CAPANNA VINO DE BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO (TOSCANA - ITALIA)
The Capanna farming concern, property of the Cencioni family ever since 1957, lies to the north of Montalcino in the area of Montosoli. Held to be one of the best Brunello "crus", it is still run today on an exclusively family basis, with advice from the enologist PaoloVagaggini. The vineyards, which cover about 20 hectares, have been planted in the best areas of the farm, and are cared for with the passion and experience of generations of vine dressers. Harvesting, done entirely by hand, is done so as to choose the grape bunches which are best suited for each kind of wine. Brunello di Montalcino comes from this selection, followed by ageing for four years in Slavonian oak casks. These become five years for the Brunello chosen to become Riserva (Reserve). Due to its long ageing and the care and attention afforded to its production, Brunello di Montalcino is now considered to be one of the most precious and exclusive wines, to be matched with game, roast meat and seasoned cheese, but it is also an excellent meditation wine.
- Name: Azienda Agricola Capanna - Prop. Cencioni
- Cantina: Azienda Agricola Capanna di Cencioni Benito e figli
- D.O.: Brunello di Montalcino (Toscana - Italia)
- Adress: Loc. Capanna, 333 - 53024 Montalcino (Siena) - Italia
- Tel +39 0577 848298 - Fax +39 0577 1652927
- Web: www.capannamontalcino.com
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO
Brunello di Montalcino is a red Italian wine produced in the vineyards surrounding the town of Montalcino located about 80 km south of Florence in the Tuscany wine region. Brunello, a diminutive of bruno, which means brown, is the name that was given locally to what was believed to be an individual grape variety grown in Montalcino. In 1879 the Province of Siena's Amphelographic Commission determined, after a few years of controlled experiments, that Sangiovese and Brunello were the same grape variety, and that the former should be its designated name. In Montalcino the name Brunello evolved into the designation of the wine produced with 100% Sangiovese.
In 1980, Brunello di Montalcino was awarded the first Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) designation and today is one of Italy's best-known and most expensive wines.
- History: One of the first records of "Brunello" was a red wine that was made in the Montalcino area in the early 14th century. In 1831, marchese Cosimo Ridolfi (who was later appointed Prime Minister of Tuscany by the Grand Duke Leopold II) praised the merits of the red wines of Montalcino above all others in Tuscany. In 1865, an agricultural fair in Montalcino noted that the prize winning wine of the event was a "select red wine" known as a Brunello. In the mid-19th century, a local farmer named Clemente Santi isolated certain plantings of Sangiovese vines in order to produce a 100% varietal wine that could be aged for a considerable period of time. In 1888, his grandson Ferruccio Biondi-Santi (a veteran soldier who fought under Giuseppe Garibaldi during the Risorgimento) released the first "modern version" of Brunello di Montalcino that was aged for over a decade in large wood barrels.
By the end of World War II, Brunello di Montalcino had developed a reputation as one of Italy's rarest wines. The only commercial producer recorded in government documents was the Biondi-Santi firm, which had declared only four vintages up to that point 1888, 1891, 1925, and 1945. The high price and prestige of these wines soon encouraged other producers to emulate Biondi-Santi's success. By the 1960s there were 11 producers making Brunello, and in 1968 the region was granted Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) status. By 1970 the number of producers had more than doubled to 25, and by 1980 there were 53 producers. In 1980, the Montalcino region was the first Italian wine region to be awarded Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) designation. By the turn of the 21st century, there were nearly 200 producers of Brunello di Montalcino, mostly small farmers and family estates, producing nearly 330,000 cases a year.
In 2008, Italian authorities confiscated four producers' 2003 Brunello on charges that the producers had committed fraud by including foreign varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the wine that they then fraudulently labeled as Brunello di Montalcino, which by law may only contain Sangiovese grapes. Laboratory tests later confirmed that the confiscated wines were in fact Brunello except for a small portion that remained inconclusive.
- Climate and geography: Montalcino has one of the warmest and driest climates in Tuscany with the grapes in the area ripening up to a week earlier than in nearby Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Chianti Classico. It is the most arid Tuscan DOCG, receiving an average annual rainfall of around 700 mm, in contrast to the Chianti region which receives an average of 900 mm. As with all of the Northern Hemisphere, the northern slopes receive fewer hours of sunlight and are generally cooler than the southern slopes. Vineyards planted on the northern slopes ripen more slowly and tend to produce wines that are racier and more aromatic. Vineyards on the southern and western slopes receive more intense exposure to sunlight and more maritime winds which produces wines with more power and complexity. The top producers in the area have vineyards on both slopes, and make use of a blend of both styles.
