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Varietal > Sangiovese
Wine Grape Varietals 101


What is Sangiovese

Pronunciation: San-joe-VAY-zeh

Sangiovese is a grape variety closely tied to Tuscany, Italy, where winemakers use it to make the red wines of Chianti, Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino. They also blend it into many Super Tuscan wines. Sangiovese, in general, produces medium to full-bodied wines with medium-to-full tannins, vivid red and black fruit flavors and distinctive peppery and savory accents.

Sangiovese wines are known for their naturally high acidity and generally noticeable tannin content that give a grippy, palate-cleansing texture to many of the wines. But, some versions can be light-bodied, fruity and vibrant, made to be enjoyed young, like Rosso di Montalcino and Rosso di Montepulciano.

Sangiovese grapevines are more vigorous than average and can produce very large crops. Grape growers often plant them on poor, rocky or sandy soil that is relatively low in nutrients. This helps restrict the vines’ production of canes and leaves so that the vines direct their energy into ripening the grape clusters.

Sangiovese Synonyms

Sangiovese Grosso, Sangiovese Piccolo, Prugnolo Gentile, Sangiovese di Romagna, Sangiovese del Verrucchio and Sangioveto.

Sangiovese Regions

Sangiovese is rare among the great wine grape varieties of the world in that it has enjoyed limited success making notable wines outside of its home country.

Sangiovese is the most widely grown red grape variety in Italy. It has been documented in Tuscany since at least the 16th century. Dry red table wines are by far the most common wine type that Sangiovese is used for, but rosés and sparkling wines can be found here and there.

Tuscany is the traditional home of Sangiovese, where it has long been a major element in fine Chianti Classico wines and is now often the only grape variety used in them. Simple Chiantis, elegant Chianti Classicos and Chianti Classico Riservas all use mostly Sangiovese grapes. Winemakers in Umbria, the Marche, Romagna and many other spots of Central and Northern Italy use Sangiovese as well.

The most full-bodied, structured and age-worthy type is Brunello di Montalcino, which is also the only Tuscan wine that is required to be made only from Sangiovese grapes. The clone or selection of Sangiovese grown in this small section of southern Tuscany is Sangiovese Grosso, named for its large grape clusters.

Brunello di Montalcino wines and Super Tuscan wines have both gained world renown and status as collectibles that can age and improve for decades.

Sangiovese Tasting Notes

Sangiovese wine is a chameleon. It can exhibit a variety of aromas, flavors and textures. Known for its naturally high acidity, Sangiovese can yield light-bodied, early-drinking wines offering bright red berry and floral sensations.

Under the right conditions, however, Sangiovese can yield firmly structured, world-class, long-lived wines boasting dark cherry, spice and olive notes. With age, these wines show more complex notes of tobacco, flint and leather. It can also make savory rosatos and crisp sparklers.

Sangiovese grapes are found in red, rose, sparkling, and dessert wines.

Structural Characteristics

Low Medium High
Alcohol levels
Low Medium High
Low Medium High
Tannin Structure
Low Medium High

Examples of Sangiovese to Try

Handling Tips

55-60°F / 13-16°C
5-25 years

Fun Facts

  • The exact origin of the name Sangiovese may be lost to history, but it roughly translates as “blood of Jove,” referencing the Greek god.
  • Sangiovese boasts a dizzying diversity known as intra-varietal variability. This means it exhibits marked differences from clone to clone and even plant to plant.
  • Chianti Classico comes in three versions. Aged for 12 months before release, Annata versions are immediately accessible. Riserva and Gran Selezione have minimum aging periods of 24 and 30 months, respectively.