Sangiovese - A Baker's Dozen

Chianti goes head-to-head with a pair from Sonoma.



2005 Isole e Olena Cepparello

This is rich and savory on the nose with gamey scents adding depth to the notes of straw, mineral, and floral tones that float above a nice bed of strawberry fruit. This has great sweetness yet remains transparent and ethereal on entry, with an elegance that extends across the palate.  The flavors are quite earthy and leathery with fine mineral tones, while the fruit remains astringent and red through the palate and onto the finish. The overall feel in the mouth is one of freshness and precision, with a nice spicy tone on the finale, which could be a bit longer. All in all a beautiful bottle of Sangiovese. 93pts

2006 Castello di Ama Chianti Classico

The nose here is a bit on the sweet side with notes of figs and milk chocolate floating above a bed of roasted plum and cherry fruits. On entry this shows lots of acid, but it is well-buffered by lots of sweet fruit. Notes of leather, limestone, and earth are all subsumed in bitter cherry fruit with lovely purity and unusual elegance across the mid-palate. The finish is a bit short with a gentle fade of bitter cherry and earth. A lovely and distinguished wine but the price is a bit steep. 91pts

2006 Geografico Montegiachi Chianti Classico Riserva

Sweet and smoky on the nose, like an old pipe, with touches of cocoa, dried spice, and earth surrounding very pure and light raspberry fruit. On entry this offers slightly chalky tannins, but they are balanced by sweet fruit, yielding a rather high-toned, light feel. The flavors are very fresh and full of crisp strawberry tones that are ultimately a bit simple but lusciously juicy on the palate and finish. This offers fine length and real finesse on the backend with hints of soil and game adding contours to the wonderfully bright fruit. An all-around winner of a style that is a bit unadorned but wonderfully proportioned. 91pts

2006 Monte Bernardi  Sa’etta Chianti Classico Riserva

This has quite an unusual nose with lots of smoky wood tones, lightly sweet nutty notes and hints of dried porcini and aromatic roots. Rich and smooth in the mouth, with an unusual black olive note up front that cuts through the dark fruit. This is fairly tannic with tannins that are a bit woody. The fruit is pretty sweet, and well into the blackberry end of the spectrum, but the tremendous minerality of the mid-palate cuts right through the sweetness. The tannins intrude on the finish, which has a bit too much sweet coffee cream tones that almost dominate the red currant fruits on the finale but this may but this just may need a year or three in the cellar to sort itself out. A wine that shows great promise. 90pts

2007 La Massa IGT

60% Sangiovese, 30% Merlot and 10% Cabernet

Integrated sweet wood, smoke, tree bark, cocoa and tobacco tones add depth and complexity to the plummy fruit. This enters with a fair amount of weight and density with lots of sweet, dark, ripe fruits that have the sweet/sour edge of tamarind. The fruits are slightly stewy but still nice and fresh with good acidity and fine, ripe tannins. This finishes with a floral flourish and chewy tannins that help to offset the red currant fruit, tobacco and cocoa of the moderately long finish. A bit atypical but still complex and rich. 90pts

2005 Castell’in Villa Chianti Classico

Smoky and leathery on the nose with nuanced tones of campfire, roasted herbs, a touch of meat, and bitter cherry fruit.  On the palate this is nicely ripe and very well-integrated with red cherry fruit supported by good acids/mineral tones. There are lovely inner mouth perfumes of flowers and herbs. The tannns are ripe and add the juicy, ripe feel of this. The finish is a bit subtle and while there is a nice lingering finale of fruit and herb, it drops away a bit. A lovely bottle of Chianti. 90pts

2007 Acorn Sangiovese Alegria Vineyards RRV

Wood, wet earth, twizzler candy, some sandy and chalky soil tones all blend on the nose.  This starts out feeling quite soft but quickly gains the snap of good acidity and astringent tannins that help to frame the slightly dark, but still transparent black raspberry and cherry fruit. It’s a touch hot on the palate, and that serves to accentuate the spicy nature of the wine. The finish has a bit of wood tannin, and is a bit hot but offers nice purity to that wild raspberry fruit tone. There is a very nice vein of mineral and bitter almond skin running through the palate and on to the long finish. 89pts

