Know Your Variety: Sangiovese
It’s Italy’s most widely planted red grape variety, but Sangiovese is also turning heads among Australian winemakers and wine-lovers.
The name Sangiovese comes from a Latin term meaning “the blood of Jove”, fuelling theories it has been around since Roman times.
Sangiovese is the famed grape of Tuscany and is responsible for some of the most revered and celebrated red wine in Italy. Wines such as Brunello de Montalcino, Vino Nobile de Montepulciano and the renowned Chianti wines (think the wicker-bound bottles that spend their afterlife as candle holders) are all made from Sangiovese.
Other than Tuscany, Sangiovese is widely planted in Lazio, Umbria, Marche and Corsica, where it is known as Nielluccio.
Sangiovese was not planted in Australia until the early 1970s. Penfold’s first trialled it in the Barossa, as did Montrose in Mudgee.
However, it was Mark Lloyd at Coriole in McLaren Vale who is known for kick-starting interest in the variety. He planted vines in 1985 after looking to plant something ‘not French.’
Sangiovese was one of Australia’s original alternative varieties. It has taken its time to shine, but with better clones selected and winemakers and growers more confident in handling the variety, we are seeing exciting examples produced across regions such as Barossa and McLaren Vale, as well as Victoria’s King Valley, Beechworth and Heathcote.
Did you know?
Sangiovese is much like Pinot Noir in that it reflects where it is grown exceptionally well. It can be found in styles that range from light and crunchy to dark, bold and tannic.
Quality Sangiovese is prized for its high acid, firm tannins and balance. Dark cherries and blackberry are characteristic, and may be backed by secondary notes of tomato leaf and dried herbs.
Sangiovese comes into its own when matched with food. Its tangy acidity goes well with tomato based dishes and its savoury nature suits barbequed and grilled meats.
Check out our extensive list of Know Your Variety guides here.