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Italian wine and grape guide : Sangiovese

Sangiovese

Sangiovese is a red grape variety with ancient and uncertain origins, with the origin of the name even more uncertain. Sangiovese is a grape that changes significantly its characteristics depending on the climate and altitude at which it is planted and it is Italy's most planted grape variety, found everywhere from north to south, but mainly in Tuscany where it is used in no less than 25 different appellations, whether in its own or part of a blend, and Emilia Romagna.

Sangiovese has several clones or varieties, the Sangiovese grosso (big) traditionally used for powerful and slow maturing red wines such as the Brunello di Montalcino, Prugnolo Gentile used for the Nobile di Montepulciano belongs to the same family. The other main clones are the Sangiovese Piccolo (small), used for Chianti and the third variety, called Morellino, is used in a blend of the same name, Morellino di Scanzano, made in the southern part of Tuscany.

Tuscan grown Sangiovese’s flavours vary from dark fruit to, spice, tobacco, leather and characteristics of its wines are marked tannins and high acidity, making it a perfect grape for ageing.

Sangiovese grape is also widely grown in the nearby Umbria where it is used in many wines and appellations including the Montefalco Rosso, and it has started to appear outside Italy, from California to Argentina to Australia, with mixed results so far.