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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.

Sanguis 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.


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