Surprising even to myself, these groups of wine, while stylistically very different, were qualitatively pretty equal. Yes you can get great Sangiovese in Italy, but you can get great Sangiovese in California as well.
In fact, I’ll go out on a limb here and say that California Sangiovese is as good an imported grape as California is capable of producing!
Photo courtesy boo_licious via Flickr/CC
The reason why is actually pretty simple. It’s a combination of the weather, vineyard selections and clones. Truth be told, clonal selection has only become a hot topic in Italy over the past two decades. Before that, most people selected Sangiovese clones for yield, volume and vigor. That made for some crappy wine, and actually a lot of it, literally.
With all those crappy clones out there, it’s not surprising that crappy wine was made. Thus the reputation for the thin, shrill Chianti was born. There is still an unfortunate amount of rather thin and shrill Chianti out there, but less and less each year. All those studies on clones have allowed wineries to produce every richer, denser and sometimes better wines, not only in Italy but around the world.