The town of Montalcino is a small medieval village located about 564 metres (1,850 ft) above sea level in the province of Siena. The wine district is centered to the northeast of the village in densely wooden and hilly terrain. Monte Amiata, the highest peak in Southern Tuscany, provides a sheltering influence from the southeast and tempers the region's climate and rainfall. Compared to the nearly 41,000 acres (17,000 ha) of planted land in Chianti, Montalcino is a relatively small wine region with around 3,000 acres (1,200 ha) planted. Vineyards in Montalcino are planted in varied soils (including limestone, clay, schist, volcanic soil and a crumbly marl known as galestro) at altitudes ranging from 149 m to 500 m. This diversity in terroir contributes to the vast range in quality and potential complexity of Brunello di Montalcino.
According to Kerin O’Keefe "although sangiovese excels in select parts of Montalcino, it does not perform as well throughout the whole denomination thanks to the dramatic differences within the large growing area". O'Keefe is in favor of putting subzones on the labels as this would greatly help consumers understand the stark differences among Brunellos from Montalcino's greatly varied territory, proposing 8 subzones: Montalcino North, Montalcino South, Castelnuovo dell'Abate, Camigliano, Tavernelle, Bosco, Torrenieri, Sant'Angelo.
- Winemaking and regulations: Brunello di Montalcino is made 100% from Sangiovese. Traditionally, the wine goes through an extended maceration period where color and flavor are extracted from the skins. Following fermentation the wine is then aged in oak. Traditionally, the wines are aged 3 years or more "in botte" arge Slavonian oak casks that impart little oak flavor and generally produce more austere wines. Some winemakers will use small French barrique which impart a more pronounced vanilla oak flavor. There is a middle ground where the wine is aged in small barrique for a short time and then spends a longer sojourn in the traditional botte.
Most producers will separate their production between a normale and riserva bottling. The normale bottles are released on the market 50 months after harvest and the riserva are released a year afterward. The current aging requirements were established in 1998 and dictate that Brunellos are to be aged in oak for 2 years and at least 4 months in a bottle before release. Winemakers who intentionally stray from these rules and regulations can possibly receive a conviction of commercial fraud accompanied by an imprisonment sentence of up to six years.
- Brunellopoli: In 2008, reports surfaced that Italian authorities were investigating claims that several major Brunello producers were adulterating their wines by using foreign or domestic grape varieties in violation of the DOCG regulations, which stipulate that only Sangiovese may be used to make Brunello. The prosecutor handling the investigation said he would bring commercial fraud charges that could result in imprisonment for the violators. The producers in question were suspected of adding wine made from non-approved grapes in order to make it more appealing to the international market. In response the U.S. government blocked imports of Brunello that did not have proof that they were in fact 100% Sangiovese. The scandal was coined Brunellopoli by the Italian wine press.
- Grapes and wines: The Sangiovese grape is the most widely planted grape in the Montalcino region and is the only permitted grape in the Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. The particular clones of Sangiovese are unique to the Montalcino region and have developed in adaption to that area's specific terroir. The altitude and climate of the Montalcino region has provided an area where Sangiovese ripens more fully and consistently than anywhere else in Tuscany. These factors contribute to the body, color, extract and tannins commonly associated with Brunello di Montalcino. In contrast to Chianti, the other famous Sangiovese based wine of Tuscany, Brunello di Montalcinos have a more fleshy texture with common aromas and flavors of blackberry, black cherry, black raspberry, chocolate, leather and violets.
Brunello is often compared with the Pinot noir wines of Burgundy with its smooth tannins and ripe, fruit driven character. The high acidity of the wine allows it to pair well with food, especially grilled meat and game. A large portion of Brunello sold in the United States is purchased in restaurants. The wine has become particularly popular in America with nearly 1 out of every 3 bottles of Brunello di Montalcino being sold in the US. Brunello di Montalcino are known for their ability to age with well made examples from exceptional vintages often showcasing development for several decades. Master of Wine Mary Ewing-Mulligan notes that most Brunellos often need at least 10 years before they shed their youthfulness and start to harmonize their flavors.
