It’s that time of year again and there’s no better gift than the Vino Gift Card — whether for family, friends, or corporate gifts.
The Vino Gift Card is a pre-loaded Vino charge card and can be used for any and all of our more than 500 wines.
For more information or to order, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-965-VINO (8466).
Fri. & Sat., December 1-2
Gift Pack Tasting
FREE Fri., 5:30-7:30 – Sat. 4:30-6:30 @ Vino
This week’s tastings will feature a variety of wines from the Vino Gift Packs. Please stop by and taste the wines (and maybe even a Negroni!) with us.
Please note that the wines will vary on both days.
* * *
Sangiovese: Un’uva tutta toscana
Vino’s Wine Director Charles Scicolone is traveling in Italy for the next few weeks. Please check back soon for his Wine Opinion.
In 1839, when Count Giorgio Gallesio published the last installment of his landmark work La pomona italiana, a survey of Italy’s fruit trees and fruits, he had devoted an entire chapter to Uva Sangioveto. He was referring to a variety that we know today as Sangiovese, a grape used in some of Italy’s greatest and most collectible wines. (See his drawing of “Uva Sangioveto” right.)
“E’ un’uva tutta toscana,” wrote the Count. Sangioveto “is an utterly Tuscan grape. It is perhaps the most precious of grapes in this country, a land so dear to Bacchus.”
Today, Sangiovese is the most widely cultivated grape variety in Italy: more than 11% of the country’s acreage under vine is planted with Sangiovese and more than 30 DOCs use Sangiovese as the primary variety. The most famous appellations are, of course, Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Carmignano (Toscana), and Sangiovese di Romagna (Emilia-Romagna). But Sangiovese is also grown as far north as the Veneto, where it is used in Bardolino, and in the Marche along the Adriatic, where it is the primary grape used in Rosso Piceno. It is even planted — a surprise to many — in certain parts of Southern Italy.
The grape’s name most likely derives from a Tuscan dialectal term, sangiovannina, meaning a vine that buds early (perhaps akin to the Italian giovane or “young”). Others believe that the name refers to the giogo or “yoke” formed by the Apennine mountain range that separates Toscana and Romagna to the north. A more recent theory proposes the ancient Etruscan sanisve, a term that meant “father” or “ancestor,” possibly a reference to the “wine of the father” or master. (The folkloric etymology, sangue di Giove, or “blood of Jove,” has long been dismissed by Italian scholars.)
The earliest known mention of Sangiovese dates back to the late sixteenth century when agriculturist Gianvettorio Soderini praised Sangiogheto for its ability to produce copious amounts of wine. But it was not until the early eighteenth century that Sangiovese clearly emerged as a grape use for the production of superior wine. In a 1716 edict, Grand Duke of Toscana Cosimo III de’ Medici created Italy’s first officially sanctioned appellations, Carmignano and Chianti, among others. (Many believe erroneously that Cosimo was trying to protect winemakers in Chianti from imitators but the exact opposite is true: he owned vineyards in Carmignano.)
By the mid-nineteenth century, Italy’s Iron Baron, Bettino Ricasoli had already begun to make long-lived Sangiovese in Chianti Classico. And by the end of that century, the first Brunello di Montalcino would be produced, an appellation considered by many to be one of Sangiovese’s finest expressions.
For those of you who read our weekly newsletter, you know that Sangiovese is one of our wine director Charles Scicolone’s favorite grapes. He has often praised Sangiovese as the ideal “food wine”: while it makes for a tannic wine, it also has a bright acidity, thus making it perfect for a wide variety of foods. Charles also likes to remind us that, when grown at proper altitudes and vinified in the traditional manner, Sangiovese can age beautifully.
A few years ago, while in Chianti Rufina, Charles and owner Nicola Marzovilla discovered some traditional-style, barrel-aged, declassified Chianti from the 1979, 82, and 88 vintages. The Villa di Vetrice estate bottled the wine for us and we now sell it under their Grato Grati label. The 1988 paired perfectly with some wild boar stew that Chef Patrick Nuti served with creamy polenta the other night at I Trulli.
Whether you call it Sangioveto or Sangiovese, Sangiovese Grosso or Sangiovese Piccolo, Brunello or Prugnolo Gentile, Morellino or Uva Tosca (the different names and clones used across Italy are seemingly endless), there’s no denying that this grape has conquered the world. Just think of how many producers of Brunello appear in the myriad end-of-the-year “Top 100 Wine” lists. Italy had not yet been unified when Count Gallesio wrote his book (unification would come only a few short years after the last installment of his survey was published). If he were to revisit his work today, perhaps he would write: “Uva Sangioveto… un’uva tutta italiana.”
The wines below represent just a handful of the appellations where Sangiovese is used as the primary grape.
* * *
Featured Gift Pack: Nebbiolo 1996
The 1996 vintage in Piemonte is widely considered to be one of the greatest of the last century (it was first in a string of remarkable harvests, 1996-2001). Early on, devotees of Langhe wines hailed it as a vintage that would last upwards of 20 and 30 years.
This holiday season marks ten years that these wines have aged in cask and bottle and they are already beginning to show their power and elegance.
We have chosen three of our favorite expressions of Nebbiolo:
Barbaresco Ovello, one of the most famous crus produced by Produttori del Barbaresco; Barolo Massara, a single-vineyard Barolo from Castello di Verduno; and Ghemme Collis Carellae by Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo, another single-vineyard wine from the lesser known but equally powerful Ghemme appellation.
While these wines are beginning to show well, they will only continue to evolve (we recommend cellaring for 5-10 years).
includes gift box