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  Editorial Issue 182, March 2019   
Sangiovese: Divine SoulSangiovese: Divine Soul  Contents 
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Sangiovese: Divine Soul


 Writing about my favorite grapes and wines is something I already did in the past. It is never easy – in these cases – to express an absolute and definitive position because, to tell the truth, there are so many wines and grapes I consider as favorite ones. Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, Sagrantino, Verdicchio, Fiano, Sauvignon Blanc, Marsala – and the list would be rather long – they are just a small part of what I like to pour into my very personal glass. In the list of my favorites there are, of course, also the grapes and wines of my land – Umbria – a constant presence for me that has always filled my glasses. I therefore add Grechetto, Trebbiano Spoletino, the aforementioned Sagrantino, the emerging and recently rediscovered Grero, in addition to the grape that was definitely the protagonist before the unstoppable success of the red grape from Montefalco: Sangiovese. It is not, and this is something well-known to anyone, a variety of Umbrian origin – to tell the truth, it was introduced in this region in relatively recent times – however present in the vineyards of the green heart of Italy.


 

 Grape of extraordinary personality, Sangiovese gives life to great wines of enormous and proven class and elegance, also thanks to its vast presence in the Italian territory. It should be noted that, his Majesty Sangiovese, is virtually present in almost all Italian regions, in fact, it is among the main grapes grown in the Bel Paese. The magnificence and charm of Sangiovese is not limited to Italy only: this great red grape is in fact also found in other wine-making countries of the world, giving birth to interesting enological interpretations. Talking about Sangiovese unmistakably means referring to the great wines of Tuscany – Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, just to name a few – however it is also capable of producing wine excellence in other Italian regions as well. The sons of Sangiovese can always be recognized in the glasses, even in those cases, so to speak, humble and modest.

 It is not easy to talk about Sangiovese as a “unique” variety, as it is an extremely prolific grape in terms of clones, a differentiation that is the result of both its long history and the adaptation processes, occurred over time, in the different territories where it is cultivated. Talking, therefore, about the expression of Sangiovese within a territory, also means considering the relative clone. In fact, we must note the enormous sensorial differences uniting and dividing at the same time the many wines from Sangiovese produced in Italy. It is not just a matter of regional differences, but, above all, territorial ones with strong changes occurring even in vineyards a few kilometers away one from each other. In fact, it is very likely the differences are mainly determined by the type of clone and not only by the territory and its microclimate. In general terms, in fact, it does not make much sense to compare, for example, a Brunello di Montalcino to a Romagna Sangiovese Superiore: two very different wines, however excellent, and not only for geographical reasons.

 Sangiovese is a grape of huge versatility, capable of giving a noble personality to its wines. One of the qualities I like about Sangiovese, is the pleasant acidity which is always perceived in its wines: not only capable of giving balance, but, above all, a touch of noble elegance. A grape not exactly rich in coloring substances – it must be said, a rather variable quality depending on the clone – Sangiovese produces wines with a sensation of moderate astringency, just another touch of elegance. As for the capability of producing alcohol, Sangiovese can be very generous, however – thanks to its pleasant acidity and moderate astringency – its wines reach a perfect balance, even when vinified in inert containers. In fact, these Sangiovese wines can be enjoyed for their immediacy, the frank and direct character of the great Italian red grape, making even the simplest style both rich and expressive.

 Moreover, Sangiovese is well suited for the vinification in wood – both in large cask and in barrique – something that has been known for a long time and many are the wines obtained from this grape and produced in this way. It is in fact enough to think about Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, as well as many other Sangiovese wines produced in Italy, to have a minimal list of the style produced in cask. Even in these cases, Sangiovese fully expresses its elegant personality, in which it is always perceived its characteristic crispness given by acidity. The vinification of Sangiovese in wood, moreover, increases both structure and astringency, also giving – according to time – a pleasant roundness which tends to balance its crispness. The vinification of Sangiovese in cask is, in any case, an operation requiring “a certain skill” – something true for any other wine, after all – as the excessive impact of wood tends to cover the aromas of flowers and red fruits of this grape. A fatal mistake that would transform the aromatic elegance of Sangiovese into a joke of carpentry.

 Sangiovese is capable of making other wonders as well. This magnificent red grape, in fact, is also used for the production of sweet wines – such as the charming Occhio di Pernice produced in Montepulciano – as well as white and sparkling wines. These styles, it must be said, represent a small part of the vast production of red wines produced with Sangiovese, however, even in these cases, it does not fail to prove its elegance and personality. The charm and finesse of Occhio di Pernice represent a magnificent tribute to the greatness of Sangiovese also in sweet style from dried grapes. What about the relationship between Sangiovese and time? When properly vinified for this purpose, wines produced with Sangiovese are capable of challenging time even for dozens of years, while developing an enormous complexity without ever losing elegance. Finally, accommodating and welcoming, Sangiovese can be successfully blended to other grapes to give life to new wine making interpretations of great class. A grape with a divine soul, a magnificent interpreter of divine wines. Long live the king Sangiovese!

Antonello Biancalana



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  Editorial Issue 182, March 2019   
Sangiovese: Divine SoulSangiovese: Divine Soul  Contents 
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