- Other wines: In addition to Brunello di Montalcino, producers in the Montalcino region can produce wine under Rosso di Montalcino, Sant'Antimo and Moscadello di Montalcino DOCs as well as the generic Indicazione geografica tipica designation of Toscana IGT. Moscadello di Montalcino is a sweet white wine made from Muscat. The style was once widely produced in Montalcino but fell out of style following World War II. In the early 1980s, the wine estate of Castello Banfi attempted to revive the style by planting Muscat. The Sant'Antimo DOC was named for the 9th century abbey built by Charlemagne. In the 1970s, producers in Montalcino were influenced by the success of the "Super Tuscan" style of wine that was gaining international recognition for Chianti producers who deviated from DOC regulations with winemaking techniques such blending Cabernet Sauvignon with Sangiovese. In 1996, Italian authorities approved the Sant'Antimo DOC to allow Montalcino producers to produce DOC designated wines that were not 100% Sangiovese. These wines include blended Bianco and Rosso wines as well as varietally labeled Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot grigio, Pinot nero and Sauvignon blanc.
- Rosso di Montalcino: The Rosso di Montalcino DOC was established in 1984 as a means of giving Brunello di Montalcino producers the flexibility to continue the tradition of long aging of the region's flagship wine. Rosso di Montalcino is made from 100% Sangiovese grown in the same delineated region as Brunello di Montalcino. However, the wine is required to spend only six months aging in oak and 1 year total aging before release. This allows Brunello producers to make an earlier releasing wine that can generate cash flow while their Brunello di Montalcino age for their complete duration. In less than ideal vintages some producers will relegate all their grapes to Rosso di Montalcino production and not make a Brunello. Wineries can also declassify their Brunello that has already been aging 2–3 years and release it as Rosso di Montalcino if the wine is not developing to their expectations. Rosso di Montalcino is typically lighter, fresher and more approachable upon release though some producers will make wines with more Brunello like characteristics. These "Baby Brunellos" are often 1/3 to 1/2 the price of Brunello di Montalcino.
SANGIOVESE GRAPE VARIETY
Sangiovese (/ˌsændʒioʊˈveɪzi, -dʒiə-, -dʒoʊ-, -ˈveɪzeɪ, ˈviːz, -ˈviːs/; Italian: [sandʒoˈveːze]) is a red Italian wine grape variety that derives its name from the Latin sanguis Jovis, "the blood of Jove". Though it is the grape of most of central Italy from Romagna down to Lazio, Campania and Sicily, outside Italy it is most famous as the only component of Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino and the main component of the blend Chianti, Carmignano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Morellino di Scansano, although it can also be used to make varietal wines such as Sangiovese di Romagna and the modern "Super Tuscan" wines like Tignanello.
Sangiovese was already well known by the 16th century. Recent DNA profiling by José Vouillamoz of the Istituto Agrario di San Michele all’Adige suggests that Sangiovese's ancestors are Ciliegiolo and Calabrese Montenuovo. The former is well known as an ancient variety in Tuscany, the latter is an almost-extinct relic from the Calabria, the toe of Italy. At least fourteen Sangiovese clones exist, of which Brunello is one of the best regarded. An attempt to classify the clones into Sangiovese grosso (including Brunello) and Sangiovese piccolo families has gained little evidential support.
Young Sangiovese has fresh fruity flavours of strawberry and a little spiciness, but it readily takes on oaky, even tarry, flavours when aged in barrels. While not as aromatic as other red wine varieties such as Pinot noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, Sangiovese often has a flavour profile of sour red cherries with earthy aromas and tea leaf notes. Wines made from Sangiovese usually have medium-plus tannins and high acidity.
- History: Early theories on the origin of Sangiovese dated the grape to the time of Roman winemaking. It was even postulated that the grape was first cultivated in Tuscany by the Etruscans from wild Vitis vinifera vines. The literal translation of the grape's name, the "blood of Jove", refers to the Roman god Jupiter. According to legend, the name was coined by monks from the commune of Santarcangelo di Romagna in what is now the province of Rimini in the Emilia-Romagna region of east-central Italy.
The first documented mention of Sangiovese was in the 1590 writings of Giovanvettorio Soderini (also known under the pen name of Ciriegiulo). Identifying the grape as "Sangiogheto" Soderini notes that in Tuscany the grape makes very good wine but if the winemaker is not careful, it risks turning into vinegar. While there is no conclusive proof that Sangiogheto is Sangiovese, most wine historians generally consider this to be the first historical mention of the grape. Regardless, it would not be until the 18th century that Sangiovese would gain widespread attention throughout Tuscany, being with Malvasia and Trebbiano the most widely planted grapes in the region.