2007 Sausal Sangiovese Alexander Valley Estate

This almost explodes from the glass with aromas of rust, wet rocks, stemmy wood, mint, and integrated wood spice sweetness and with a touch of vanilla accenting the red cherry fruit.  In the mouth this is rich, a bit soft but very broad on the palate. There’s a ton of sweet fruit, probably helped out by a bit of sweetness from the oak treatment, though the oak is very well integrated. It’s a pretty big wine with a round, lush mouthfeel that is much more fruit driven than the nose but even with all that fruit there is the telltale bitter almond note of Sangiovese cleaving it’s way through the fruit and emerging on the long, succulent and refreshing finish.  This is a wine for steaks or sausages, not pasta, and finishes a touch hot but is fun to drink. 89pts

2005 Nipozzano Chianti Classico Riserva

Floral on the nose with lots of jammy, yet transparent fruit, hints of asphalt and roasted vegetables add nice detail and interest. On the palate this has silky smooth tannins that add some volume in the mouth, but this is a classic, austere style of wine. It’s ripe, but still drying, particularly on the finish. The fruit however, is remarkably pure and totally Sangiovese. This screams for fatty, lightly flavored meats. A delightfully refreshing wine in this style, which will show much better with food than on its own. 88pts

2008 Caposaldo Chianti –  Composite cork

Nice, typical, cherry, astringent mineral, smoky soil tones and herbs on the nose.  Lovely entry, soft yet with freshness and integrated acids. Just a touch of soft tannin adds a bit of flesh to the mouth. The flavors are a bit subdued, but with lovely raspberry tones and just a hint of cherry. There is a nice acid/mineral grab on the mid-palate and a touch of fleshiness that leads to a lovely, slightly astringent, slightly almond-toned finale of pretty good length that ends with notes of spice and cherry fruit.  Really nice straight Chianti. 87pts


2005 Fonterutoli Chianti Classico

Smoke and tar on the nose with the bell pepper, leafy tones and black currant fruit of Cabernet Sauvignon over milky oak tones. Rich and smooth on entry with the added density and flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is well-integrated but obvious. There’s a touch of wood spice here, and some wood tannins that poke out on the finish, which is a bit short, but shows rich blackberry and black cherry fruit. A well-made wine, but not my style of Chianti. 87pts

2005 La Brancaia Chianti Classico

Muddy, plummy and sweet on the nose with a very ripe (unusually so for a 2005) and caramelly nose.  In the mouth this is very cherry-fruited with a little sweetness right up front, good depth across the palate with nicely balanced acids that pop on the finish. Overall this is pretty one-dimensional and will turn pretty acidic once the sweetness, probably from wood, fades. 85pts

2008 il Molino di Grace Il Volano  IGT Toscano 75% Sangiovese/ 25% Merlot Nomacorc

Smoky, smells like there’s a bit of oak here but the producer states only SS. A bit hot, lots of sweet, prune and choco notes from the Merlot are married to more typical leather, red fruit, herb, and astringent soil tones from the Sangio.  On entry this is slightly soft, decent acids kick in on the mid-palate, as do some minor tannins, all of which help to add a bit of needed flesh to the rich, soft, slightly anonymous fruit on the mid-palate that blends notes of both Merlot and Sangiovese but ultimately carries more of the prune character of the Merlot. The finish is short and clean, if a touch hot.  A good Pizza wine. 83pts

Super Sangiovese - Perfect for your dinner table.

2006 Geografico Montegiachi Chianti Classico Riserva
This has flavors that are very fresh and full of crisp strawberry tones that are ultimately a bit simple, but lusciously juicy on the palate and finish. This gains hints of soil and game on the finish, adding contours to the wonderfully bright fruit. An all-around winner of a style that is a bit unadorned, but wonderfully proportioned.

2005 Castell'In Villa Chianti Classico
Smoky and leathery on the nose, with nuanced tones of campfire, roasted herbs, a touch of meat, and bitter cherry fruit.  On the palate this is nicely ripe and very well-integrated with red cherry fruit supported by good acid/mineral tones, with a lovely, lingering inner mouth perfume of flowers and herbs.  A lovely bottle of Chianti.


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Comments

  • Snooth User: rreichert
    Hand of Snooth
    30553 412

    How prevelant you guys are today!

    I just sat through a great tasting of Sangiovese last night and was gearing up to do some writing on it. This is a great addition to the bunch.

    Cheers!

