In the Montalcino region, where there is a high proportion of limestone-based alberese soils alternating with deposits of galestro. The lesser zones of the generic Chianti appellation are predominantly clay, which often produce as high quality of wine as alberese and galestro do. The grape requires a long growing season, as it buds early and is slow to ripen. The grape requires sufficient warmth to ripen fully, but too much warmth and its flavours can become diluted. A longer growing season gives the grapes time to develop richness and potential body.
However, in cool vintages this can result in the grapes having high levels of acidity and harsh, unripened tannins. In regions like some areas of Tuscany that are prone to rainfall in October, there is a risk for rot due to the Sangiovese grape's thin skin. For the best quality, yields need to be kept in check as the vine is notably vigorous and prone to overproduction.
In Chianti, most quality conscious producers limit their yields to 3 pounds 1. Wine made from high-yielding vines tend to produce wines with light color, high acidity, and less alcohol , which are likely to oxidize "brown" prematurely due to a lower concentration of tannins and anthocyanins anti-oxidants. Soils with low fertility are ideal and help control some of the vigor of the vine. Planting vines in high densities in order to curb vigor may have the adverse effect of increasing foliage and limiting the amount of direct sunlight that can reach the ripening grapes.
While high-yielding clones have been favored in the past, more attention is being paid to matching the clone to the vineyard site and controlling the vine's vigor. The high acidity and light body characteristics of the Sangiovese grape can present a problem for winemaking. The grape also lacks some of the color-creating phenolic compounds known as acylated anthocyanins. One historical technique is the blending of other grape varieties with Sangiovese, in order to complement its attractive qualities and fill in the gaps of some of its weaker points.
The Sangiovese-based wines of Chianti have a long tradition of liberally employed blending partners—such as Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo, Mammolo , Colorino and even the white wine grapes like Trebbiano and Malvasia. Other techniques used to improve the quality of Sangiovese include extending the maceration period from 7—12 days to 3—4 weeks to give the must more time to leach vital phenols out of the grape skins.
Transferring the wine during fermentation into new oak barrels for malolactic fermentation gives greater polymerization of the tannins and contributes to a softer, rounder mouthfeel.
Additionally, Sangiovese has shown itself to be a "sponge" for soaking up sweet vanilla and other oak compounds from the barrel. For aging the wine , some modern producers will utilize new French oak barrels but there is a tradition of using large, used oak botti barrels that hold five to six hectoliters of wine.
Some traditional producers still use the old chestnut barrels in their cellars. While Sangiovese plantings are found worldwide, the grape's homeland is central Italy. From there the grape was taken to North and South America by Italian immigrants. It first achieved some popularity in Argentina where in the Mendoza region it produced wines that had few similarities to its Tuscan counterparts. In California the grape found a sudden surge of popularity in the late s with the "Cal-Ital" movement of winemakers seeking red wine alternatives to the standard French varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot noir.
While there was over , hectares , acres of Sangiovese planted in Italy in , plantings of the grape began to decline.
However, at the turn of the 21st century, Italy was still the leading source for Sangiovese, with 69, hectares , acres planted in , primarily in the Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna , Sicily , Abruzzo and Marche regions. In Italy, Sangiovese is the most widely planted red grape variety.
It is an officially recommended variety in 53 provinces and an authorized planting in an additional It is the main grape used in the popular red wines of Tuscany, where it is the solitary grape of Brunello di Montalcino and the primary component of the wines of Chianti , Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and many "Super Tuscans".
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Significant Sangiovese plantings can also be found outside central Italy in Lombardia , Emilia-Romagna, Valpolicella and as far south as Campania and Sicily. The intense fruit and deep color of Cabernet was shown to be well suited for blending with Sangiovese but banned in many Italian DOCs. In the s, the rise of "Super Tuscans"-wines that eschew DOC regulation in favor of the lower classification of vino da tavola -increased the demand for more flexibility in the DOC laws. While the first DOC to be permitted to blend Cabernet Sauvignon with Sangiovese was approved for Carmignano in , most of Tuscany's premier wine regions were not permitted to blend Cabernet Sauvignon with Sangiovese till the late 20th century.
From the early to midth century, the quality of Chianti was in low regard. Some wineries trucked in full bodied and jammy red wines from Sicily and Apulia to add color and alcohol to the blend—an illegal practice that did little to improve the quality of Chianti. From the s through the s, a revolution of sorts spread through Tuscany as the quality of the Sangiovese grape was rediscovered. Today there is a broad range of style of Chianti reflecting the Sangiovese influence and winemaker's touch.
Traditional Sangiovese emphasize herbal and bitter cherry notes, while more modern, Bordeaux-influenced wines have more plum and mulberry fruit with vanilla oak and spice.
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Stylistic and terroir based differences also emerge among the various sub-zones of the Chianti region. In general, Sangiovese has a more difficult time fully ripening in the Chianti region than it does in the Montalcino and Maremma regions to the south.
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This is due to cooler nighttime temperatures and high propensity for rainfall in September and October that can affect harvest time. These slopes tend to produce lighter and more elegant wines that then those made from vineyards on south and southwest facing slopes. In the late 20th and early 21st century, the Maremma region located in the southwest corner of Tuscany has seen vast expansion and a surge of investment from outside the region.