In 1738, Cosimo Trinci described wines made from Sangiovese as excellent when blended with other varieties but hard and acidic when made as a wine by itself. In 1883, the Italian writer Giovanni Cosimo Villifranchi echoed a similar description about the quality of Sangiovese being dependent on the grapes with which it was blended. The winemaker and politician, Bettino Ricasoli formulated one of the early recipes for Chianti when he blended his Sangiovese with a sizable amount of Canaiolo. In the wines of Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Sangiovese would experience a period of popularity in the late 19th and early 20th century. In the 1970s, Tuscan winemakers began a period of innovation by introducing modern oak treatments and blending the grape with non-Italian varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon in the creation of wines that were given the collective marketing sobriquet "Super Tuscans".
- Parentage: In 2004, DNA profiling done by researchers at San Michele All'Adige revealed the grape to be the product of a crossing between Ciliegiolo and Calabrese Montenuovo. While Ciliegiolo has a long history tied to the Tuscan region, Calabrese Montenuovo (which is not related to the grape commonly known as Calabrese, or Nero d'Avola) has its origins in southern Italy, where it probably originated in the Calabria region before moving its way up to Campania. This essentially means that the genetic heritage of Sangiovese is half Tuscan and half southern Italian.
Where the crossing between Ciliegiolo and Calabrese Montenuovo occurred is not known with some believing the cross happened in Tuscany while other ampelographers suggesting it may have happened in southern Italy. Evidence for this later theory is the proliferation of seedless mutations of Sangiovese, known under various synonyms, throughout various regions of southern Italy including Campania, Corinto nero which is grown on the island of Lipari just north of Sicily and Tuccanese from the Puglia region in the heel of the Italian boot. In Campania, among the many seedless mutations of Sangiovese still growing in the region are Nerello from the commune of Savelli, Nerello Campotu from the commune of Motta San Giovanni, Puttanella from Mandatoriccio and Vigna del Conte.
- Relationship with Ciliegiolo: While the parentage of Ciliegiolo and Calabrese Montenuovo for Sangiovese was established based on 50 genetic markers and is generally accepted by ampelographers, some wine texts publish contradictory information that Ciliegiolo is an offspring (rather than parent) of Sangiovese. This belief is based on a 2007 study of 38 genetic markers stating that suggested that Ciliegiolo was the product of Sangiovese crossing with an obscure Portuguese wine grape, Muscat Rouge de Madère, that was once grown on the island of Madeira as well as the Douro and Lisboa wine regions of Portugal. In addition to support of fewer genetic markers, this alternative theory is disputed by geneticists such as José Vouillamoz and Masters of Wine like Jancis Robinson because Muscat Rouge de Madère has no history of ever being cultivated in Italy (where it could have crossed with Sangiovese). Furthermore, while many grapes with lineage involving members of the Muscat family of grapes tend to have pronounced "grapey" flavours characteristic of Muscat grapes, Ciliegiolo exhibits none of those flavour profiles which makes it unlikely to be an offspring of Muscat Rouge de Madère.
- Clones and offspring: Early ampelographical research into Sangiovese begun in 1906 with the work of Girolamo Molon. Molon discovered that the Italian grape known as "Sangiovese" was actually several "varieties" of clones which he broadly classified as Sangiovese Grosso and Sangiovese Piccolo. The Sangiovese Grosso family included the clones growing in the Brunello region as well as the clones known as Prugnolo Gentile and Sangiovese di Lamole that was grown in the Greve in Chianti region. The Sangiovese Grosso, according to Molon, produced the highest quality wine, while the varieties in the Sangiovese Piccolo family, which included the majority of clones, produced wine of a lesser degree of quality. In the late 20th century, research by the Italian government and Chianti Classico Consorizo discovered that some of the best producing clones, from a wine quality perspective, came from the Emilia-Romagna region where they are today being propagated under the names R24 and T19.
