Snooth Blog

Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz

Sangiovese GTi

Posted by Gregory Dal Piaz, Feb 9, 2009.

We had a great tasting last night and it focused on one of my favorite grapes, Sangiovese.



While not generally well disposed towards producing the flashy style of wine that quickly gets people's attention, the brisk acidity and slightly austere tannins of Sangiovese make it the most flexible food wine on my table. While we focused on California Sangiovese to a great extent, we started out with a few Italian examples that set the stage for what was to follow.



Of course Sangiovese is the grape, in various clonal incarnations, that is responsible for Chianti, Brunello, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and myriad Rossos from across Italy. While each clone has something different to offer and each terroir produces different results there are some characteristics that can be considered trademarks of the grape.

Aromas of herbs, leather, bitter almond and violets generally accompany the wild berry to dark cherry fruit of Sangiovese. That's not to say that Sangiovese is either simple or terribly consistent, it's not. It is prone to overproduction and many aromas can get easily washed away. It is also a fairly subtle wine.

The fact that Sangiovese tends to be subtle seems to have been lost on a generation of Italian winemakers, and now Californians, who seem to think that there is something wrong with the grape, or rather that it is lacking in one department or another. Historically, Chianti was a blend, having favorable additions of Mammolo for perfume and body, Colorino, well for color and Canaiolo that can add a bit of soft flesh and overt fruitiness to the blend.  Other, lesser grapes were historically added but more to maintain consistency or quantity year over year than to actually improve the final wine.

And then in the not too distant past came Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Merlot. Now Merlot is a fairly innocuous grape when added in moderation to Sangiovese it functions much as Canaiolo did and can certain add a voluptuousness to a blend without severely impacting the Sangioveseness of the blend. Just as an aside, Canaiolo is not particularly easy to grow and seems to not enjoy being grafted on to the American rootstocks that all producers now use so there is this practical implication as well spurring along the use of Merlot.

Cabernet Sauvignon on the other hand, well it is not a subtle grape, it is an obvious grape. Far too many producers had the brilliant idea of adding Cabernet to their Sangiovese in the crazily explosive Super Tuscan years of the 1980's and 1990's. The thing is, even 5% of Cabernet can over-power the aromatics of Sangiovese.  Now I'm not saying these wines were bad, they certainly found an audience. What I am saying however is that that audience was not Sangiovese's natural audience. These are the same people who, along with a few particular "professional" critics, created the market conditions that allowed the  who created the recently revealed crisis in Brunello to arise.



Brunello di Montalcino is one of Italy's flagship wines. They can be brilliant wines but being made from 100% sangiovese, in particular a clone called Brunello, they tend to have strong acids, astringent tannins, and less body than many other prestigious wines of the same importance. Well a producer or two decided, contrary to the law, that perhaps it would be a good idea to add some Merlot or Syrah to their Brunallo to add some flesh to the wine and round off some of the sharp edges.

It seemed to be a very effective course of action.  In  this point obsessed world we live in these doctored wines began to receive scores that placed them among the very best Brunello reviewed each year, which of course evolve into the most expensive. Of course they weren't Brunello and a "professional" critic might be expected to question how a producer can "adjust" a wine in just one vintage with such startling results. But then again the wines were good, better to complain about the shrillness of the other wines than investigate the new fleshiness of these great wines. Right?

Well, maybe not.  The truth is, due to space considerations and the necessity of including all the samples that were submitted for these tastings I only was able to sneak in a smattering of Chianti. No Vino Nobile, Brunello, or Rossos, they will have to wait for the next round.  But even from the carefully chosen selection of Chianti producers I assembled there are glimpses of the tendency to think bigger is better, certainly not necessarily the case. At least for me.

I may not be the ideal candidate to judge these wines. I come to the table with preconceived notions and expectations. I expect Sangiovese to be richly fruited but earthy, slightly bitter, with mineral and herb components to its fairly complex taste. The acidity should be vivid, the tannins moderate but with a bit of an austere bite. I don’t think this is asking for too much. Is it? Well in many cases it would appear so.

Ok perhaps that is a reach. I am predisposed to enjoy the Chianti in these line-ups; for the most part I selected them.  Perhaps I am railing against an apparition from the past, a memory or echo of painful experiences suffered at the hands of international “flying winemakers” or carefully crafted marketing measures cannily packaged in fancy bottles. Whatever it is or was I did not and do not like it.



