February is that exciting time of year that heralds the start of many new things for the coming year ahead, and for the younger folk that also means back to school!
So too here in the wine department, it’s back to basics with today’s short course on Italian varietals – First Unit:
Sangiovese, so you there at the back, listen up!
Ok, Sangiovese (san-jo-vehzeh) is a red grape variety that derives its name from the latin sanguis jovis “the blood of jove” – the Roman Jupiter.
It’s the most widely planted red grape variety in Italy. The grape is known for its high acid and high tannin content, lightmedium colour and fragrant aromatics and flavours of dark cherry, violets, and strawberry alongside savoury/herbal/ earth “tar and roses” and spice notes. It is grown in most of central Italy, plus Campania and Sicily. It’s most famous as the dominant red grape used in the Chianti region, as well as the grape behind Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino and Sangiovese di Romagna, and the more modern style of “Super Tuscans” where it is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with lashings of oak.
The grape thrives in many soils, especially so in those with a high concentration of limestone, ensuring elegance and strong aromatics. The growing season is long as it is slow to ripen, allowing the grapes to develop richness and body and as with most classic varieties, it benefits from low yields.
In Australia, it’s a variety that has thrived and now ensconced itself in the wine vernacular finding a home most notably in regions such as McLaren Vale, King Valley, Heathcote and excitingly, nearby in the Yarra Valley.
One such producer really pushing the bar is Stefani Estate in the Yarra Valley.
Owner Stefano Stefani came to Australia in 1985 from the rolling hills of Tuscany where his grandfather owned a vineyard and was an avid wine collector.
Stefano, like his grandfather, is also passionate about producing good-quality wine and works closely alongside his winemaker Peter Mackey, who has been involved with wineries since childhood in New Zealand, and has experience working in various countries including USA, France, South Africa, Argentina, the UK, Chile and China.
Stefano and his wife purchased their first Yarra Valley property in 1997, with planting commencing shortly after.
Once established, in 2002 they also purchased a property in Heathcote – famous for its rich red Cambrian soils, with construction of a winery completed in 2003. Another Yarra Valley property was also purchased in 2003 and planted out immediately. The wines they produce speak volumes of the regions where they are grown, and their Sangiovese in particular from the Yarra Valley is very exciting to say the least.
Ok, that’s enough for today. Class dismissed!
SANGIOVESE IN A CLASS