Another Italian study published in 2008 using DNA typing showed a close genetic relationship between Sangiovese on the one hand and ten other Italian grape varieties on the other hand: Foglia Tonda, Frappato, Gaglioppo, Mantonicone, Morellino del Casentino, Morellino del Valdarno, Nerello Mascalese, Tuccanese di Turi, Susumaniello, and Vernaccia Nera del Valdarno. It is possible, and even likely, that Sangiovese is one of the parents of each of these grape varieties. Since these grape varieties are spread over different parts of Italy (Apulia, Calabria, Sicily and Tuscany), this confirmed by genetic methods that Sangiovese is a key variety in the pedigree of red Italian grape varieties.
DNA analysis in 2001 also suggests a strong genetic relationship between Sangiovese and the Puglia wine region Aleatico though the exact nature of this relationship has yet to be determined.
- Viticulture: Sangiovese has shown itself to be adaptable to many different types of vineyard soils but seems to thrive in soils with a high concentration of limestone, having the potential to produce elegant wines with forceful aromas. In the Chianti Classico region, Sangiovese thrives on the highly friable shale-clay soil known as galestro. In the Montalcino region, where there is a high proportion of limestone-based alberese soils alternating with deposits of galestro. The lesser zones of the generic Chianti appellation are predominantly clay, which often produce as high quality of wine as alberese and galestro do.
The grape requires a long growing season, as it buds early and is slow to ripen. The grape requires sufficient warmth to ripen fully, but too much warmth and its flavours can become diluted. Harvests in Italy have traditionally begun after September 29, with modern harvest often taking place in mid-late October. A longer growing season gives the grapes time to develop richness and potential body. However, in cool vintages this can result in the grapes having high levels of acidity and harsh, unripened tannins. In regions (like some areas of Tuscany) that are prone to rainfall in October, there is a risk for rot due to the Sangiovese grape's thin skin. In other areas, such as the dry conditions of the Columbia Valley AVA of Washington State, the grape has good resistance to drought conditions and often requires little irrigation.
For the best quality, yields need to be kept in check as the vine is notably vigorous and prone to overproduction. In Chianti, most quality conscious producers limit their yields to 3 pounds (1.5 kg) of fruit per vine. Wine made from high-yielding vines tend to produce wines with light color, high acidity, and less alcohol, which are likely to oxidize ("brown") prematurely due to a lower concentration of tannins and anthocyanins (anti-oxidants). Fully developed grapes are typically 19 mm long x 17 mm wide, with an average weight of 3 grams.
Soils with low fertility are ideal and help control some of the vigor of the vine. Planting vines in high densities in order to curb vigor may have the adverse effect of increasing foliage and limiting the amount of direct sunlight that can reach the ripening grapes. Advances in understanding the quality and characteristics of the different clones of Sangiovese has led to the identification and propagation of superior clones. While high-yielding clones have been favored in the past, more attention is being paid to matching the clone to the vineyard site and controlling the vine's vigor.
- Winemaking: The high acidity and light body characteristics of the Sangiovese grape can present a problem for winemaking. The grape also lacks some of the color-creating phenolic compounds known as acylated anthocyanins. Modern winemakers have devised many techniques trying to find ways to add body and texture to Sangiovese (ranging from using grapes that come from extremely low yielding vines, to adjusting the temperature and length of fermentation and employing extensive oak treatment. One historical technique is the blending of other grape varieties with Sangiovese, in order to complement its attractive qualities and fill in the gaps of some of its weaker points. The Sangiovese-based wines of Chianti have a long tradition of liberally employed blending partners) such as Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo, Mammolo, Colorino and even the white wine grapes like Trebbiano and Malvasia. Since the late 20th century, Bordeaux grapes, most notably Cabernet Sauvignon, have been a favored blending partner though in many Italian DOC/G there is often a restriction on the amount of other varietals that can be blended with Sangiovese: at Chianti the limit for Cabernet is 15%.
Other techniques used to improve the quality of Sangiovese include extending the maceration period from 7–12 days to 3–4 weeks to give the must more time to leach vital phenols out of the grape skins. Transferring the wine during fermentation into new oak barrels for malolactic fermentation gives greater polymerization of the tannins and contributes to a softer, rounder mouthfeel. Additionally, Sangiovese has shown itself to be a "sponge" for soaking up sweet vanilla and other oak compounds from the barrel. For aging the wine, some modern producers will utilize new French oak barrels but there is a tradition of using large, used oak botti barrels that hold five to six hectoliters of wine. Some traditional producers still use the old chestnut barrels in their cellars.
