Sangiovese is an ancient Italian grape that predates Roman times, and remains one of that country’s two most important red wine grapes today. It’s name comes from the Latin sanguis Jovis, “the blood of Jove”. Believed to originate in Tuscany, it is the featured grape in most of that region’s wines, including Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and the great Brunello di Montalcino.
Sangiovese varies tremendously depending on where it is grown, and it has a knack for mutating into wines of quite distinct character. The two most common mutations are Sangiovese Grosso and Sangiovese Piccolo. One particularly prized clone of Sangiovese Grosso is Brunello (“little dark one”), which makes the most important wine of Italy outside of the Nebbiolo-based Barolos of Piedmont.
Though Sangiovese is the most planted red grape in Italy, outside of Italy there is very little Sangiovese in production. One cannot think of Sangiovese without identifying it with the wine regions of Italy, where it supplies ample variations on a theme. Generally the wine is medium-bodied, elegant, with lively acidity, firm tannins, and a savory core of dark cherry and plum fruit mingled with barnyard or leather elements. Seemingly custom designed for food pairing, Sangiovese is one of the most simpatico wines for the table.