Sangiovese is a truly distinct grape variety. Its colour is quite pale, then it has high acidity for a Mediterranean climate grape, plus a light body and firm tannins; often described as having the texture of tea leaf. Its flavours are reminiscent of sour cherry with a touch of wild herbs. On paper that doesn’t sound attractive but in reality it works. The delicacy of its colour and body give it elegance, the acidity and sour cherry fruit make it refreshing and in the hands of a good winemaker its tannins are nicely chewy.
Chianti wines are predominantly Sangiovese but are now often blended with a smattering of other grapes like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon to give more fruit to the mid palate and add body.
The famous wines of neighbouring area Brunello di Montalcino are made from a slightly different strain Sangiovese Grosso which tend to make plumper and richer wines.
Typically Sangiovese is aged in large neutral oak barrels. Styles that say “Riserva” means it has been aged longer; at least two years. But you don’t get the flavours of oak, the impact of oak is to allow a bit of softening to the wine through oxidative age and that allows more interesting tobacco, pot pourri characters to emerge.
A light bodied, high acidity, high tannin grape. Multi clonal, meaning it has lots of different strains that produce wines with varying styles. A vigorous vine which needs careful management to harness its energy to produce ripe fruits.
Nebbiolo, Tempranillo, Corvina, Xinomavro
Italy: Chianti, Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montapulciano
Australia: Langhorne Creek, Margaret River
Roasted vegetables with polenta, Tomato or Bolognese sauces, Sausages, Cheese toasties