Sangiovese is one of my favorite grapes. I probably consume more Sangiovese than any other variety, though usually in the guise of chianti or rosso di Montalcino. This group of wine represents the true value plays in Tuscan Sangiovese. often blended, in proportions that makes these similar to chianti, these wines take advantage of the enormous vineyards that lay between, yet outside of the more famous appellations of the region. While I tend to be a purist, preferring sangiovese blended with indigenous varieties or on its own, it’s impossible to argue with the success of these wines. this is not a recent phenomenon, as evidenced by both eh Monte Antico and Barco reale, two classic Sangiovese blends that have relied upon small additions of international varieties for years, and with fabulous results.
At this price it’s often fiscally impossible to produce the kind of sangiovese that can stand on its own. those of us of a certain age can remember that Sangiovese from cheap Chianti of days gone past. Thin, shrill, terribly high acid, and barely palatable with light, astringent red fruits. If it weren’t for the straw covered fiasci, which we diligently used as candle holders, many of us might not have even bothered with those wines.
Today of course even cheap Sangiovese is better than it once was, but when cropped heavily, as sangiovese tends to want to do, the fruit just lacks concentration and depth, even if fully ripened. Adding in a well judged dose of cabernet or merlot can help fill out the midpalate and bring Sangiovese naturally high acids into balance. I prefer merlot to Cabernet for blending, finding that even modest amounts of Cabernet tend to dominate a wine, obscuring what Sangiovese brings to the blend. But still, the end results do speak for themselves.