One refreshing thing I learned from trying these 25 wines, a horribly corked bottle of the otherwise brilliant and eminently satisfying 2005 Selvapiana Chinati RufinaRiserva Bucerchiale was the extra bottle which incidentally is my favorite Chianti year in and year out, is that where California has followed the model that less is more in the case of Sangiovese they have succeeded far beyond my expectations.

It must be even more difficult to practice this model in California where the high acid and naturally transparent character of the grape is so temptingly “improved” by the concentration afforded by (super)ripeness! Well when the grape is harvested at reasonable ripeness and produced with minimal interference the grape fairly screams in success.

I would have to say the jury is still out on some of the more ambitious attempts with the grape in this country and there are winemakers who would be better off working with a grape that naturally produces the results they are trying to achieve. Super-ripeness tends to obscure, not enhance varietal character so producing this style with Sangiovese only has the advantage of retaining decent natural acidity but all the unique character, and appeal, of the grape is lost in the wave of sweet, silky fruit that results.

The results below are from two distinct tastings. Due to a technical glitch the photos and images from the first tasting have been lost but the results speak for themselves. Sangiovese is alive in and well, and splitting its time between Italy and the US. If you can remember the 1989 Atlas Peak Sangiovese, I certainly can, you might find that statement shocking but the proof is in the pudding, or in this case the Speiglau.



Sangiovese Panel Tasting Program - Session 1

1-    Me
2-     Cheryl - Wine Enthusiast
3-    Paul - Wine Professional
4-    Eddie - Eddie Professional
5-    Eva - Wine Enthusiast
6-    Evan - Wine Enthusiast
7-    Toni - Wine Enthusiast

Flight 1 Chianti

1-    2006 Borgianni  Chianti 12.5% - $12
Groups #10 my #10
This is a simple, highly acidic and lean wine that met with minimal approval from Toni who said, “ This gave me nothing. I kept waiting for something to show up, I gave up. It’s a nothing wine” a sentiment shared by Cheryl who added “ I thought there would be sweet fruit after the artificial cherry nose but it was green on the midpalate and OK at best.”  Paul found the wine to be “ simple and young…seems like a correct, basic Tuesday night Pizza wine.”  That seems about right, very basic.

2-    2005 Volpaia Chianti Classico 13% $20
Groups #7 my #7
With this wine we moved up a level in the Chianti hierarchy and found more to like.  Eddie enjoyed the “ smoky fruit, mouth puckering mid-palate and mellow finish”  and while Paul also noted the “ black cherry and leather” qualities of the wine he also felt it was ‘ too tannic for today and pretty darn short.”  Both Cheryl and Eva found the wine’s “green” element and tannins to be off-putting with Eva adding “ the finish was short and there was not much to balance out the rough tannins.” A bit of a tough wine, even for me, and in need of some food but still  fairly typical.

3-    2003 Castel’in Villa Chianti Classico 13.5%  $20
Groups #5 my #6
This wine was a little more divisive with Cheryl finding more negatives than positives with the “acetone on the nose, alcohol in the mouth and not enough sweet fruit” while Paul went even further adding “ it’s poorly balanced, astringent and bitter.” Eva on the other hand found this to be “ fragrant and delicious smelling with a smooth mouthfeel and nice red strawberry fruits.” Toni felt that “ the longer this sat in the glass the better it was and while it’s not a bad wine it’s felt like a $10 wine.” I though this was pretty good with an attractive flavor profile but it lacked freshness and energy in the mouth.

Flight 2 - Other styles of 2006 Sangiovese



4-    2006 Nespoli Sangiovese di Romagna 13%
Groups # 6 my #4
Here we are playing in a different league with Eddie noting “ for the first time I can use the term fruity with these wines!” Evan felt that while good, “ there was not a lot of forward fruit, a little bit of cherry but well balanced.” Cheryl was also a bit lukewarm noting “ candied fruit on the nose, lots of acidity, good cherry fruit, it was OK” Eva also was less complimentary finding the wine “ sharp, tart, high acid, and astringent.” And just to be perfectly clear added “Yuck. I didn’t like this.” I really enjoyed the pure fruit here and found this to very varietally correct and delicious.

