Ah, the blood of Jove. Would that every grape had such a romantic history.
Sangiovese, of course, is the main grape in the Chianti that we have been talking about of late. First documented in the 1500′s in Italy, its origins are presumed to be much older. Prone to rot, sometimes tough to ripen, and usually blended with other grapes, it’s still a star of Italian winemaking in spite of beng difficult at times. Both Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino have mastered beautiful expressions of this grape, and it’s also used for making the desssert wine Vin Santo. In the New World it has enjoyed popularity in California and Argentina. BC’s own Sandhill winery did a small lots experiment with it that has been fantastic in the past few years.
1) High acidity and light weight… thus the need to blend with other grapes to give it a bit more structure.
2) Lower tannins, especially if picked before it’s fully ripe (which can be mid-October in Tuscany)
3) Sour cherry, plum and even blackberry notes if fully ripe
4) Spice and mocha
5) Vanilla or butterscotch if oaked, as it acts like a sponge when wood aged
6) And with Chiantis and Brunellos, nearly always that sharp bitter finish to nip you at the end. Yum.