Happy Monday to you all! Since I am finishing up writing a rather research- and labor-intensive guest post on another site (I’ll post the link once it’s live!), I’m going to start the week off lightly on The Academic Wino. A new edition of “Who’s Your Daddy” is overdue, so today we’ll be exploring the origins of another grape: Sangiovese.
Sangiovese (pronounced san-jo-veh-zeh), is one of the most widely planted grapes in Italy (more specifically, Tuscany). The word ‘Sangiovese’ is derived from the Latin phrase, ‘Sanguis Jovis’, meaning “blood of Jove (Jupiter)”. There are two different families of Sangiovese grapes; a large-berried variety, and a small-berried variety. The large-berried variety is often called “dolce” or “gentile”/”well-bread”, and also goes by the synonyms, Sangiovese Grosso, Prugnolo Gentile, and Brunello di Montalchino. The small-berried variety is also called “forte” or “montanino”/”from the mountain/rough”, and also goes by the synonyms, Cordisco, Morellino, Uva Tosca, Primutico, San Vicetro, Sangiovese dal Cannello, and Corto di Predappio. It is the latter, small-berried, family that is the grape used in Chianti wines. Sangiovese is the primary grape used in Chianti, with canaiolo and trebbiano making up the rest of the blend. In 1890, the blend was on average, 70%, 15%, and 15%, respectively, with current requirements according to law indicating that a Chianti must contain a minimum of 90% Sangiovese.
Sangiovese grapes are slow to mature and late ripening. As a result of having very thin skins, Sangiovese grapes are extremely susceptible to mold and other diseases, particularly in wet years. The most successful vineyards for growing Sangiovese are in limestone soils, with hot and dry weather throughout the growing season. It is one of the most common grapes in Italy (specifically, Tuscany), though is also found in California, Argentina, Corse, and Australia. Sangiovese can grow in other climates (i.e.,Virginia), however, it will likely not ripen to its’ full potential, and the style of wine most likely much lighter.
Wines made with Sangiovese grapes tend to be high in acidity and high in tannin, with moderate color and an average structure. Due to this high acidity, Sangiovese should only be made in oak barrels/casks, instead of steel or concrete, with the latter only further increasing the acidity level to a more unpalatable level. In addition to being high in acidity and medium-bodied, Sangiovese wines exhibit a bright and fruity character, with a finish that sometimes borderlines on bitter. On the nose and the palate, one may get hints of vanilla and sweet wood from the oak barrel, while exhibiting fruit qualities such as blueberry, strawberry, orange peel, and plum. Sangiovese often shows floral and spice character as well, including hints of violet, thyme, and rosemary.
In more recent years, Tuscan winemakers have been producing Sangiovese blends with Bordeaux varietals (particularly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot), which have become known as “Super Tuscans”. Super Tuscans exhibit much more complexity, as well as increased body weight and longer aging capabilities.
So, where does Sangiovese come from?
Sangiovese is thought to have been cultivated in Tuscany by the Etruscans. It is thought to have been mentioned as early as 1590 by Giovanvettorio Soderini (a.k.a., Ciriegiulo), referring to it as “Sangiogheto”, which according to some historians, is the first account of the Sangiovese grape. It wasn’t until 1772 that the word “Sangiovese” was first found to be written, though it is widely believed that the Sangiovese grape is at least 2000 years older than that.
As a result of DNA profiling by José Vouillamoz, a scientist at the Istituto Agrario di San Michele all’Adige, we are now relatively confident in the parentage of the Sangiovese grape. So, without further ado; Sangiovese: Who’s Your Daddy?
Sangiovese is an ancestral cross between…..
I hope you enjoyed this short foray into the origins of the Sangiovese grape! If you have any comments or any requests for future “Who’s Your Daddy” posts, I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to comment below!
I am not a health professional, nor do I pretend to be. Please consult your doctor before altering your alcohol consumption habits. Do not consume alcohol if you are under the age of 21. Do not drink and drive. Enjoy responsibly!