5-    2006 Perrucci Santa Cruz Mtn Sangiovese “Family Selection” 13.5% $28
Groups # 2 my # 3
Our first domestic example elicited results ranging from Cheryl’s “ I love it. It’s fantastic. A little bit dirty on the nose, it gives me the idea of France but with sweet fruit!”  Paul just may have been agreeing when he added, “It’s the epitome of modern wine, it could come from anywhere.” But added that he did “enjoy its herbs on the nose, woodsy, rosemary kind of herb with black cherry, cedar and chocolate on the palate.”  For Toni this was simply too much of a good thing as she felt this had “strawberry to the point of it smelling like a dessert wines, extremely fruity, too much fluff, too many berries.”  While not my style this had a lot going on. There was a touch of brett that helped break up the masses of sweet fruit and while a bit of this is fun to drink a bottle would quickly grow tiring for me.

6-     2006 Moris Farms Morellino di Scansano  14% $18
Groups # 9 my # 9
This usually dependable wine was a bit of a let down as Paul characterized by saying “ there was nothing there, it lacked concentration, aromas and didn’t have enough flavor.”  Eva “liked the way this smells, dark fruit and a little hint of floral but it’s flat in the mouth, no fruitiness, overall it’s ok.” Evan also “really liked the nose with it’s dark, smoky, candied fruit” but felt “ the flavors didn’t match the nose, it’s very subtle but overall I liked it.” I was not impressed by this vintage, it was certainly correct but really felt like a minor wine or as Toni put it “ this brought me back to my basement when my father drank this wine. Very 1960’s-70’s old world stuff.



Flight 3 - California’s Sangiovese terroir?

7-     2005 Pietra Santa Cienega Valley 15.1% $18
Groups # 8 my # 5
Cheryl started us off with a rather exclamatory “ This is the worst wine in the world!” Which she followed up with “ It tastes better than it smells, nice with dark sweet chocolate notes but the nose turned me off.” Paul on the other hand found the nose to be “ pretty complex for such a ripe wine with lots of briar, pipe tobacco and lots of spice.” He felt it was a very powerful modern wine but it feels like the old world trying to be modern.” Eva caught “ herbs really sage bushy” on the nose and added ‘ I really like this a lot, it’s really interesting.” This is an interesting wine to say the least. Incredibly rich and dense yet packed with fine green herbal notes as well. It really rides a knife’s edge and while intense an in a very specific idiom it is intriguing and evolves in the glass. Worth following. Tasted several times with consistent results.

8-    2005 Martin & Weyrich Il Palio - Paso Robles  14.3% $15
Groups # 1 my #1
Toni enjoyed her” initial reaction was tobacco, earth and herbs. This is a bold wine that felt subtle at first with smooth fruit, then acidity hit me, and hit me, and hit me.” Evan also found fault with this wine noting it’s “subtle on the nose, it felt flat in the mouth and tasted of pear on the aftertaste. It’s not my style.” Eddie found “ sweet, dark fruit and a little tobacco on the nose..” and felt this was “ very well balanced, fresh and classic in a straight forward and honest way.” Cheryl agreed noting, “ this is smooth with a lovely mouthfeel. I really enjoy this, with or without food, I love how it tastes.” I couldn’t agree more. A simply delightful, pure, vivacious bottle of Sangiovese at a value price. An eye-opening surprise.

9-    2004 Deerfield Sonoma County  14.6% $25
Groups #11 my #11
Eddie was this wine biggest proponent finding it “ unique and funky with salt and red licorice on both the nose and palate. Toni was ambivalent finding “ a bit of vanilla at first then I felt something was off. It tastes smooth and subtle but it wanted to be something but it missed the target.” Evan “didn’t enjoy this at all, its rasiny and has a sherry nose.” Paul was right to he point “ this is flawed and undrinkable, I didn’t want to smell it after the first whiff.” Cheryl then bid up a unit by adding “ this is the Mollydooker or Kosta Brown of Sangiovese. It’s too sweet even for me!” This bottle was a mess, no doubt. Another bottle described below showed better but be prepared for heat, sweetness, and innocuous dark fruit.



