Sangiovese Wine Guide

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Parents & Origin: Ciliegiolo + Calabrese Montenuovo (Central Italy)
Grape: Small, spherical, dark purple skin
Flavors: Tart cherry, red plum, strawberry, fig
Notable Regions: Italy
Sweetness: Dry
Body: Medium
Tannins: High
Acidity: High
ABV: 11.5-13%

The History of Sangiovese

The Sangiovese grape can be traced back to ancient Rome. In fact, the literal translation of Sangiovese is “blood of Jove,” referring to the Roman god Jupiter. It most likely originated in Tuscany, where it is now widely grown and celebrated. DNA profiling from 2004 revealed that Sangiovese’s parent grapes were Ciliegiolo and Calabrese Montenuovo.

The first written mention of Sangiovese came in 1590, when famed Italian agronomist Giovanvettorio Soderini wrote of a grape called “Sangiogheto.” Nonetheless, it was not until the 1700s that Sangiovese would gain attention as a prominent grape varietal. During this early surge in popularity, the grape was used primarily for blending, as it was seen as too harsh and too acidic when made into wine by itself.

In the mid-1800s, producers in Tuscany’s Chianti region popularized the beloved Chianti wine, which is made from mostly Sangiovese grapes and a smaller proportion of Canaiolo or other varietals. Chianti accounted for most recognition of Sangiovese throughout history, and today the Sangiovese grape is the most commonly grown in Italy.

In the mid-20th century, a wine called Brunello di Montalcino was produced, a 100% varietal Sangiovese that impressed both critics and wine enthusiasts. Today, Sangiovese takes many forms, whether as a varietal wine, Chianti blend, or even blended into other wines.

Interesting Fact: In the 20th century, Sangiovese became a prominent grape in the development of Super Tuscans, a term used to describe wines that break from Italy’s DOC requirements in order to produce unique results. The development of Super Tuscans allowed for the production of 100% varietal Sangiovese as well as blends that use international grapes.

Sangiovese Food Pairings

Due to its high acidity but relatively tame body, Sangiovese wine pairs well with a diverse variety of foods.

The Best Sangiovese Food Pairings

Sangiovese’s savory flavors go well with anything involving herbs and tomatoes, with rich roasted meats, cured sausages, and hard cheeses also being ideal due to the high tannin content. Much like Chianti, varietal Sangiovese goes well with pizza and pasta in any situation.

Food Pairings to Avoid with Sangiovese

Like most red wines, Sangiovese is not ideal for lighter dishes such as those involving seafood, despite the varietal’s relative versatility.

Sangiovese Tasting Notes

Varietal Sangiovese offers primary flavors of tart cherry, red plum, strawberry, and fig, with subtle notes of roasted pepper, tomato, leather, clay, brick, tobacco, smoke, oregano, thyme, dried roses, or potpourri. On the nose, it offers aromas of earth and tea leaf. Sangiovese wines usually have medium-to-high tannins and high acidity, balanced by moderate alcohol and body. Sangiovese wines exhibit some aging potential, with brief oak aging being commonplace and bottle aging lasting for up to a decade for some wines, though many wines are also drunk young.

Sangiovese's Aging Potential

Sangiovese wines have a wide variety of aging potential depending on the region and specifications of the wine, though most Sangiovese is aged for at least a few months in oak. Chianti and New World Sangiovese has a relatively short aging window of 3-4 years, while many other examples of varietal Sangiovese can be aged for anywhere from 5-10 years. Premium Sangiovese wines, such as Brunello di Montepulciano, require bottle aging for up to 20 years to bring out their subtle flavors.

Our Selection of Sangiovese

  • Italy: 2017 Due Mari Sangiovese I.G.T. - Hailing from Puglia, a tomato and olive oil-rich section of southern Italy, this harmonious 100% Sangiovese is an intense ruby red in the glass. 2017 Due Mari Sangiovese Puglia’s bouquet is rich with plums and notes of cherries, strawberries, violet, and pepper. The palate is dry and balanced, with light tannins, making it the perfect companion for pizza and pasta.
  • Italy: 2017 Cala De' Poeti Sangiovese I.G.T. - Sangiovese is the most popular Italian wine grape, producing smooth and velvety red wines that are perfect with rich Italian meals. Like its 95-point Platinum Medal-winning 2015 vintage, 2017 Cala de Poeti Sangiovese is made from 100% Sangiovese grapes, and hails from Puglia, the olive oil-rich heel of Italy’s boot. This harmonious and fruity red is sure to please with flavors of tart cherry and red plum.
  • Italy: 2017 Bertoli Sangiovese di Puglia I.G.T. - Classics are time-tested and refined, with the ability to surprise even after a long time. Think gourmet grilled cheese, your favorite singer’s surprising 10th album, or Sangiovese wine—the most famous Italian grape, known for its delicate and elegant fruitiness. The new 2017 vintage of multiple award-winning Bertoli Sangiovese di Puglia I.G.T. croons from the glass with supple berry flavors, silky mouthfeel, and a lively encore.
  • California: 2015 Sierra Trails Lodi Sangiovese - From Lodi, 2015 Sierra Trails Sangiovese offers aromas of dried cranberry balanced by syrupy balsamic and caramelized brown sugar. It’s Italian on the nose, and quintessentially California on the palate with big fruit, front and center, elegant tannins, and a smooth finish. This wine joins us from Lodi, California, the Wine Enthusiast 2015 Wine Region of the Year, which has “…grabbed international attention for the quality of the new wines made from its legendary old Zinfandel vines and a profusion of young, diverse grape varieties.”
  • Italy: 2017 Cantus Sangiovese di Puglia I.G.T. - If Italy’s a boot, Puglia is located on its heel—an undeserving location for the home of bright sun, refreshing ocean breezes, and wine grapes like the ones in dry, earthy, and satisfying 2017 Cantus Sangiovese di Puglia I.G.T. Open a bottle and bring any meal to life with bold berry and cherry flavors, and a hint of rich figs.

Sangiovese in a Nutshell

Since its ancient origins in Central Italy, Sangiovese has risen from its humble origins as a blending grape into the most grown varietal in Italy. Used in a wide variety of wines from red blends to Chianti, Sangiovese also functions as a savory and balanced varietal wine, offering flavors of cherry, plum, strawberry, and fig. Pair a bottle of Sangiovese with rich meat dishes, tomato sauces, and Italian classics.