Sangiovese in the Vineyard? Brunello (brown one) in the Glass
Sangiovese is considered one of the most widely planted grape varieties in Italy (one in every 10 vines). You will find these grapes in 67 percent of Tuscan, Italy vineyards and it is the main grape in 25 DOC(G)s. The total Brunello production of Brunello? 750,000 cases (65 percent served at restaurants and exclusively available through private connoisseur wine cellars). The United States is one of the largest importers of Brunello, consuming 25 percent of production.
A New Grape is Born
The birth of the Sangiovese grape is questionable. Some research suggests that the Romans used this grape in their winemaking. It was mentioned in the 16th century by agronomist Gian Vittorio Soderini who mentioned the Sanghiogeto grape as good for making wine. In the 18th century Sangiovese became popular and was planted all over the region. In 1773, Cosimo Villa Franchi writes about the grape in the “L’Oenoligia Toscana” (his discussion of Chianti). In the 19th century, and Baron Bettino Ricasoli, owner of Castello di Broilio and innovator of Chianti, offered a recipe for winemaking using the Sangiovese grape.
It is believed that the grape originated from a spontaneous crossing during the Etruscan period of history and DNA has determined that the crossing was between Ciliegiolo and Calabrese di Montenuovo grapes. The Sangiovese Grosso is used in Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wines.
Not Quite Perfect
The grape is far from perfect as it tends to be genetically unstable and adaptable, creating clones. Banfi Vineyards documented over 600 versions of Sangiovese on their estate. In some cases, this attribute is being used to the advantage of the winery and estates are using multiple clones to improve balance and complexity to their wines. The Mediterranean climate is excellent for Sangiovese as it enjoys warm summertime temperatures and the dry weather leads to ideal berry maturation, while the day/night temperature differences generate complex aromas.
The denomination, Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino (made to be enjoyed young) are required by law to be made entirely with Sangiovese. In addition, DOCG regulations require Brunello vineyards to be planted on hills with good sun exposure, at altitudes not exceeding 600 meters or approximately 2000 ft. (in some cases this rule is not enforced because of global warming). The height is intended to ensure the grapes reach optimal ripeness and flavor before harvesting. Any higher than 600 meters and the mesoclimate becomes cooler to the point of being unreliable. READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT WINES.TRAVEL.