Sangiovese is to Tuscany what Shiraz is to the Barossa. It is one of those locally dominant grapes that seem to flourish in a certain geographical zone, and whether it is due to climate, latitude, soil or altitude, efforts to transplant the sangiovese grape to other countries have been quixotic endeavors at best.
Sangiovese is the most widely vinified grape in Italy (just about the only place that it is grown with distinction) and either as a varietal wine, or more commonly, part of a blend. It is the primary ingredient in Chianti and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, as well as the only grape allowed in Brunello di Montelcino and the dominant grape in most of the popular IGT Toscanas (Super Tuscans) for which Tuscany is increasingly famous.
Under the recently revised rules regulating the production of Chianti, Sangiovese must make up at least 80 percent (up to 100 percent) of the blend with no more than 15 percent being non-traditional grapes such as cabernet sauvignon or merlot, while canaiolo is traditionally used for blending. Quality wines not conforming to these rules are often called Super Tuscans or IGTs and have a deservedly good reputation. And while many could qualify as Chianti under the new regulations, most prefer to maintain the mystique associated with the bold moniker of Super Tuscan.
The word “sangiovese” translates as “blood of Jove” and one look will explain the analogy. It’s not the darkest of wines — petit syrah, merlot and zinfandel are darker — but it does have a sanguine resemblance.
It is not only earthy, but very fulfilling, with black and red fruit, round mouthfeel and a nice little cherry bite at the end, that seems to say “take just one more bite of that pizza, or one more taste of that lasagna!” And could it be from a more food-centric region than Tuscany? Tuscans celebrate food like we celebrate barbecue, with slow cooked pasta dishes, game and rich sauces.
We also love the fact that it's so reasonably priced! If you haven't tried the awesome value Sangiovese recently, it's time to! Particularly if you are going out for a simple Italian meal.