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Wine Glossary

Definition: Sangiovese

[san-joh-VAY-zeh] Sangiovese is one of the top two red grapes (the other being Nebbiolo) in Italy, where it's extensively planted-particularly in the central and southern regions. Sangiovese is Italy's most widely planted variety; it's planted in over 10 percent of all vineyards. It's believed to have originated in Tuscany where it dominates today. Sangiovese wines vary immensely depending on where the grapes are grown. Generally, Sangiovese wines have high acidity, moderate to high tannins, and medium alcohol levels. The flavors have a hint of earthiness and are usually not boldly fruity. Sangiovese wines are not deeply colored and often have a slightly orange tint around the edges. Most are not long-lived and will last for less than 10 years. Of the numerous strains of this grape, Sangiovese Grosso and Sangiovese Piccolo have taken the lead. One strain of Sangiovese Grosso is Brunello ("little dark one"), so named for the brown hue of its skin. It's the grape responsible for the potent and long-lived Brunello di Montalcino wines, which are made totally from this variety. Prugnolo is Montepulciano's local name for the Sangiovese Grosso grape, which produces the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wines. Though Sangiovese is the dominant grape in Italy's well-known Chianti wines, it must officially be blended with other varieties, including a percentage of white grapes. Fortunately, the maximum allowable Sangiovese went from 80 to 90 percent in 1984 and is now 100 percent, which allows Chianti wines to have a more robust character.

Source: Answers.com; Wine Lover's Companion - R & S Herbst

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