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.
No, this isn’t about wine that was drunk in the movie, “Under the Tuscan Sun.” I’m talking about wine from grapes grown under the Tuscan sun. I mentioned previously that I am trying to learn more about the Sangiovese grape. To that end, I’m searching for reasonably-priced selections of wines that are 100% Sangiovese. In order to find those wines, it looks like I’m going to have to search beyond my usual wine-buying haunts. I have found a few, to be sure, but the majority of the Sangiovese options on the shelf are a Chianti blend which doesn’t serve my purpose of learning about Sangiovese alone. Chianti will be another vein of viniferous gold to explore, and I think I’ll be better prepared for that venture by my current endeavors. I hope so, anyway. I found this Pratesi at one of our local boutique wine shops. This was the only varietal Sangiovese they had. (Although they did have a Chianti they indicated was all Sangiovese. I may have to go back for that one.) Of course, there were plenty of other awesome wines. But I am on a quest of sorts. lol
Appellation: Toscana, Italy IGT
Price: $17.99 at Grateful Red Wines
Notes: This Sangiovese varietal wine was dark purple in color. On the nose I found plenty of pepper, raspberry, plum and some spice notes. It was light-bodied with decent acidity, slight tannins, and 13% alcohol. Flavors I encountered in this Tuscan offering were sweet raspberry, oak, a dash of pepper, and green herbs on the finish. I think this is a selection that might be a candidate for that glass of wine at the end of a long day. It’s fairly straightforward, with a light, pleasant flavor profile.
A little while back I mentioned that I had visited the Vizzini Farms Winery just outside of Birmingham, Alabama. If you dropped in more recently, you may have noted that I’m doing some exploration and sampling of Sangiovese offerings as a way of familiarizing myself with that varietal. It isn’t that I hadn’t had Sangiovese before. I just hadn’t focused on those experiences in a way that led to any lasting impressions regarding this venerable grape or the wine it can become. So it should come as no surprise that when I saw Vizzini Farms makes a Sangiovese, I snapped up a bottle to try.
Notes: The color of this American Sangiovese was a light ruby. On the nose I caught whiffs of spice, pepper, dark currant and black raspberry. The wine was very light-bodied with decent acidity which gave it almost an effervescent effect on the tongue. Tannins, on the other hand, were pretty much non-existent. On the palate I tasted sweet currant and black raspberry which all but disappeared in the mid-palate where I found this selection a bit weak. But then it rebounded for a fairly long finish with currant, pepper and a bitter medicinal note. It was an OK experience. Although I only tasted two of Vizzini Farms’ red offerings, it seems that I prefer their whites – such as the Viognier or Muscadine, for instance.
You may or may not have noticed, but I’ve been making my way through some inexpensive Sangiovese wines of late. The goal is to learn a little more about the wine as well as what is available to the budget-minded consumer in this varietal. I realize that to learn more, I’ll have to splurge a bit. And I will, I will. Of course, there is also the whole Chianti thing. Since many of the Chianti selections are blends, however, I’m sticking to the single varietal Sangiovese right now to help me understand this grape and the kind of wine it becomes. My exploration of this varietal is precisely why I couldn’t pass up this selection.
Winemaker: Grifone by Roccadoro (Castellani)
Appellation: Puglia IGT, Italy
Price: $4.99 at Trader Joe’s
Notes: This cheap Italian was dark red in the glass. I’d compare it to a velvet curtain in a traditional opera house. That shade of red. On the nose I found violets, plum and pepper. The body was very light but with a gentle plushness on the tongue. Acidity was good. Alcohol was at 12.5%. Tannins were moderate but distinctly present. As far as flavors I detected, there was an overarching woodiness (think dried twigs) to the wine, some pleasant plum, and a touch of pepper. The finish was a mix of tart and bitter much like pomegranate. This is definitely a good value. Amazing? No. Decent? You bet!