Week 52 – Sangiovese

We tasted: Cantina di Montalcino Brunello di Montalcino, M&S

Tasting Notes

Emma says: “I start our final tasting week with a mix of relief and a tinge of sadness. If I’m honest, we took on a bigger project than I imagined.

Finding, tasting and writing about one wine a week was more demanding than I thought. Not to mention, I didn’t realise Andy would be quite the taskmaster. Apparently my grammar is pretty poor, and he’s been doing a heavy red pen edit on it each week!

But at the same time, it has been a fun project to share and I do now understand what Andy does and doesn’t like a lot better which was the fundamental thing I was trying to achieve. The feedback we have received from you all has also been great and is a real motivator for us to carry on into 2019.

Sangiovese wasn’t the obvious choice as a final grape but I’m now really pleased. Just pouring this glass of wine I knew it was going to be a total “old skool” classic. It has that brown red hue of an aged classic wine, and the aroma that springs from the glass is full of that complex savoury charm; balsamic, leathery and smoky with brooding cherry fruits underlying. All these layers of character come through as the wine changes and reacts with age, and this to me is what make this wine so interesting. To taste it had that certain rusticity that can make Sangiovese so distinct, a chalky texture to the tannins, and acidity really bursting in the mouth. What made this wine sit above the average Sangiovese (as Brunello should) was the decent weight of dark cherry and plums working alongside that tannin and an array of flavours, from dried herbs, to orange peel, cinnamon and an earthy clay note. All working in balance so they don’t fight with each other.

I’m glad we traded up to Brunello. Chianti is often overlooked as a simple pizza restaurant wine, but it can be so interesting when made in the right hands.”

Andy says: “The final week, and unfortunately I have my first/last cold of the year, and I can’t taste a thing.

Or, maybe this wine is just fairly insipid. The first thing I noticed was the high acidity, and I think this is the third wine this year that has made me do the ‘sour shudder’, although perhaps it needs to be rebranded as the ‘acid attack’. The only thing I can agree with from Emma’s notes is the brown/red hue. I’m going to have to re-taste in a day or so when my head clears up.”

Buying Guide

Sangiovese is the grape behind Tuscan wines, especially Chianti. It has a light colour and flavour but a distinct tea leaf textured tannin which gives it a unique character. The best Sangiovese tends to be in the Chianti Classico hillside areas. We will be looking for one form a great producer to end our 52 weeks on a high note.

3 thoughts to “Week 52 – Sangiovese”

  1. And finally, a few weeks late, I tasted my final one of the 52 grapes. My Sangiovese was a Vallepicciola Chianti Classico Riserva 2015 from Castelnuovo Berardenga in Tuscany. The wine made a very fitting finale to the year – it was a Christmas gift and whopping 15% ABV.

    The wine had a deep garnet colour and quite a nose. It was deep and fruity with prunes, plums, pomegranate and raisins. After a bit of air some nice warming oaky flavours came out too – cloves, cigar box, nutmeg, balsamic. It was all much richer than expected with loads of layers.

    The palate continued the same theme. It was very big, full bodied, dry and strong. The texture was smooth and balanced with medium tannin on the tongue and some hearty warmth in the throat. The flavour was deep with prune, cherry, raisin and clove – almost Christmas pudding flavours. This wasn’t at all what I expected from a Chianti. I was expecting something more light and earthy, but this was getting towards the deep, flavoursome Port end of the spectrum. Not that I minded! It was a real winter warmer and also had a very good length. It demanded a bit more to accompany it than the pizza I had.

    Overall, it was a big, fruity, layered red beast to end the year with a bang and it got a thumbs-up from me. I’m glad it was a good one to go out on.

    And that just leaves me to echo Jason in saying a big thank you to Emma and Andy. I’ve really enjoyed following 52 grapes over the last year and have learnt a huge amount, discovered multiple new grapes and regions and become a bona fide wine bore when out with friends! Your comments and descriptions were always excellent and I loved the song puns which never failed to make me chuckle. I will definitely be keeping up my explorations of new wines and look forward to returning to some of my favourites from the 52 grapes.

    All the best for 2019.

  2. Wine -Chianti Classico Riserva 2013 Villa Antinori (Majestic £22)

    colour – deep ruby

    This wine was 90% Sangiovese, with the remainder made up from merlot and cab-sav; I struggled to find a single varietal.

    On the nose, this was a very rich, earthy style wine, with lots of leather, black fruits, liquorice and tobacco supported by an underlying aroma of damp leaves and wood shavings. It’s hard to explain, but this wine felt ‘right’ in the sense that it was perfectly balanced, it felt settled and self-confident, in that it wasn’t out to impress or win any new converts, it knew what it was doing, in much the same way that Belgian Trappist beers feel when compared to the produce from new microbreweries.

    The taste pretty much backed up the opinion that I had formed from the aromas; black fruits, black cherries, blackcurrants, plums, leather and liquorice all featured, with just a tiny hint of violets. The balance of these flavours was pretty much perfect, with the velvety softness of the wine making it feel rather special.

    This is yet another grape to add to the (very long) short-list of wines to explore further, that I have made this year.

    On a final note:

    I have really enjoyed the 52 Grapes journey this year, I have been taken out of my comfort zone, and been challenged quite a bit. I have also learned more about wine in this last year than I thought possible. I have also learned a lot about where the best place to buy wines are (our local wine-shops are not much good if you’re after something specific, I found). I also have to thank Emma and Andy for the time it must have taken them to do this, and for their excellent reviews and descriptions, always mentioning plenty of alternatives to try and relevant comparisons to other wines. I also really enjoyed Willhem’s well-written posts. It was nice to have a different perspective where sometimes we shared the same impressions, and sometimes it was like we were reviewing two different wines!

    Thanks again guys; I will be sending you an email with ideas for next year over the next day or so; I’m really glad you want to carry it on in some form. In fact, I was just looking at my copy of Jancis Robinson’s Wine Grapes (a complete guide to 1368 wine varieties) which at 52 wines a year should be good for another 26 or so years………….

    Jason 🙂

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