Flight 4 - Modern Sangiovese

10-    2005 Stolpman Santa Ynez - 14.9% $28
Groups # 4 my # 8
Toni found this to be “ very ripe, with rich fruit and rich spice on the nose but it suddenly disappeared. The taste is very light, very cherry like and very smooth. While this is very drinkable I can’t see it with food but I like it a lot.” Eva also noted the “very subtle nose” and enjoyed the balance of “ minerality, sharp and astringent against the sweet fruit.” Paul found this to be “ kind of over-ripe with roasted black cherry on the nose. It’s very sweet in the mouth, it needs acidity to cut down the over-powering sweetness.” While very modern and woody this did have fine Sangiovese character in a rich, soft package that has broad appeal.

11-    2004 Marleo Salustri Montecucco Rosso 13.5% $24
Groups #12 my #12
This bottle sucked. I’m not completely convinced that it was atypical; another bottle was about as bad. Cheryl “bad” Paul “I liked it less and less” Eddie weak” Eva “ dried fig and raisin” Evan “off nose off flavors” Toni “hated it.” Yup yup.

12-    2006 Miner Gibson Ranch Mendocino 14.1% $24
Groups # 3 my #2
Evan found “rich blackberry and spices on the nose with leathery dark fruits. I liked the acidity and astringency of this wine>’ Eddie thought this offered “ sweet/tart fruit with much new oak adding a lot of tannins finishing firm and dry with Indian spices.” Paul noted that this was “ really powerful with a lot going on, spicy dark fruit, well balanced, this wine gets an A.” Cheryl felt that “ageing this might be the right thing to do, it’s short and flat in the mouth with drying tannins, while fine it’s not my favorite.” This was certainly the densest, most structured wine of the night and should benefit from cellaring and while a fine bottle it lacks some Sangiovese typicity.

The following week we sat down with another group to taste another lineup of Sangiovese



1- Me
2 -  Allen - Wine Enthusiast
3 -  Eddie - Wine Professional
4 -  Justin - Wine Professional
5 -  Stu - Wine Professional
6 - Eric - Wine Enthusiast
7 -  Dave - Wine Enthusiast

Flight 1

1 -2005 Cosentino Il Chiaretto California 14.8% $18 87pts
2 - 2006 Ruffino Santedame Chianti Classico 13.5% $18
3 - 2007 Flora Springs Napa Valley 14.2% $15

Flight 2

4 - 2004 Podere il Palazzino La Pieve Chianti Classico 14% $20
5 - 2005 Ruffino Riserva Ducale Tan label 14% $22
6 - 2006 Pope Valley Winery Napa Valley 14% $18

Flight 3

7 - 2004 Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva 14% $20
8 - 2004 Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva 13.5% $30
9 - 2004 Castellare Chianti Classico Riserva 13.5% $35

Flight 4

10 - 2005 Kuleto Estate Napa Valley 14.8% $20
11 - 2004 Deerfield Sonoma 14,6% $25
12 - 2006 The Midlife Crisis Winery Paso Robles  16.6% $20



Flight 1

1 -2005 Cosentino Il Chiaretto California 14.8% $18
Group’s 7th, my 8th
We started off with a solid wine that Eddie found to be “pleasant on the nose with cherry fruit and a touch of spice and red licorice” on the palate. Both Dave and Stu felt this showed a little Merlot like character with Stu commenting on the wine’s “cocoa powder, leather and spice notes”. Justin found the wine to be “ soft with sour cherry fruit, sandalwood and allspice…light and pleasant.” I tend to agree though the alcohol was a bit much here and gave the wine a disjointed feel.

2 - 2006 Ruffino Santedame Chianti Classico 13.5% $18
Group’s 8th, my 7th
Eric felt this “smelled very tightly wound and herby with some cherry notes very nice acids with raspberry fruit” but he also commented on the “little bitter on the long finish.” Justin found this to be “ a touch tannic… with black cherry and earth notes but it’s trying to do more than what was there, nice acidity though.”  Stu was more complementary noting the wine’s “ vivid and dense” feel and  “rich chocolate” notes but felt the “good amount of oak and drying tannins left a lingering bitterness on finish” All in all this was a solid showing for a solid wine that could use a bit more finesse

3 - 2007 Flora Springs Napa Valley 14.2% $15
Group’s 1st, my 4th
Justin -found “ a woodsy note like fresh cut grass” on the nose here and noted the wine had  “ good depth and concentration to the strawberry fruit. It’s a little tannic on the finish. Dave found the nose to be “cranberry, candy” with Notes of “ cologne, manure and cedar” and noted the wines “earthy minerality” on the palate. Eddie, on the other hand, found “cherries with a touch of oak” on the nose and felt the wine was “ medium bodied, tannic with decent fruit and a dry tart finish.” I loved this wine. It’s a bowl of unwashed freshly foraged wild strawberries and while fruit driven is just a joy to drink.