- Italy: In Italy, Sangiovese is the most widely planted red grape variety. It is an officially recommended variety in 53 provinces and an authorized planting in an additional 13. It accounts for approximately 10% of all vineyard plantings in Italy with more than 100,000 hectares (250,000 ac) planted to one of the many clonal variation of the grape. Throughout Italy it is known under a variety of names including Brunello, Morellino, Nielluccio and Prugnolo Gentile. It is the main grape used in the popular red wines of Tuscany, where it is the solitary grape of Brunello di Montalcino and the primary component of the wines of Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and many "Super Tuscans". Outside of Tuscany, it is found throughout central Italy where it places an important role in the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) wines of Montefalco Sagrantino secco and Torgiano Rosso Riserva in Umbria, Conero in Marche and the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) wines of Lazio and Rosso Piceno in Marche. Significant Sangiovese plantings can also be found outside of central Italy in Lombardia, Emilia-Romagna, Valpolicella and as far south as Campania and Sicily.
The intense fruit and deep color of Cabernet was shown to be well suited for blending with Sangiovese but banned in many Italian DOCs. In the 1970s, the rise of "Super Tuscans"-wines that eschew DOC regulation in favor of the lower classification of vino da tavola-increased the demand for more flexibility in the DOC laws. While the first DOC to be permitted to blend Cabernet Sauvignon with Sangiovese was approved for Carmignano in 1975, most of Tuscany's premier wine regions were not permitted to blend Cabernet Sauvignon with Sangiovese till the late 20th century.
- Tuscany: From the early to mid-20th century, the quality of Chianti was in low regard. DOC regulation that stipulate the relatively bland Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes needed to account for at least 10% of the finished blend, with consequent higher acidity and diluted flavours. Some wineries trucked in full bodied and jammy red wines from Sicily and Puglia to add color and alcohol to the blend—an illegal practice that did little to improve the quality of Chianti. From the 1970s through the 1980s, a revolution of sorts spread through Tuscany as the quality of the Sangiovese grape was rediscovered. Winemakers became more ambitious and willing to step outside DOC regulations to make 100% varietal Sangiovese or a "Super Tuscan" blend with Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet and Merlot.
Today there is a broad range of style of Chianti reflecting the Sangiovese influence and winemaker's touch. Traditional Sangiovese emphasize herbal and bitter cherry notes, while more modern, Bordeaux-influenced wines have more plum and mulberry fruit with vanilla oak and spice. Stylistic and terroir based differences also emerge among the various sub-zones of the Chianti region. The ideal vineyard locations are found on south and southwest-facing slopes at altitudes between 490–1800 ft (150–550 m). In general, Sangiovese has a more difficult time fully ripening in the Chianti region than it does in the Montalcino and Maremma regions to the south. This is due to cooler nighttime temperatures and high propensity for rainfall in September and October that can affect harvest time.
In the mid-19th century, a local farmer named Clemente Santi isolated certain plantings of Sangiovese vines in order to produce a 100% varietal wine that could be aged for a considerable period of time. In 1888, his grandson Ferruccio Biondi-Santi-a veteran soldier who fought under Giuseppe Garibaldi during the Risorgimento-released the first "modern version" of Brunello di Montalcino, which was aged for over a decade in large wood barrels. By the mid-20th century, this 100% varietal Sangiovese was eagerly being sought out by critics and wine drinkers alike. The Montalcino region seems to have ideal conditions for ripening Sangiovese with the potential for full ripeness achievable even on north-facing slopes. These slopes tend to produce lighter and more elegant wines that then those made from vineyards on south and southwest facing slopes.
In the late 20th and early 21st century, the Maremma region located in the southwest corner of Tuscany has seen vast expansion and a surge of investment from outside the region. The area is reliably warm with a shorter growing season. Sangiovese grown in the Maremma is capable of developing broad character but does have the potential of developing too much alcohol and not enough aroma compounds.
- Wines: Wines made from Sangiovese tend to exhibit the grape's naturally high acidity as well as moderate to high tannin content and light color. Blending can have a pronounced effect on enhancing or tempering the wine's quality. The dominant nature of Cabernet can sometimes have a disproportionate influence on the wine, even overwhelming Sangiovese character with black cherry, black currant, mulberry and plum fruit. Even percentages as low as 4 to 5% of Cabernet Sauvignon can overwhelm the Sangiovese if the fruit quality is not high. As the wine ages, some of these Cabernet dominant flavours can soften and reveal more Sangiovese character.
