The Sangiovese grape is Italy”s primary red wine grape. Originating in Tuscany, Sangiovese grapes are now grown in many regions of Italy and are the major ingredient in blended wines such as:

  • Chianti
  • Morellino di Scansano
  • Sangiovese Novello
  • Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Other Sangiovese wines from Tuscany are varietal (single variety) wines including:

  • Brunello di Montalcino
  • Rosso di Montalcino
  • Sangiovese di Romagna.

Sangiovese History

Sangiovese grapes originated in Tuscany and have been enjoyed for many centuries.

The first known literary reference to these grapes was in 1722. The name Sangiovese is of Latin origin and means “blood of Jove” (Jupiter). Chianti, one of the world”s most popular Sangiovese blends, was created in 1890 by Baron Ricasoli.

Modern science has expended what we know about Sangiovese history. New DNA research has traced the probable ancestors of the Sangiovese grape as Calabrese Montenuovo and Ciliegiolo.

Over time, at least 14 clones of Sangiovese have been produced. Brunello is the most highly regarded of these. There was once an attempt to classify all the clones as belonging to either the Sangiovese grosso or Sangiovese piccolo families, but not enough scientific evidence supported this distinction.

Growing Sangiovese Grapes

The hot, dry climate of Tuscany provides an excellent environment for growing Sangiovese grapes. These grapes mature slowly and take time to ripen. Any dampness would threaten the grapes because their thin skins leave them vulnerable to rot. If Sangiovese grapes are planted at higher elevations (over 1,500 feet) they will not mature properly.

Other Growing Areas

While native to Italy, a few other nations have started their own Sangiovese wineries. Australia began to produce Sangiovese wine in the 1960”s, and in 2006 created a desert style Sangiovese wine.

The United States has been producing Sangiovese wines since the late 1800s when Italian immigrants brought the grape to California.

Some popular producers of Sangiovese wine include:

  • Benessere Sangiovese Napa Valley
  • Lupiano Sangiovese Wines
  • Mosby Winery Sangiovese Vigna Della
  • Seghesio Family Vinyards Sangiovese.

What Makes Sangiovese Wines Unique

Sangiovese grapes produce fruity, medium body wines with a moderate to high natural acidity. They can range from elegant and firm to very robust and assertive. The finish is usually on the bitter side. Young Sangiovese wines are fruity and spicy, while the mature wines acquire an oak or tarry flavor.

Here are some of the unique flavors and aromas you can expect to find in a glass of Sangiovese wine:

  • fruits such as blueberry, orange peel, plum and strawberry
  • heavy oak with smoke, tar and toast
  • light oak with vanilla and sweetwood
  • spices including cinnamon, clove and thyme
  • violets.

Enjoying Sangiovese Wine with Food

Pairing a wine with the right foods can enhance your enjoyment of the entire meal. Red wines are traditionally paired with red meats as they would overwhelm the delicate taste of fish.

Here are some other dishes that go well with Sangiovese wines:

  • bruschetta
  • carpaccio
  • grilled zucchini
  • pasta in tomato based sauce
  • wild boar meat.