Sangiovese Buying Guide

Great wine at modest price points





We are on a path, having yet to arrive at the final destination. For the moment, I am thoroughly enjoying the ride and these wines are only part of the reason. Check out some notes on my favorite 2009 and 2010 Sangiovese-based wines from Tuscany and surrounding provinces below!

2009 Castellare di Castellina Chianti Classico 13% $21

Nicely fruity on the nose with early notes of mulberry, black fruits and violet over some limestone notes. Rich, ripe yet transparent on the palate with lively, crisp tannins and an edge of austerity that underpins the mulberry, black raspberry and juniper/forest floor-toned palate. This finishes much more in the red fruit end of the spectrum with currant and cherry fruit lingering over a succulent, sandy soil driven base. Archetypal Chianti. 89pts

2009 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico 13% $19

Mineral and lean on the nose with dusty, earthy, slightly vegetal notes over peach and raspberry fruit. A touch soft on entry, this does show lovely balance with plenty of red cherry and raspberry fruit on the nicely sappy palate. The finish is bright and almost a touch salty with fine minerality and refreshing acidity. 88pts

2010 Marchesi di Frescobaldi Castiglioni Chianti 13% $13

Very nice on the nose, a veritable bowl of cherries with hints of flowers, almond, pear and almond adding detail. Rather large scaled at first, this fills the mouth with lovely fruit. A bit plummy at the edges but cherry to the core, with soft tannins and enough acid to add a bit of snap on the palate. There’s some gentle complexity here but this is all about finely presented fruit that follows through on a finish which retains a hint of fruit sweetness while showing the gentle austerity of ripe Sangiovese tannins. Lovely wine. 88pts

2010 Di Majo Norante Sangiovese Terre degli Osci IGT 13% $10

A little funky on the nose with lovely suggestions of dried orange peels, almond hulls, and beeswax over lightly toasty, chocolaty wild berry fruit. This is very well balanced in the mouth with lovely acidity that is very well integrated, lending this a bit of a blueberry character. There’s a fine bed of austere tannins, but the bright, fresh fruit keeps them fairly well covered. The finish turns slightly drying and shows good length with a briary note to the wild blueberry fruit. Nice little wine with good fruit and tension. 87pts

2009 Selvapiana Chianti Rufina 13.5% $16

A little funky on the nose with notes of rust, dried cow stall, ash, a little tobacco and fine strawberry fruit. Softish on entry and open knit, with a fine core of clear strawberry fruit. The finish is bright and refreshed with ripe acids. Overall a tad simple but very Chianti, shows pure strawberry fruit in a rustic style. 87pts

2010 Piccini Chianti DOCG 12.5% $10

Decidedly earthy with rather intense leather, beef, hickory, sage and cranberry aromas. Light and fresh in the mouth, this delivers bright cranberry and raspberry fruit supported by soft tannins and lively acids that really perk up the back end. The fruit takes on more of a cherry character before adding some stemmy herb tones and revealing a nice tannic bite on the finish, which is fairly long. Appealing old school Chianti. 87pts

2010 Melini Borghi d’Elsa Chianti 12.5% $8

Seems a bit dumb on the nose, showing some bitter almond and green strawberry notes. On the palate this is not the most expressive, but boy is it well balanced and lively without being lean. Round and smooth with simple cherry and strawberry fruits, delivered with nice richness and really attractive structural balance. This is absolutely gluggable, though it does gain some added richness with air and nice herbal, slightly stemmy top notes. The finish is grippy and a touch coarse, but with more than enough fruit to keep this very attractive. 87pts

2009 Poggiotondo Chianti Cerro del Masso 13% $16

Tightly floral on the nose with notes of violet and spice accenting a fruit-driven nose layered over wood spice. The oak shows a bit more nuttiness and oak with air. Smooth and fruity in the mouth in a fairly opulent style. This has nice acidity, helping to keep things lively, but has a certain sheen to it with wood tannins emerging on the short cocoa-tinged finish. 87pts

2010 Falesco Sangiovese Umbria IGT 13.5% $11

Tight on the nose with some earthy strawberry fruit and gentle woodsy and smoky top notes. This is really quite smooth on entry, though the minor tannins and integrated acidity help the wine pop on the mid-palate. There fruit shows fine depth, if in a slightly matte style, with a bit of a tea like, extracted feel. A bit rough and rich at the same time. The finish shows good intensity of black cherry skin fruit with decent length. 86pts

2010 Melini San Lorenzo Chianti 13% $10

Very nice notes of bitter almond and sage frame the core of lightly jammy red currant fruit. This is a bit soft in the mouth, quite fruity and rich in a very clean style. It’s a nice enough wine but I would like to see a bit more detail. Though the acid does rise through the fruit on the palate, it never really breaks through, lending this a slightly Lifesaver candied quality. Certainly easy to drink, and the fruit is nice with gentle tannins and a faint bitterness, but this is rather four square and simple. 86pts

2010 La Carraia Sangiovese Umbria IGT 13% $10

This smells very much of Cabernet, black currant and bell pepper on the nose. Once the Cabiness calms down, this shows a bit of earthiness, some tree bark tones and hard, black fruit. Rather soft in the mouth, this is broad and a bit chewy with bright black cherry and black currant fruit. There’s fine balance here and the wine is bright if a bit simple in the mouth. The fruit remains taut and fresh supported by small tannins on the modest finish. Muscular and dark. At this price, a good value. 85pts

