Sangiovese is known for its orange robe, cherry and plum fruit, medium alcohol but high acidity and tannin.
It is the grape of choice in central Italy, so there is a wide array of styles produced. On one end of the spectrum, it can be pale, light and fruity - even astringent if overcropped. Sometimes it is beefed up with red imported from the south. On the other end of the spectrum, it can be sumptuous with rose, tobacco leaf and herbs marrying the fruit. Sangiovese most often reaches this latter style in Tuscany.
Tuscany includes two regions which best express this grape. The border of Chianti Classico DOCG was drawn up in 1716 as the quality was realized. Today, this region produces some of Italy's finest wines - complex, firm, savory and floral. They have 80-100% top quality Sangiovese in the blend and pair with the local cuisine of wild game, lamb and beef.
Montalcino is a hilltop producing a strain of Sangiovese named Brunello. This strain makes a heavier wine, which ages longer. Along with a dry climate and less fertile soils, it can become the most intense and longest lasting in the world. Brunello di Montalcino is 100% Sangiovese, aged for two years in oak, then two in the bottle, adding aromas of game, sweet tobacco, leather and spices. More dense wines come from the lower clay soils, while higher elevation marl yields more aromatic fruit. A large diurnal range encourages a "sophisticated bouquet".
Other noteworthy regions for Sangiovese include Rufina, which makes elegant and long lived wines, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Image Credit: Reuben Teo