The Italian Work Horse: Sangiovese

wine bottle in wicker carrier

If Italian grapes were to enter a popularity contest, Sangiovese would definitely be the ringer. We continue our exploration of Italy with it’s most widely planted red grape variety, Sangiovese.

It is the main grape used in the most popular wine’s of Tuscany, including Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, along with Super Tuscans not to mention it is the solitary grape found in Brunello di Montalcino. Representing over 10% of all Italy’s plantings it truly is the work horse of central Italy, primarily Tuscany.

Young Sangiovese has fresh fruity flavors of strawberry and a little spiciness, but it readily takes on oaky, even tarry, flavors when aged in barrels.While not as aromatic as other red wine varieties such as Pinot noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, Sangiovese often has a flavor profile of sour red cherries with earthy aromas and tea leaf notes.  Medium-plus tannins and high acidity are characteristic of this varietal.

While still most popular in Italy, Sangiovese can be found in other growing regions, primarily California (where it became increasingly popular during the Super Tuscan boom of the 1980’s) and Argentina,  it also making appearances in Australia and New Zealand. Each region produces it’s own distinct style and flavors.

stockvault-wine126568Styles and Flavor Profiles:

Tuscan Sangiovese: bitter sweet component cherry, violet tea, tomato savoriness (herbal quality), strawberry

Californian Sangiovese: bright red fruit flavors with Zinfandel like spice and darker fruit notes

Argentinian Sangiovese: A hybrid of the Tuscan and California styles

Food Pairings:

Sangiovese is a very food friendly wine due to its high acidity and moderate alcohol content. Try it with tomato based pasta dishes, pizza, meatloaf, roast chicken, grilled or smoked foods.


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