Sangiovese is a widely-cultivated grape in Italy. It is behind the extremely popular Chianti wines as well as other well-known red wines such as Brunello di Montalcino or Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Studies indicate that the origins of the Sangiovese variety are to be found in Tuscany and that its name probably comes from the words sanguis Jovis (Jupiter's blood). That first variety, which someone decided to honour by naming it after the King of the Gods, evolved over time in different ways leading to the numerous clones we know today and the variety of wines they create with significantly different characters.
The traditional style of Sangiovese wines expertly combines sweetness and bitterness, producing an aromatic profile of cherries and herbs which many people automatically associate with Italian wine. Styles more usually developed for international markets taste of blackberries and black plums and have a more noticeable mark of new wood. Chianti is a large and diverse region meaning its wines have a wide range of qualities and styles. Sangiovese is sometimes used to make single-variety wines here but it is also often blended with French grape varieties. The sub-region of Chianti Classico is home to the best wines. The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, a concentrated red wine with an ever-improving quality, usually includes 20% of Canaiolo, while the DOCG Brunello di Montalcino is the only appellation with rules stating that its fleshy wines must be 100% Sangiovese. The so-called Super-Tuscan wines are produced outside local appellations’ regulations as they mix the local character of Sangiovese with the international power of Bordeaux grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon.