Sangiovese is the primary
grape used in Northern Italy in the region of Tuscany
to make Chianti and also for Brunello di Montalcino. Sangiovese
produces wines that are spicy, with good acid levels,
smooth texture and medium body. In the right climates
like the Maipo Valley in Chile and with controlled yields,
Sangiovese can be made into very structured and full bodied
wines. For best results, it is usually blended with other
grapes and in northern Italy is blended with Cabernet
Sauvignon to make the 'Super Tuscan' blends.
Jovis, the Latin origin for the varietal name, literally
means "blood of Jove" and it is likely that
Sangiovese (a.k.a. Sangioveto or San Gioveto) was known
by Etruscan winemakers, although the first literary
reference to it was in 1722. It is probably indigenous
to Tuscany, whose most famous wine is Chianti. Sangiovese,
is strongly influenced by Terroir, with much variation
from one area to the next.
The basic blend of Chianti was
established by Baron Ricasoli in the 1890s. This averages
70% Sangiovese as the varietal base (along with 15%
Canaiolo [red], and 15% Trebbiano [white] and sometimes
a little Colorino [red]). Many vineyards are traditionally
planted with this varietal mix. Currently, the minimum
amount of Sangiovese permitted in Chianti is 90%. In
some ways Sangiovese is to Chianti as Cabernet Sauvignon
is to Bordeaux. The flavor profile of Sangiovese is
fruity, with moderate to high natural acidity and generally
a medium-body ranging from firm and elegant to assertive
and robust and a finish that can tend towards bitterness.
The aroma is generally not as assertive and easily identifiable
as Cabernet Sauvignon, for example, but can have a strawberry,
blueberry, faintly floral, violet or plumy character.