What is Sangiovese?

Sangiovese grosso as well as Prugnolo gentile are selected clones of the Sangiovese grapes. Widely used in Tuscany to produce Brunello di Montalcino.

By Elaina Borer
Mar 29, 2020

Sangiovese Grapes "Saint-giovese" grape, more devil than saint? According to an ancient proverb, Sangiovese was the patron saint of the region of Romagna. The literal translation of Sangiovese being "Blood of Jupiter" (Jupiter being the King of the Gods). The Sangiovese grape dominates central Italy but only aspires to greatness in Tuscany, most notably in Chianti wine (minimum 75% sangiovese grape) Brunello di Montalcino (100% sangiovese grosso grape) and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (minimum 70% Prugnolo gentile grape).

 

SANGIOVESE A SELECTED CLONE WITH AN UNPREDICTABLE CHARACTER

Sangiovese grosso as well as Prugnole gentile are selected clones of the Sangiovese grapes. At its best in these wines, it is a medium to full, firm, dry, slightly spicy red that ages well. At its most ordinary, it is light and astringent. Nevertheless, Italian people don't give much importance to the astringency of their typical grape, as they always match wine and food, almost making this sensation disappear.

For example, unlike the Cabernet grape, which is consistent in its results, Sangiovese is a lot less predictable. It is very dependent on terrain, with the end result varying from one area to the next. The criticism that is often targeted at this Tuscan grape is that it has a hard time ripening, which means that even vineyards that have perfect exposure give inconsistent results.

As a result of the problems it has ripening, it could often happen that bad weather in September destroy part of the grapes just before the harvest. However, when this sensitive grape is cared for correctly it can produce wonderful wines.

 

WINE-MAKERS ARE THE KEY TO MAKING GOOD SANGIOVESE WINE

To ensure the maximum is gained from sangiovese, the informed wine-maker will consider the following factors when planting. Maximum exposure to the sun is essential, as is the composition of the soil. There is a saying "Make the soil poor to make me rich" and this is used particularly when planting Sangiovese Grosso (which produces Brunello).

It means that to get the absolute best from the grape, it needs to be planted on soil that almost has the consistency of clay, this means that the quantity of grapes produced is greatly reduced and the intense effect that this has on the grapes results in the highest quality. In comparison to the world famous grape of Cabernet and Merlot, Sangiovese doesn't seem to give interesting result where planted in different countries, which are not central Italy. I heard winemakers saying: "San Giovese", more Saint or Devil?

However, the only way for you to be able to make an informed decision yourself is to taste lots and lots of sangiovese -based wines. How hard can it be??



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