In this article, we will explore the black skinned Sangiovese grapes and how they are fermented to make some of the best quality wines in the Italian peninsula.
Grapes occupy a special place in winemaking. From Zinfandels and Syrah to Sangiovese grapes, these are the building blocks for any good wine.
Also, considering the fact that the world of winemaking is so immense, that every grape and fruit is unique and delicious in its own manner.
Wine makers list down hundreds of grape varieties that are used by enthusiasts and amateurs to make wine every day and store it for decades.
Wines, as old as the 1800’s have been found in old cellars and sold for thousands of dollars.
As a token of that sentence, it’s important for beginners and professionals of what actually comprises of wine making.
The variety of fruits used, how they are fermented and what conditions suit their growth; winemaking is thus a discipline of its own that requires a scientific mind-set and patience if one had to make good quality wine.
Sangiovese grapes – history and characteristics
Sangiovese grapes are an old grape variety. Earliest mention and usage of these grapes seem to be dating back to the Roman times when they were called Sanguis Jovis, latin for ‘blood of Jove’.
Sangiovese is thus the modern version of the Latin name, and still has the same meaning.
Many historians agree that Sangiovese grapes are thus an indigenous Italian variety and have always been in use in the Italian peninsula.
Pots and earns that once contained these grapes have been discovered in Tuscany, where the Etruscans once existed before being annexed during the early days of the Roman republic around early 250 BC.
As the republic spread to control almost the whole of the Italian peninsula, so did the Sangiovese grapes that spread across the breadth and length of it.
Characteristics of Sangiovese
Sangiovese grapes, just like every other grape variety has the following characteristics:
- Fresh, fruity flavour similar to strawberries.
- These are acidic.
- Does not contain a very pungent aroma similar to Cabernet and Pinot Noir.
Sangiovese wines, thus have their own unique characteristics. Because of the high acid content and light body, these grapes can be problematic for wine making.
The grape also lacks some colour compounds like acylated anthocyanin that gives colour to the wine.
However, there are techniques, like mixing with other grapes to give colour and texture to the grape and filling up some of the gaps of Sangiovese.
Other such techniques exist, like increasing the maceration period of 12 days to 4 weeks to better leach phenols out of the skin.
Barrel quality also matters since some winemakers transfer the wine to new oak barrels to give a slight change in flavour and allows polymerisation of the tannins.
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Sangiovese vineyards grow best in warm climates, although the grape has been found to be adaptable to a lot of soils.
The best is supposedly grown in areas that have high limestone content, like in the Chianti region.
Chianti has the shale-clay soil while regions like Montalcino have high limestone content.
Its adaptability is appreciated by the fact that these grapes grow even in areas that have high clay content, Sangiovese harvests provide equally good wines.
These grapes are slow in ripening and bud fairly quick. Most harvests in Italy start around October and continuing till the onset of winters.
Temperature is vital to growth and a balance is to be made. In areas with high temperatures, there arise the chances of juice dilution whereas in cold environments, the tannin gets rough and the contents become too acidic.
Farmers also need to take care of the yields for the weight of the vine produced.
The Taste of Sangiovese Wine is savoury, and offers a wide range of tastes from round and fruity to very earthy and rustic, with cherry flavours and subtle notes of tomato.
Older Sangiovese wines taste more like dried cherries, figs and roses.
The Tempranillo wines are usually classified either as full-bodied or medium-bodied wines with red fruit characteristics.
Tempranillo appears more translucent in a glass due to its thin skins and large grape size. Due to the aging style in a traditional oak, Tempranillo wines give a ruddy orange hue. As far as texture is concerned, this wine has a not so thick and a non-oily texture
Because of its medium weighted body and savoury character can Sangiovese be paired up with a wide range of foods.
Sangiovese goes well with herbs and tomatoes, that gives the wine a fruitier flavour.
For Sangiovese with high tannins, it will be great to hard cheeses, roasted meat or cured sausages.
Editor-in-Chief and Wine Writer
Michael is an online enthusiast, with a lot of knowledge about online marketing. Traveling around the world to hunt for the perfect wine. Latest on Sicily, where Etna has a huge impact on the taste, which is strong with a bitter aftertaste for the youngest wines, but older wines are fantastic. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one the passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂
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