Flight 2

4 - 2004 Podere il Palazzino La Pieve Chianti Classico 14% $20
Group’s 5th, my 5th
Eric commented on this wine’s “ cheese rind, moldy” noted which was a consensus feature of this wine but found nice “ cherries and mineral, notes with some plum on the finish” Stu felt the funk was more “ barnyard and  wet forest,” and felt this was “ Burgundian styled” with a “smooth, silky mouthfeel, pretty sweet and ripe, but hot on the finish.”  Dave felt the funk was more like “manure and rubber” but found  “black berries and smoke” on the palate whish had  “big pucker factor” I found this to be a simple if solid bottle that would be a safe bet on a restaurant list.

5 - 2005 Ruffino Riserva Ducale Tan label 14% $22
Group’s 9th, my 9th
Sometimes a blind tasting reveals the truth about a wine, like in this case. This very popular wine had a “seductive and alluring nose” according to Eddie with  “dark cherries on the palate” but he also found the wine to be “ soft and short finish” Justin felt the flavors were a bit blurred with cherry cola notes… with a nice round mouthfeel, but no mid-palate or finish” Stu also enjoyed the “rich licorice, cherry coke, cola” but felt the wine’s “finish had a greenness that popped up then dropped away leaving this heavy and rough in the mouth.” For me this was a decent wine but it felt as though it could have been better. It had a little of everything it needed but enough on nothing.

6 - 2006 Pope Valley Winery Napa Valley 14% $18
Group’s 2nd, my 3rd
Justin found a “dust and old furniture” quality on the nose and “earthiness on the palate” that was appealing and felt this finished with  “ good acidity with wild berry and sour cherry fruits.  Stu also found “ berry sour cherry, candied, bright fruit” in this wine and felt that while this exhibited a  “liberal use of wood and vanilla “ he enjoyed the “pretty soft yet dense” feel of this wine. Interestingly Eric thought this resembled a  “modern style Dolcetto” with its “toasty blackberry, cedar, sour cherry vanilla” profile.  I thought this was just a great wine that spoke a little bit about Sangiovese, perhaps more about California but was so well made I really didn’t care.



Flight 3

7 - 2004 Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva 14% $20
Group’s 3rd, my 1st
Allen enjoyed this wine’s  “earthy quality with an interesting bit of wood and licorice” and felt the wine had a “long finish that lingers quite a bit.” Eddie enjoyed the wine’s “soft and smoky fruit with peppered meats” and found it to be
well balanced with subtle fruit” Dave also commented on the “smoked meats” on the nose along with “barnyard, violets and ripe fruits” and enjoyed the “nice balance of acid and tannin” on the palate.  This traditional Chianti was coy, earthy, complex and totally compelling. A brilliant wine and a great value!

8 - 2004 Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva 13.5% $30
Group’s 10th, my 10th
I don’t know what the deal is with this wine. All 3 bottles I’ve had have been tainted and this was noticed by everyone and well described by Justin, as “chemical, rotten vegetable” Nonetheless there’s a lot to like here though in a rather modern idiom with almost everyone picking up notes of cola and root beer. Another popular descriptor mentioned by Eddie, Stu and Eric was cherry or red licorice. So far not a particularly typical set of descriptors for Sangiovese that really should not be an issue but along with the funk this sweet candied character did not a great Chianti experience make.

9 - 2004 Castellare Chianti Classico Riserva 13.5% $35
Group’s 4th, my 2nd
Stu found a touch of “ farm and blackberry” on the nose but enjoyed this wines  “very ripe fruits and pretty deep flavors” though he did note it was “lacking acidity.”
Justin on the other hand found this to have “good weight and intensity with fine grained tannins” and while it may be “a bit monolithic” it was still “pretty good”
Eric found a lot on the nose here picking up “ oak, green veggies, wet fur, black berries and raw beef” and enjoyed the notes of “ black berry, green pepper and orange rind” on the palate. A solid showing and good reception for a slightly abrasive, slightly closed yet fine Chinati.



