What is Sangiovese Wine?
Sangiovese is an Italian red wine grape varietal. As Italy’s most popular grape, it is most well known as the primary varietal used in Chianti. Owing to Sangiovese’s ability to take on characteristics of region, climate and those imparted by the winemaker, wines made from this grape vary widely in taste.
CSIRO experimented with the Sangiovese varietal in Australia in the 1960s. Since then there has been an ongoing search for most suitable climates and regions to get the best out of the grape. South Australia and Western Australia have shown some of the most promising results. This success has come at time when the international reputation of Sangiovese has improved in New World markets along with the recognition of Italian Sangiovese styles like Chianti and Brunello.
Common Sangiovese Wine characteristics
Sangiovese wines don’t have the aromatic impact of Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz but notes of plum and cherry along with the presence of some herbs should be expected. On the palate, the tannic structure is firm with even more plum, cherry and sour cherry.
Pairing food with Sangiovese Wine
Sangiovese follows the ‘red with red’ rule quite happily. Sangiovese blends, particularly Chianti wine pairs perfectly with tomato-based dishes like ragu or osso buco. The acidity in both Sangiovese and the tomato-based food neutralise one another to create a wonderful marriage of flavours.
Notable Sangiovese Wine regions
Sanigovese is the most famous grape varietal in Italy. It is grown throughout the country and accounts for around 10% of grapes planted in Italian vineyards.
Chianti is by far the best-known style of Italian wine in the world. Chianti is a controlled wine designation that requires at least 75% Sangiovese grapes. Though not exclusively produced in the region of Tuscany in Italy, it is the region that is most associated with Chianti. Tuscany is also known for the one of the Italy’s most sought after and expensive wines, Brunello di Montalcino which is made of 100% Sangiovese.
In Australia, South Australia and Western Australia have had success with plantings but the benchmark wines comes from the Pizzini vineyard in the Victorian Highlands. The Australian Sangiovese pioneers at Coriole Vineyards in McLaren Vale began planting in 1985 and they produce some of the finest examples. Vasarelli, Maria’s Table, Stefano De Pieri and Lark Hill also produce excellent Sangiovese wines.
The future of Sangiovese Wine
Chianti has undergone somewhat of a reputation rehabilitation. The hard work in this area, as well as the success of Sangiovese plantings in Australia, has lead to a greater appreciation of the grape. The high-end offerings of straight Sangiovese from wineries such as Pizzini have raised the bar for winemaking for this particular varietal, earning the trust of the wine-loving public along the way and growing the market.