Sangiovese is the most-planted wine grape in Italy. Here in Washington, the rich red wine grape plays a niche role.
Sangiovese is famous in Tuscany, particularly in Chianti Classico, as well as the hill towns of Montalcino and Montepulciano. When you buy a bottle of Chianti, Brunello or Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, most or all of the grapes are Sangiovese.
It tends to be lighter in color and brighter in flavors, including cherry, pomegranate and cranberry notes. Sangiovese is perhaps best noted for its acidity, a structure that is perfect for classic Italian dishes such as spaghetti carbonara, lasagna or manicotti.
When the Old World began to blend with the New, particularly in California, Italian immigrants brought their favorite grape varieties with them, including Sangiovese. For the most part, Sangiovese has struggled to gain any kind of traction. In Washington, perhaps 1,200 tons of Sangiovese is harvested annually, out of 227,000 tons for all varieties. That’s enough to make 75,000 cases.
A large amount of Washington Sangiovese is used to make delicious rosés, particularly from Barnard Griffin in Richland, which makes more than 11,000 cases of it per vintage. We’re also seeing a growing number of producers who are crafting sleek, bright, rich, full-bodied Sangioveses.
Here are several examples of Washington Sangioveses we’ve tasted recently.