Flight 4

10 - 2005 Kuleto Estate Napa Valley 14.8% $20
Group’s 6th, my 6th
Eddie noted “ripe sweet fruit with salty olives and oak” on the nose of this Sangiovese/Cabernet blend. Eric also found “olive leaf” along with “sweet blackberry licorice, dry flower and tobacco.” He found the wine to be “very mouth filling with jammy black currant fruit.” Allen enjoyed the wines “long finish with a hint of licorice” but also commented that the wine was “a little dry if well balanced.”
Dave probably enjoyed this most finding it to have a “plush nose of super ripe cherry, vanilla and barnyard with intensely ripe fruit flavors.” A big bruiser of a wine, this certainly had it’s merits and was a wine that I could see improving.

11 - 2004 Deerfield Sonoma 14,6% $25
Group’s 11th, my 12th
Dave thought this smelled of “ cough syrup with a really funky nose with a vinegar edge” and like many added that it  “tastes fortified.” Allen called it “syrupy and a little alcoholic” Eddie also felt this had a “funky nose” with “sweet oxidized fruit and coconut.” Justin thought this was “velvety polished, very smooth” but as Eric added “it has a long but tiring finish.” Stu concurred finding a “fortified quality” to the wine making it  “feel like a port, with sour cherry, medicinal cough syrup flavors” and a  “really sweet finish.”  A strange bird indeed. Not sure what the intent was with this wine but the results speak for themselves.

12 - 2006 The Midlife Crisis Winery Paso Robles  16.6% $20
Group’s 12th, my 11th
Justin called this simple “fruitcake” and noted that it was “very full bodied and a bit low in acid.” Eddie agreed calling it a “low acid fruit bomb with high residual sugar and zinfandel like boysenberry fruit.” Allen felt it was more “blackberry” toned but also noted the wine’s ‘sweet finish.” Eric chimed in agreeing that the finish was “a little cloying” and noted that this smelled “ like a dessert wine with honeysuckle, almond, clove, brown sugar and mulling spice.”  Another well made wine that really didn’t speak much of grape or origin. And the exceptionally high alcohol was noted by every taster, and not in a good way.

And that is that. Two weeks of blind tasting’s focusing on Sangiovese. We had one corked bottle.



Gregory Dal Piaz is the Community Manager at Snooth , an avid Wine Geek with a passion for things Italian, and a long suffering Mets fan.

Replies

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Reply by Dale Kick, Feb 10, 2009.

Help,
I'm a retailer with customers who want to purchase wines labeled Sangiovese. They want to try products that would retail in the $10 a bottle range. Is there a label that you might recommend that is available in the Minnesota market? I would apreciate any advice. Thank You.

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Reply by Laurapal, Nov 17, 2009.

This looks like a great tasting! Viva Sangiovese!

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Reply by Eric Guido, Nov 17, 2009.

Wow, that brought back some memories. Somehow I missed this when Greg originally posted it. That was a good night. Extremely eye opening to the world of Sangiovese. If I recall, Dave and I topped it off with some pretty good Burgers afterward. Good memories.

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Reply by spmommy2, Dec 31, 2009.

I am a Sangiovese lover as well....but I can't put it on my table every night unless you show some bottles under the $10 range! I just know they have to be out there....

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Reply by dmcker, Dec 31, 2009.

Definitely a yummy-looking tasting. Was wondering, though, if drinking sangiovese promoted the growth of facial hair. This observation from someone who's had a goat for the past dozen years and who's also been drinking sangiovese all the while. The photos made me curious... ;-)

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Reply by cigarman168, Jan 1, 2010.

First time I learn wines from California that made of Sangiovese. Recently I taste some Burnello from Italy and it is definitely different style from French wines.

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 1, 2010.

Oh yeah, cigarman, very different. Did you like them? How many different wines have you had from Tuscany, and how do you like them compared to, say, the Piedmont (Barolo, Barbaresco, etc.)?

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Reply by cigarman168, Jan 1, 2010.