    Ryan

    Feb 25, 2010 at 1:08 PM


  • My wife and I are particularly fond of Sangiovese from Feld Stone winery in Sonoma as well -- 2004 thru 2006. The Sausal Zin was also particularly good -- 2002.

    Feb 25, 2010 at 1:15 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 184,277

    Hey Ryan,

    So what did you try and what did you think?

    Hi Stewart, Haven't tried the Fieldstone Sangiovese but it's one I'll look for. I've always liked their wines.

    Feb 25, 2010 at 2:34 PM


  • Gregory: Thanks for your response. I know you'll really like their version. Forgive me if I sound presumptive, but watch out...there are three wineries using the name. The one we like is "Field Stone" in Healdsburg, CA. Again, sorry. I mean no disrespect

    Feb 25, 2010 at 3:24 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 184,277

    Hey Stewart.

    None taken. that's the one I am referring to as well. At least I think that's the one! Older winery in Sonoma, makes nice cab, excellent Petite Sirah? Come to think of it I need to add them to my list of wineries to visit next time I am on the west coast.

    Feb 25, 2010 at 3:51 PM


  • Snooth User: mbew
    169856 5

    Walla Walla also has some very nice Sangioveses. Russell Creek and Balboa Candy Mountain are 2 fine examples.

    Feb 25, 2010 at 4:33 PM


  • Snooth User: whipper68
    129212 2

    We have a wine here in the Great Northwest that won best Red Blend at Ray's Boathouse. They have the Best view of the sound in Seattle.

    Wine is 69% Sangio and about equal parts cab and syrah. Made by Brian Carter Cellars.. Cost $30

    Feb 25, 2010 at 4:43 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 184,277

    So hard to find the geek wines from the Pacific Northwest around here in NYC. I think you guys drink it all yourselves.

    I've enjoyed an afternoon snacking and drinking at Ray's Boathouse. Looking forward to another visit!

    Feb 25, 2010 at 5:10 PM


  • Snooth User: jhberger
    133570 8

    Paolo diMarchi of Isole e Olena is one of the true artists of Tuscany and Cepparello is his high point. The Chianti Classico he produces are also among the best the region has to offer and at around $25, more accessible than Cepparello. On this side, Michael Muscardini makes a beautiful Sangiovese in Sonoma.

    Feb 25, 2010 at 5:27 PM


  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 6,327

    I have always like Ray's Boathouse--not only for the fish and the view, but also their very well-selected winelist...

    Feb 25, 2010 at 5:38 PM


  • So why do you suppose more vintners don't produce a California version of Chianti? We could use some good everyday spaghetti wine right here in the USA. I know a few wineries in Santa Barbara and Paso are making some and you have identified a few from No Cal but given our climate how come more don't?

    Feb 25, 2010 at 5:41 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 184,277

    An excellent question. I would love to see more sangiovese, Barbera, temranillo, and Portuguese varieties planted, and produced in lighter styles. I think the problem is simply that these wines don't command the prices, and perhaps in a way, the respect that Cabernet and Pinot do.

    I think that as the wine mentality improves more producers will admit that their vineyards are not ideal for these grapes and will turn to more forgiving grapes to produce solid wines that might even be profitable!

    Feb 25, 2010 at 5:50 PM


  • Snooth User: luvgrapes
    168407 14

    Greg, add Santa Cruz Mtn Vineyard to your next trip as well. Jeff Emery is doing some great things with Spanish & Portuguese varietals. Even makes a "Portuguese-style dessert wine" for which he grows the Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional & Tinta Cao...and even better he is part owner of the distillery that produces the alambic brandy that he adds to his 'Port-style wine.' How cool is that. Even the Portuguese can't produce/use alambic brandy anymore. Sorry to drift away from Sangiovese as the discussion topic.

    Feb 25, 2010 at 8:19 PM


  • I recently visited Montalcino and found out some interesting facts about Sangiovese....if you'd like to check it out, it's the Feb. 3 article on http://www.deepredcellar.com

    Feb 26, 2010 at 5:06 AM


  • Snooth User: Eric Guido
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    92549 143,297

    Great stuff Greg, you also hit on a lot of bottles I haven't tried. Amazing how much Sangiovese is out there, so many good producers too. (Unfortunately, a lot of bad ones too)

    Have you ever tried Pride's Sangiovese?(expensive, i know but I was wondering if it was worth seeking out.)

