Italy can boast a rich heritage of native vines, with hundreds of different varieties. However, the most iconic is definitely the Sangiovese, which covers just under a tenth of the area planted with vines (53,865 hectares out of 637,634). Sangiovese is grown almost everywhere, but has a very special place in Tuscany, forming the basis of the Region’s greatest wines: from Brunello di Montalcino to Nobile di Montepulciano, and from Morellino di Scansano to Chianti and Chianti Classico, the productive heartland of Castelli del Grevepesa wines.
Sangiovese is an essential part of the ‘grands crus’ of Chianti Classico, such as Panzano, Lamole, Campoli and Bibbione. However, this vine has many clonal varieties, each with its own characteristics, so it is difficult to pin down its precise organoleptic qualities. Nevertheless, with its distinctive tannins, Sangiovese finds its best expression in the unique elegance of Chianti Classico. But what are the origins of the Sangiovese vine?
It is hard to say as its many variants make it almost impossible to trace its origins. However, the first written reference is provided by that rich source, Gian Vettorio Soderini, who alludes to “Sangiogheto” in his book “The Cultivation of Vines” (1590). There are many more references after that, always in relation to Tuscan viticulture, but in 1875 the ‘Ampelographic Commission’ of Siena described Sangiovese as the most widely cultivated variety in Chianti, although continuing to call it Sangioveto. During this period, the same variety was referred to as Sangiovese in Romagna: a variation in the name that has now been lost. However, there have been dozens of studies into different Sangiovese clones over the last thirty years, in a bid to find the right one for each area.