Saturday, February 7, 2015

The clones of sangiovese in Tuscany

Welcome to our 4th #ItalianFWT (Italian Food, Wine & Travel) event featuring Tuscany this month.  Contemplating what to write about for this months focus on the region of Tuscany in Italy brought about too many ideas.  

I lived in Florence, Firenze in Italian, back during the tragic 9-11 in 2001.  I have returned there a number of times since then so needless to say this is the region that I feel the most comfortable with.  I have explored many of the small medieval towns and have tasted a number of wines from the wineries throughout the region.  Being an Italian wine blog, I decided to focus on the wines of the region, but it was tough also not to write about all the wonderful towns I have visited like Cortona, Volterra, San Gimignano, Montepulciano, etc..  
Vineyards of Tuscany
Vineyards of Tuscany
Chianti is one of the most popular wines known throughout the world.  It is based on the sangiovese grape, but there are many clones of it that you can find throughout Tuscany.  Depending on which region you are in or even which area of that region, you can get many versions of what this grape is capable of producing.  Tuscany alone has a number of different expressions of the sangiovese grape so I wanted to share those that are within the region.

Chianti & Chianti Classico
Within the Chianti region there is the Chianti DOCG and the Chianti Classico DOCG.  Obviously what is considered to be the better quality comes from the historical and renowned area of the Chianti Classico, but this isn't always the case either.  

Within the Chianti DOCG you can locate 7 different subzones each with their own characteristics: 

·         Colli Pisane- lightest in body
·         Colli Aretini – the newest subzone
·         Colli Fiorentini – Good character and fruit, but simple
·         Colli Senesi – this is the fallback appellation for the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG
·         Montalbano – this is the fallback appellation for the Carmignano DOCG
·         Montespertoli – used to be part of Colli Fiorentini
·         Rufina – considered the highest quality

The Chianti Classico DOCG has its own subzones:
·         Gaiole in Chianti
·         Greve in Chianti
·         Radda in Chianti
·         Castellina in Chianti
·         Panzano in Chianti
·         Castelnuovo Berardegna
·         Barberino Val d’Elsa

So as you can see there can be many variations of the sangiovese grape depending on not only the area, but the subzones as well.  Chianti DOCG was established in 1984 and requires at least 70% of the varietal vs. Chianti Classico DOCG established in 1996 requiring at least 85% sangiovese.  Additional indigenous grapes are blended including canaiolo, colorino, mammolo, etc.  Whites as of 2006 are no longer permitted in the Classico versions.

Vineyards of Brunello di Montalcino
Vineyards of Brunello di Montalcino by Megan Cole

Outside of these classic areas of Tuscany there are also 3 other areas that are recognized for producing some of Italy’s top wines including Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano as well as southern Tuscany’s Morellino di Scansano.  

Brunello di Montalcino
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG is really the top wine of Tuscany produced 100% by the sangiovese clone known as sangiovese grosso.  This wine is produced in the town of Montalcino in a warmer south-western section of Tuscany that produces riper, fuller bodied versions of sangiovese.  In addition the wine is aged 4 years in barriques and 5 years for a riserva.  

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
About 30 minutes away, east of Montalcino, you come across the town of Montepulicano where Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG is produced.  Make notice we are not talking about the grape montepulciano.  This sangiovese clone, prugnolo gentile, is required to produce at a minimum of 70% with additional grapes added such as canaiolo and mammolo.  This area has a little more sand and less fluctuations in temperature, but still produces wines that are fuller than chianti versions.  These wines must be aged 2 years and 3 years for a riserva.  

VIno Nobile di Montepulciano Tuscany
Vineyards of Montepuliciano by Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Morellino di Scansano
Lastly, if you weren’t confused by the many clones of sangiovese there is one other part of Tuscany that also uses sangiovese.  This area is considered the New Tuscany located in the Maremma area of southern Tuscany in the town of Scansano.  

In 1992 the IGT designation, Indicazione Geografica Tipica, was established as many producers didn’t want to follow the rules and they started experimenting with other grapes, in addition to the main varietal sangiovese, and starting blending cabernet sauvignon and merlot.  Hence was born some of the most popular wines in Italy known as Super Tuscans that include Sassicaia, Ornellaia and Tignanello.  

The Morellino di Scansano DOCG, in particular the morellino clone, is a darker version of sangiovese and in this area is produced with at least 85% of morellino.  It can be aged 4-12 months or 2 years for a riserva.  This particular area contains both volcanic soils that add minerality to the wine and some sea fossils as this area was once a marshland that drained in the 1930’s.  The morellino here shows fresh, rounder fruit with some chewiness.
Morellino di scansano grapes
Morellino di Scansano - Rights of consorzio di tutela del morellino di scansano 

I could go on and on about sangiovese, but this covers it for Tuscany.  Our Tuscan journey doesn't stop here.  Join all of our other bloggers as they share with you their experience through the region of Tuscany.


Cooking Chat - Tuscan beef stew and wine pairing
Food Wine Click - In Tuscany, red wine pairs with fish
Curious Appetite - Tuscan baked goods and secret bakeries in Florence
Flavourful Tuscany - Tuscany: the cult of wines and the dining pleasure
Enofylz - A Taste of the Tuscany coast
Rockin Red Blog - Travel to Tuscany without leaving home with #ItalianFWT
Girls Gotta Drink - What is up with the Chianti Classico black rooster?
Italophilia - Castello di Poppiano
Orna O'Reilly - Five days on Elba

Join us next month on Saturday March 7th as we travel to the region of Trentino-Alto Adige in the northeastern part of Italy in the Dolomite mountains.  For additional Italian related blogs on the food, wine and travel of Italy stay tuned to #ItalianFWT on Twitter throughout the month.  Ciao Ciao!

If you'd love to experience this region for yourself please inquire with me at vinotravels @ hotmail . com.