    Feb 26, 2010 at 10:33 AM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 184,277

    Hi Eric,

    Never tried Pride's. Have tried Leonetti's though. Expensive, big and plush. Fun to drink but lacking the acid and brightness that i look for. I would be curious about trying Pride's.

    Feb 26, 2010 at 10:44 AM


  • Dear Gregory,
    Here in Mendoza, Argentina, we developed a perfect Sangiovese at Escorihuela Gascón Winery.
    Perfect in acidity, and on the "leggero" side. A must try with italian pasta and risottos with asparagus or sea food (wouldn't do though this any too spicy or with meat sauce) or fish, specially grilled salmon or a good baked branzino with dill.

    Here, as chef at the Restaurant Puro Sur in the Hotel Patagonia, we have been working very well this grape, unknow up to this year.

    We do very frecuently experiences on "choose the wine and we serve the food accordingly". Having the expierence of 6 years living in Italy, your articles on the different wines and regions of the country are cery good reminders.

    Greetings and Salud!

    Feb 26, 2010 at 11:39 AM


  • Snooth User: cippa
    199041 12

    Hi to all,
    I live in the native land of the Sangiovese can indicate to you some less famous labels but that they deserve of being drunk.
    CAPARZO Rosso di Montalcino 2007 (great vintage , i sell 8 euros) a really easy wine, you cant stop to drink...
    . Observe the Sangiovese of MONTECUCCO close Montalcino, powerful and sometimes blended with Cabernet. (companies Monte Antico or Muschi Alti, the second rich of wood and vanille ). One of the best ones for power, structure, and quality -price is ELISEO of Gualdo del Re (9 euros) that it produces also one of 100 better Italian wines (" Rennero" , Merlot) . Many good surprise from South Tuscany , good terroir, hard to live and to work far from rich Chianti but real expression of job.

    Good Glass to All

    Feb 26, 2010 at 12:33 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 184,277

    Ciao Cippa,

    Love the Caparzo and Rossos (Montalcino and Montepulciano) very much. Only experience with Montecucco was with Salustri. Eh. I'll look for others though.

    Grazie.

    Feb 26, 2010 at 4:43 PM


  • Hi Greg -
    I was wondering what your thoughts were on the Sangiovese produced by Vino Noceto out of California? Particularly their 06 & 07 Riservas. I've tried them both and find them to be very enjoyable. keep up the great reviews!!!

    Thanks!

    Mar 02, 2010 at 11:23 AM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 184,277

    Hi John,

    I have only had the 2006 Sangiovese from Vino Noceto. I thought it was lovely, obviously new world but at the same time obviously Sangiovese. http://www.snooth.com/wine/vino-noc... I'm hoping to visit them in the coming year.

    Thanks very much!

    Mar 02, 2010 at 11:45 AM


  • Snooth User: MATEL
    332443 3

    I recently did a wine tour of Chianti and discovered the suberb 2006 vintage
    Chianti Classico...which perhaps will prove to be the best EVER !!
    Back home here in New Jersey I bought and am overwhelmed by the 2006 Villa Carfaggio which has intense nose, perfect color, and an unbelievable after taste.
    Also consider the 2006 Brunello and Vino Nobile de Montepulcianos which are coming on the market a decent price levels for wines of such high quality and are drinkable now.

    I certainly can recommend Dolce Vita Wine Tours. Claudio and Pat make Chianti memorable with their intimate knowledge of the vinyards and local restaurants.

    Matt Potash
    matel24@msn.com

    Mar 10, 2010 at 6:01 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 184,277

    Thanks for the follow up Matt.

    Mar 10, 2010 at 6:28 PM


  • I haven't seen anyone mention Texas sangiovese so I feel the need to jump in here! If y'all ever come through here on your way to another wine destination please stop by and I'll pour you a glass of Bar Z or McPherson sangiovese. This grape does really well in the High Plains and you need to see and taste it for yourselves. Flat Creek does a fair job as well but it has not been as consistent as when Craig Parker was making their "Super Texan".

    Jul 28, 2010 at 5:04 PM


  • Gregory & Eric - definitely seek out the Pride. I heard it is only to be had from the winery, but well worth the price. We were served it by a friend who carted some back from a visit to the winery. As I said, I usually only drink the local sangioveses here in Texas, but that Pride is amazing stuff!!!

    Aug 09, 2010 at 12:27 AM


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