2009 San Polo Rubio IGT 13.5% $14

A little reduced on the nose. Smells a bit Syrah-like, plenty of blackberry fruit here with some baked notes. In the mouth this is sweetly jammy with blackberry notes accented by a beefy quality and some lingering spice notes. Very smooth on entry and still very young with a taut feel to it. There’s a touch of vanilla here along with some blueberry on the back end, but the mid-palate feels a bit hollow at this stage. Not a bad bottle of wine, just not very Sangiovese-like. 84pts

2008 Dievole Dievolino Chianti 13% $11

Big stemmy tones on the nose and violet stems lending a rustic if floral quality here. There’s a touch of oak and a hint of mint as well, accenting the small black fruit aromatics. Very smooth in the mouth and quite voluptuous, this is a mouthful of dark if slightly anonymous fruit. The tannins stick out a bit dry and woody with notes of graphite and plum skin adding some detail through the finish, which shows flashes of black cherry fruit. 84pts

2010 Poggiotondo Rosso Toscana IGT 12.5% $14

Sangiovese 40% Merlot 30% Syrah 30%

Lots of sandalwood and a little cedar greet the nose followed by floral notes and small black fruits. This seems quite sweet from the wood, though it does show some nice talc notes balancing out the vanilla. Fairly rich on entry, this has good acidity and nice ripe tannins in the mouth, though the back end here seems a bit weighty and extracted. Some cut peach tones add detail to the black cherry fruited mid-palate, but the tannins clamp down on the back end and render the finish rather short and bitter. There is some nice fruit here, accented with herb and bitter almond, but the extraction makes this a bit matte. 83pts

2010 Stella Sangiovese Puglia IGT 12% $8

Young and a bit tanky on the nose, though sweet violet, cherry, and rose hip notes quickly emerge. This has fine acidity on entry and good buffering fruit. Though it remains rather lightweight, it does offer up plenty of simple, fresh cherry/raspberry fruit. There are some fine, dusty grape skin tannins here and this is rather perfumed in the mouth. The finish is short and a bit drying. A nice fruity, easy Sangiovese. 83pts

2010 Benedetto Chianti 13% $11

A bit fudgy on the nose and very ripe, this still shows a bit of roasted herb and a touch of oak, along with some bretty animal notes. Very ripe in the mouth delivering a big rush of cherry fruit, accented with spicy oak and a hint of vanilla. Nice acids here add brightness but the wood tannins are a bit assertive and lend the finish a chewy character. 83pts

2009 Castello Banfi Centine Toscana IGT
13.5% $11

Very youthful on the nose is all lightly creamy, spice wood and vanilla framed cut cherry/berry fruit that's topped with a nice violet note. A little light bodied at first, but this really has attractive black cherry and strawberry fruit wrapped in in soft tannins and fairly bright but integrated acidity. Fruity and simple with a touch of a chunky mid-palate that leads to a slight rustic finish. Mostly Sangiovese with enough Cabernet and Merlot to add richness though not enough to obscure the wines Tuscan roots. 87pts

2009 Benedetto Chianti 1
2.5% $11

This is earthy and dry on the nose with more than a whiff of oxidation. A very soil driven, earthy, leathery nose is nicely complex but decidedly old-school. In the mouth this is fine, still old school and not very complex though there are some nice mineral notes and a touch of blue fruit accenting the strawberry notes. Texturally this is actually quite appealing, very true to chianti with bristly little tannins and fine mouth washing acidity and while the fruit is a touch modest, this is a very typical mouthful of rustic Chianti finishing with good length and snap. 84pts

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Comments

  • Very nice selection of wines. I in particular like the 2009 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico 13% $19. I visited Badia a Coltibuono last year http://schiller-wine.blogspot.com/2... after having spent a couple of days with Gregory Dal Piaz at the EWBC 2011 in Brescia

    Mar 13, 2012 at 12:04 PM


  • Good selection here. There is no doubt that the liberalization of the Chianti Classico formula has led to some bigger, more full bodied wines, as individual producers experiment. Isole e Olena, Fattoria Felsina, Villa Cafaggio, Fontodi and Fonterutoli lead my list of bigger CCs. And, the Consorzio Chianti Classico has been very effective at promoting the brand within Tuscany. Even if you want a mid-weight or lighter style Classico, what a selection there now is! Embarrasment of riches. The range of styles with the Classico DOCG is enormous. In addition, I've noticed many more "basic" chiantis (i.e., made outside the classico district, or not following strict Consorzio or DOCG guidelines) that are bigger and bolder than they were 10 and 20 years ago. In some cases, they're effectively super-tuscans in drag.

    Mar 13, 2012 at 12:44 PM


  • As a novice in the world of wines I started with a Chianti and have dabbled in the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignons (Woodbridge is my favorite to date). I enjoy exploring new tastes, but hesitate to buy an expensive bottle least I do not find the taste appealing. Any suggestions for my next purchase?

    Mar 13, 2012 at 1:09 PM


  • Snooth User: gmolson
    367356 1

    Having just returned from a visit to Paris and dining in many levels of restarants, I am truly disappointed in California wines. They pale in comparison to French wines for over all taste and scent. AND, the sparkling wine California mass producers call champagne does begin to compare to the Champagne the French nurture to maturity. I say this, even though, I am a person who truly believes that America is one of the greatest nations! Oh, and the food was subtle and fine in the taste and smell also!

    Mar 13, 2012 at 2:35 PM


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