Across the twenty regions of Italy, a total of 370 grape varieties are cultivated and of course, each area has its own unique set of differences. So important is the art of viticulture, that each region's identity is shaped and defined through the wine that they produce.
Sangiovese, the most widely planted and renowned of the Italian red grapes, is the heartbeat of Tuscany and the key to unlocking the secrets of this unrivalled wine region. The name of this indigo coloured grape originates from the Latin, Sanguis Jovis, meaning the “Blood of Jupiter”, king of the gods. The main component of some of our favourite Italian wines, from Chianti to Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino, discover the expressive aromas, flavours and qualities of the noble Sangiovese grape.
Our short guide to the spirit of Tuscan wine
Sangiovese: the heartbeat of Tuscany
According to our favourite sommelier, Valentina Mazzetti, Sangiovese is the beating heart of Tuscan wine. The grape variety produces wines with high acidity and tannin, two characteristics integral to its ageing process. Tannins primarily come from the grapes skin, seeds and stems as well as the wooden barrels used during ageing. Whilst they provide texture and structure to the wine, it is the acidity that contributes to its ruby-red hue and how its taste matures with time.
Sangiovese wines often express amazing flavours of tart cherries, violets, plums and blueberries. When left to age it develops heartier notes of sweet tobacco, coffee and spices, with its ruby colour also deepening to a more intense garnet shade.
From Brunello di Montalcino to Chianti Classico
Chianti Classico is amongst the most internationally renowned of Italy’s appellations, but Brunello di Montalcino, from the province of Siena, is arguably the most expressive of the Tuscan wines. The intense, garnet-coloured, tannic Brunello, is produced from 100% Sangiovese grapes, whilst the wines of Chianti generally contain a blend of up to 70-85% Sangiovese.
The secret is in the soil
It is said in Tuscany that Sangiovese is a ‘storyteller’; its taste unlocks the tales of places and their history, and crucially, the secrets of the soil in which it grows. Sangiovese that thrives in calcareous soil will not yield the same wine as that grown in clay soil.
Whilst Chianti Classico flourishes in rocky clay soil (“galestro”), the Montalcino region is often encapsulated by its limestone (“alberese”) soils. Hence why our sommelier Valentina defines Chianti Classico as the best expression of Sangiovese, and Montalcino as the best expression of a Brunello.
So precise is the art of viticulture that the altitude and climate are also very important, making Tuscany the perfect wine-growing region for a number of prestigious Italian favourites.
Private wine tastings and wine tours in Tuscany
At one of our breathtaking vineyard villas, it is possible, not only to experience the viticulture of Tuscany but to live it. Get to know the vines where some of the world’s most iconic wines are made and immerse yourself in an unforgettable landscape.
Our expert travel concierge can also arrange for an intimate sommelier-led wine tasting with Valentina at your own luxury villa. Or if you are hoping to further deepen your knowledge and understanding of the Sangiovese, why not arrange a Chianti wine tour. Sangiovese, the blood of Jupiter, is a grape that has been all but deified and we think you’ll agree that it lives up to its name.