Different regions will impart varietal character on the wine with Tuscan Sangiovese having a distinctive bitter-sweet component of cherry, violets and tea. In their youth, Tuscan Sangiovese can have tomato-savoriness to it that enhances its herbal component. Californian examples tend to have more bright, red fruit flavours with some Zinfandel-like spice or darker fruits depending on the proportion of Cabernet blended in. Argentine examples showing a hybrid between the Tuscan and California Sangiovese with juicy red fruit wines that end on a bitter cherry note.
Sangiovese based wines have the potential to age but the vast majority of Sangiovese wines are intended to be consumed relatively early in their lives. The wines with the longest aging potential are the Super Tuscans and Brunello di Montalcino wines that can age for upwards of 20 years in ideal vintages. These premium examples may need 5 to 10 years to develop before they drink well. The potentially lighter Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Carmignano and Rosso di Montalcino tend to open earlier (around 5 years of age) but have a shorter life span of 8 to 10 years. The aging potential of Chianti is highly variable, depending on the producer, vintage and sub-zone of the Chianti region it is produced in. Basic Chianti is meant to be consumed within 3 to 4 years after vintage while top examples of Chianti Classico Riserva can last for upwards of 15 years. New World Sangiovese has so far, shown a relatively short window of drinkability with most examples best consumed with 3 to 4 years after harvest with some basic examples of Argentine Sangiovese having the potential to only improve for a year after bottling.
- With food: Sangiovese's high acidity and moderate alcohol makes it a very food-friendly wine when it comes to food and wine pairings. One of the classic pairings in Italian cuisine is tomato-based pasta and pizza sauces with a Sangiovese-based Chianti. Varietal Sangiovese or those with a smaller proportion of the powerful, full-bodied Cabernet blended in, can accentuate the flavours of relatively bland dishes like meatloaf and roast chicken. Herb seasoning such as basil, thyme and sage play off the herbal notes of the grapes. Sangiovese that has been subject to more aggressive oak treatment pairs well with grilled and smoked food. If Cabernet, Merlot or Syrah plays a dominant role, the food pairing option should treat the Sangiovese blend as one of those fuller-bodied reds and pair with heavier dishes such as steak and thick soups like ribollita and puréed bean soup.
- Synonyms: Over the years, Sangiovese has been known under a variety of synonyms, many of which have come to be associated with a particular clone of the grape variety. Among the synonyms recognized for the grape include: Brunelletto (in the Grosseto region of Tuscany), Brunello, Brunello Di Montalcino, Cacchiano (in Tuscany), Calabrese (in Tuscany), Cardisco, Chiantino (in Tuscany), Cordisio, Corinto nero (on the island of Lipari in Calabria), Dolcetto Precoce, Guarnacciola (in the Benevento region of Campania), Ingannacane, Lambrusco Mendoza, Liliano (in Tuscany), Maglioppa, Montepulciano, Morellino, Morellone, Negrello (in Calabria), Negretta, Nerello (in Sicily), Nerello Campotu (in Calabria), Nerino, Niella (in Corsica), Nielluccia, Nielluccio (in Corsica), Pigniuolo Rosso, Pignolo, Plant Romain, Primaticcio, Prugnolo, Prugnolo Dolce (in Tuscany), Prugnolo Di Montepulciano, Prugnolo Gentile, Prugnolo Gentile Di Montepulciano, Puttanella (in Calabria), Riminese, Rosso di Montalcino, San Gioveto, San Zoveto (in Tuscany), Sancivetro, Sangineto, Sangiogheto (in Tuscany), Sangiovese Dal Cannello Lungo, Sangiovese Di Lamole, Sangiovese Di Romagna, Sangiovese Dolce, Sangiovese Gentile, Sangiovese Grosso, Sangiovese Nostrano, Sangiovese Piccolo, Sangiovese Toscano, Sangioveto (in Tuscany), Sangioveto Dell'Elba, Sangioveto Dolce, Sangioveto Grosso, Sangioveto Montanino, Sanvincetro, Sanzoveto, Tabernello, Tignolo, Tipsa, Toustain (in Algeria), Tuccanese (in Puglia), Uva Abruzzi, Uva Tosca, Uvetta, Uva brunella, Uva Canina, Vigna del Conte (in Calabria) and Vigna Maggio (in Tuscany).