Now that I’m back in the trenches sipping vino, I hope to continue my exploration of the Sangiovese varietal. I will continue exploring other wines as well, of course. Still, the renown and venerable Sangiovese has somehow caught my interest.
Sangiovese Grapes by Francesco Sgroi
Winemaker: Di Majo Norante
Appellation: Terre degli Osci IGT, Italy
Notes: This southern Italian was a bit like opening an old cedar chest with mothballs in it. Those were the scents that immediately struck me – cedar resin and menthol. A dark wine in the glass, it was medium-bodied with good acidity. The tannins were quite present, verging on high. Alcohol was at 13%. On the palate I tasted rubber, blackberry, resin, menthol, pepper and woody tannins that lingered. Pretty decent, I’d say. In fact, given the tannic structure, I think it might have been a good candidate for cellaring.
Poggio Anima is a joint venture between Riccardo Campinoti of Le Ragnaie and his U.S. importer Vine Street Imports. According to their website, they “wanted to capture the ‘soul’ of each vineyard and grape. No manipulation, no water, sugar, etc. Just the pure expression of the fruit and site.” Sounds good to me.
Notes: This Tuscan was a rich, dark red with a bouquet of sous bois (damp forest floor), mushrooms, oak, a touch of pepper, and underlying fruit. It had high acidity, medium tannins and alcohol at 13%. The light-bodied Belial brought a fascinating group of flavors to my palate, including grapeseed, cranberry and sour cherry, quinine and white pepper. This was – for me – one of the tartest wines I’ve had in awhile. I would not call it bitter, but definitely tart. As it turns out, though, I enjoy tart flavors. So I found this Sangiovese to be quite fun to drink.
I hope my wine blogging friends didn’t think I’d forgotten my desire and intention to experience and learn more about this venerable wine varietal! Not by a long shot. Oh, there may have been a hiatus, but the break has only whetted my thirst for more. I picked this bottle up at a boutique wine shop not too far down the road.
Notes: Scents wafting from this dark garnet glass of wine included violets, berries, and dry earth. It was medium-bodied with good acidity and medium tannins. A dry Sangiovese at 14% alcohol, it brought flavors of red plum, violets, dried green herbs, and a hint of carob to the tongue. In addition, the finish was quite tart. I found it an interesting drink. No doubt it’d be a nice accompaniment for a variety of meat dishes.
Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle! In my continued search for and experiments with Sangiovese varietal wines, I managed to run across this one very recently at my local Whole Foods. What a fun little surprise. I say it’s a surprise because not more than a month ago, this selection wasn’t on their shelves. How very nice of them to aid me in my research! lol This Italian red was made by Donna Laura SRL and imported into the U.S. by Banville & Jones. It is named in honor of Alicia, daughter of Lia Tolaini-Banville.
Winemaker: Donna Laura SRL
Wine: Ali Sangiovese Toscana
Appellation: Toscana, Italy IGT
Price: $10.99 at Whole Foods
Notes: The color of this Tuscan was a dark burgundy. In the bouquet I caught whiffs of berries and damp forest floor. It was light-bodied with high acidity and medium tannins. Alcohol was at 12.5%. I found this Ali pleasant enough in the flavor department albeit gentle on the palate. I tasted cherry drops, black pepper, tea, and a sage-like herbal note. I think it would most certainly make a decent accompaniment to a variety of pasta dishes or perhaps light meat dishes.
You may remember that I posted not too long ago about my visit to Childress Vineyards in Lexington, North Carolina. They have a full complement of selections to choose from, but I left with a bottle of their Sangiovese in hand. I was a little surprised to learn from the Childress folks that the grapes for this wine were grown in a vineyard just a few miles from the winery itself. North Carolina Sangiovese? I seriously had to give it a try!
Notes: You know how some garnets as well as raw steaks have a red coloring with a brown overtone? That was the color of this Childress. The bouquet held scents of tart red berries, pepper, wood, and a touch of must. It was light-bodied with a definite viscosity on the tongue. Tannins were quite gentle, and acidity was quite high. Alcohol was at 13.5%. On the tongue I found it very peppery with bright cherry and raspberry, a light oakiness, some jalapeno pepper and quinine on the close. I enjoyed this selection. The very present acidity – which brought those touches of jalapeno – reminded me more of a Garnacha than the typical Sangiovese.
This is the last of the Sangiovese varietal wines available at my local Whole Foods. As I was told by others (I think it was winegetter), the variations in the different bottlings are interesting. I’m happy to say that despite my focus on budget-friendly wines, I haven’t had any 100% Sangiovese that I’d label as plonk. That may be the result of the smart people buying for the local retailers, of course. At any rate, I now find myself faced with the need to wander farther afield to find more for my sampling purposes. Oh, boy! Field trip!!
Winemaker: Il Bastardo
Appellation: Toscana IGT, Italy
Price: $7.99 at Whole Foods
Notes: This Sangiovese was an extremely dark burgundy in color. On the nose I detected scents of wet earth, tangy berry, with notes of mocha and chocolate. It was medium-bodied with high acidity and medium tannins. Alcohol was at 13%. On the palate I caught flavors of oak (initially quite present, but settling with oxidation), plenty of blackberry, pepper, some dusty soil, and pomegranate on the finish. It certainly had enough structure – tannins and acidity – to stand up to foods and just enough in the flavor profile to make it sufficiently interesting on it’s own. Amazing? Well, no. But it’s a good bargain purchase.
I have to admit that I’m surprised with the local Whole Foods when it comes to their Sangiovese varietal wine options. There are four of them on their shelves. That’s pretty good by comparison. This is the third of them I’ve tasted – previous experiences were with a Globerati offering and a Gran Conti selection. Of course, that means there is only one more to go! When I purchased this Pirovano, I explained to the helpful wine staffer there (because he asked if he could help me) about my focus on only the 100% Sangiovese wines. He looked at me quizzically and then began recommending a good Chianti blend. When I stopped him and reiterated my intentions, he looked even more puzzled. He even thought that I didn’t understand that Sangiovese was a type of grape. Well, I thanked him for explaining, but assured him that I was fully aware of that fact. Once he realized that I really was serious about my particular approach, though, he smiled and with a quick shake of his head graciously helped me identify the four bottles of this varietal he had in stock.
Notes: The color of this red from Romagna was a dark ruby. In the ebullient bouquet I found scents of musty earth and berries. The body was light, acidity was high, and tannins were light. Alcohol was at 12%. This was a gentle Sangiovese with flavors of cherries, pepper, something along the lines of mustard greens, and a quick clove note near the very brief finish. To me, it seems made for family pasta night.