From its ruby-red colour to its lyrical pronunciation, Sangiovese [san-jo-veh-zeh] boasts all the hallmarks of a regal Italian contessa. The name of this grape – which has a flavour profile based on red and black fruits with hints of violet and vanilla – literally translates as 'blood of Jove', after the supreme god in Roman mythology.
It's claimed that thousands of years ago the ancient Etruscans living in Tuscany and Umbria favoured Sangiovese grapes to produce wine. However, while Sangiovese's exact origins are murky, one thing is crystal-clear: It remains the unparalleled ruler of western-central Italian wines.
Today, the grape remains as famous as ever, thanks to its use as the primary variety in bottles of Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and other in-demand Italian styles (some unclassified) known as 'Super Tuscans'.
Much like Pinot Noir, the Sangiovese grape has a chameleon-like quality – it adapts to, and perfectly reflects, the terroir in which it grows. Take the Chianti Classico subregion in central Tuscany, for example, where Sangiovese thrives on shale-clay soil and produces wine with aromas of violets, cherries and a touch of earthy spice.
In Tuscany's Brunello di Montalcino subregion the limestone-based soils result in an intensely dark and tannic style of Sangiovese wine, while the Sangiovese-based Montefalco Rosso blend from neighbouring Umbria is known for its delicate floral and strawberry aromas.
Sangiovese Today - Article by Wine Australia 2017.