The area is reliably warm with a shorter growing season. Sangiovese grown in the Maremma is capable of developing broad character but does have the potential of developing too much alcohol and not enough aroma compounds.
Sangiovese is considered the "workhorse" grape of central Italy, producing everything from everyday drinking to premium wines in a variety of styles-from red still wines, to rosato to sweet passito , semi-sparkling frizzante and the dessert wine Vin Santo. In northern Italy, the grape is a minor variety with it having difficulties ripening north of Emilia-Romagna. In the south, it is mainly used as a blending partner with the region's local grapes such as Primitivo , Montepulciano and Nero d'Avola.
In the Romagna region of Emilia-Romagna, the same grape is called Sangiovese di Romagna and is widely planted in all the Romagna region east of Bologna. Like its neighboring Tuscan brother, Sangiovese di Romagna has shown itself to spring off a variety of clones that can produce a wide range of quality—from very poor to very fine.
The grape seems to produce the highest quality wine in the sandstone and clay rich hills south of the Via Emilia near the Apennines which is covered by much of the Sangiovese di Romagna DOC zone. The higher summer time temperatures of this area gives more opportunity for Sangiovese to sufficiently ripen. In France , while some producers in the Languedoc are now experimenting with the variety, Sangiovese has a long history on the island of Corsica where it is known as Nielluccio. The grape was likely brought to the island sometime between 14th and 18th century when it was ruled by the Republic of Genoa.
In Greece , producers in the northeastern wine region of Drama in East Macedonia and Thrace are experimenting with oak-aged "Super Tuscan" style blends of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. Italian immigrants brought Sangiovese to California in the late 19th century,  possibly at the Seghesio Family's "Chianti Station," near Geyserville. But it was never considered very important until the success of the Super Tuscans in the s spurred new interest in the grape. Early results in the late 20th century, were not very promising for California winemakers. Poor site and clonal selection had the grape planted in vineyards that gave it too much exposure to the sun, producing wines that had little in common with the wines of Tuscany.
The Antinori family, which once owned Atlas Peak Vineyards located in the Atlas Peak AVA in the foothills of Napa Valley found that the greater intensity of sunlight in California may have been one possible factor for the poorer quality. Recent years have focused on improving vineyard site and clonal selection as well as giving the vines time to age and develop in quality.
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Today, winemakers are seeking out locations that can highlight the varietal character of Sangiovese. These young plantings in areas such as Walla Walla , Naches Heights AVA and Yakima Valley have so far produced wines with a spicy and tart cherry flavours, anise , red currants , and tobacco leaf notes. In Canada , there are less than 10 acres 4. A small amount of the grape can also be found in British Columbia. Italian immigrants introduced the Sangiovese vine to Argentina in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Early site and clonal selection was less than ideal and, like California and Australia, recent endeavors have focused on finding the best clones to use and the right vineyard locations. The grape is not widely planted in Argentina and the focus is mostly on the export market. In there were 2, hectares 5, acres of Sangiovese planted, most of it in the Mendoza wine region with other isolated plantings in La Rioja and San Juan.
Across the Andes range, Chilean winemakers have been experimenting with plantings with hectares acres in Brazil reported 25 hectares 62 acres of Sangiovese in Sangiovese is becoming increasingly popular as a red wine grape in Australia , having been introduced by the CSIRO in the late s. The first large scale commercial planting of the grape was in the s when Penfolds expanded their Kalimna vineyard in the Barossa Valley. As the availability of clones expanded currently 10 available commercially as of , so did plantings of Sangiovese with hectares 1, acres in As in California, Australian winemakers have begun seeking out the best vineyard location for the grape and being more selective in which clones are planted.
In New Zealand , the first varietal version of Sangiovese was released in and today there are 6 hectares 15 acres of the grape planted, mostly on the North Island around Auckland. A small amount of Sangiovese is grown in South Africa with 63 hectares acres reported in , mostly in the Stellenbosch and Darling regions. Wines made from Sangiovese tend to exhibit the grape's naturally high acidity as well as moderate to high tannin content and light color.
Blending can have a pronounced effect on enhancing or tempering the wine's quality. The dominant nature of Cabernet can sometimes have a disproportionate influence on the wine, even overwhelming Sangiovese character with black cherry , black currant , mulberry and plum fruit. As the wine ages, some of these Cabernet dominant flavours can soften and reveal more Sangiovese character.
So what should we buy, I kept asking, by which I meant, what scenario are we imagining, what is the setting of the story in which we find ourselves? I know that part of the point of the Brexit vote is that it should not be business or even dinner as usual inside the houses of the bourgeoisie. I know that the whole idea is that people like me stop thinking about sumac. There are deer in the woods, my son says, we should get big knives for gutting them. Are we preparing for A Provincial Lady in Wartime or just a return to the s, say the scene in A Summer Birdcage where the cooking of spaghetti with wine in the sauce indicates bohemian sophistication?
How long are we planning for, anyway? Stockpiling is just a performance of the illusion that we can individually save ourselves from communal folly.