blackberry ... characteristic that makes this product unique is the tannin content".
Buy a bottle of PEPEROSA 2018 here
If you need helping deciding where to start, please do contact me for personal recommendations and advice.