Of course I like them and it is good to go with food. But when compare with aroma, complexcity, French wines definitely has its own style. I would say Barolo is more acidity, more stronger than Burnello. Of course, I must admit that I am not a pros for Italy wines. IMHO.

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Reply by rhill2990, Jan 1, 2010.

Thank you very much for this article. I have just tried my first Sangiovese. I am looking forward to exploring this varietal. Italian wines are really unknown to me for the most part. I really enjoyed the one bottle of sangiovese that I tried. I will be using this article as a part of a future buying guide. Thanks again.

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Reply by Eric Guido, Jan 1, 2010.

spmommy2, the Monsanto mentioned in this article is about $17 but well worth the upgrade from the $10 range. I find the $15+ range to be my comfort zone for Chianti.

dmcker, I think you might be right, I was looking especially shaggy that evening.

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Reply by napagirl68, Feb 13, 2010.

Wish you had tasted some Shenandoah/Amador Valley (CA) Sangio..

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Reply by napagirl68, Feb 13, 2010.

Flora Springs is very popular here in California... no suprise it was group's fav.....

Great blog! LOVED IT!

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Reply by cetamura, Apr 14, 2010.

I live in Chianti, a retired winemaker, and I'm not surprised at the panel's findings ( apart from the California ones which I don't know). Most of those wines you chose were from large companies more bent on marketing large quantities than producing good wines. Your best, Monsanto, is a good wine but once again not typical of Chianti as it is made in the low areas on the very fringes of the area (or should I say, some of the areas that were included for political reasons). I doubt that you could have had the best Sangiovese experience of old with any of these.

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 14, 2010.

Cetamura, so what producers would you have recommended for inclusion in the tasting?

 

And weren't there some photos in the original post before?

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Reply by cetamura, Apr 14, 2010.

Some of the producers are large but good e.g. Castell'in villa (but why use an older vintage? it's unfair). Sangiovese is a very variable variety and vintage in those areas are still VERY important. Sangiovese-based Chianti was not a wine for aging. It was to be drunk within a few years but after a little aging to smooth its rough edges. I cannot recommend any in particular because1) they're probably not easily available in the US and 2) the same producer's quality can greatly vary from year to year. For people who look for richer experiences I can recommend the Rufina wines, however. I always wondered why they still stick with the " Chianti" label when they would be much better off on their own... 

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 14, 2010.

Go ahead and recommend the wines you like, wihout worrying if they're available in the US. Not all of us are based there, and many travel to Italy....

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Reply by slightlycorked, Apr 14, 2010.

Cool tasting, Monsanto and Castellare are two of my favorite producers. Intersting selection of CA Sangiovese! Cal-Itals get a bad rap ever since some wineries overplanted Sangiovese in the 80's and 90's  - trying to make it the "next merlot".  Cool to see you took the time to seek out some of the small aritisan producers giving the grape a proper home in the New World.  Have you ever tried a Sangiovese from Seghesio?  Oldest grower of Sangiovese in CA; They make three different Sangiovese and a Cab/Sangio blend.  All sourced from section of  N. Alex. Valley which was called Chianti until the early 1900's. Alberto Antonini (Gaja, Tignignello) consults on their Italian Varietals. Killer wines of depth and ballance.

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Reply by cetamura, Apr 14, 2010.

Well, a few from my area that come to my mind ( but there are plenty others) and that I normally like ( in no order). Big estates: Castell'invilla, Lilliano, Calcinaia,Lilliano, Fontodi, Verrazzano, Cacchiano, Monsanto, Rocca di Castagnoli ( but for their Cab and, especially their wondeful Chardonnay but that's another story).

Small ones: Casanuova di Ama, Monteraponi, Antinora, San Donatino, etc.

 As I said don't expect all vintages to be tops. And don't go for old vintages, chances are you'll be disappointed.

A more interesting list would be of the ones to avoid, but I'm not going to post it :-)

20
5981
Reply by dmcker, Apr 14, 2010.

Cetamura, thanks. Any vintage recommendations you can add? Here are two other threads where people with local knowledge have weighed in, and your reaction would be interesting.

Good Chiantis

Good Brunellos and other reds from Montalcino

And why no blacklist? Lists to avoid are often more useful than lists of the better vineyards, when those don't happen to be available.


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