Mention Sangiovese and most wine lovers will think of Tuscany -- Sangiovese is after all the backbone of Tuscany's best known wines, including Chianti in its many guises, Brunello di Montalcino and Nobile di Montepulciano, as well as a host of lesser known (but not necessarily inferior) Tuscan wines including Carmignano, Morellino di Scansano, and Montecucco.
There is however another side to Sangiovese, and that is Sangiovese di Romagna: the wine is made grape in the valleys of the Appennini from eastern border of the Province of Bologna all the way to Rimini, where the vineyards overlook the sea. A great many wine lovers tend to look down their noses at this Sangiovese because they associate it with cooperatives that in the past were much, much more interested in cranking out quantity than quality, but what they don't know is that while the cooperatives were cranking out their volume, others were farming to considerably smaller yields, and their Sangiovese di Romagna was being selected for state banquets -- both Ronald Regan and Bill Clinton enjoyed it.
In short, quality Sangiovese di Romagna has a long history.
And Sangiovese di Romagna is associated with Tuscany in another way too: following the devastation brought by the phylloxera bug more than a century ago Angelo Sansoni, a Romagnan innestatore (grafter) known as Esciop, the gun, because of the quickness of his hands, replanted vineyard after vineyard in Romagna, and also worked extensively in both Chianti Rufina and Chianti Classico, planting cartload after cartload of Sangiovese vines he brought with him from Romagna.
This was of course several generations ago and by now has faded from memory. However, if the vines gave good results they, or cuttings propagated from them, are still there. In short, the pedigree of some of the finest Tuscan Sangiovese vines may not be as Tuscan as we think it is. Not that this means much; Sangiovese as a varietal is extremely sensitive to terroir, giving very different results in different settings, and what is growing well in Tuscany is doing justice to its terror.
We began with 6 Tuscan wines
Bibi Graetz Testamatta Rosso Toscana IGT 2007
This is barrel fermented in upright barriques whose tops were removed. Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and slight almandine in the rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with brash cherry fruit supported by some cedar and bright greenish accents, some graphite shavings bitterness, and as it opens licorice root On the palate it's fairly rich, with cherry fruit supported by graphite shaving bitterness and a fair amount of cedar, with some savory underpinning. Quite concentrated, and quite international in style. If you like the style you will enjoy it, considerably, but you have to like the international style. Very young yet.
Savignola Paolina Chainti Classico DOCG Riserva 2007
From Greve in Chianti
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is muted at first swish, though more brings up strawberry fruit supported by berry fruit acidity and by some greenish heather and cut field in the summer, supported by fairly bright berry fruit acidity some sourness with as it opens old leather. . On the palate it's bright, and deft, with lively sour cherry fruit supported by fairly bright sour berry fruit acidity, and by tannins that are slightly brambly, and have a slight burr, flowing into a clean slightly bitter cedar laced finish. Pleasant, in a bright traditional key, and a very fine food wine that will work wonders with a steak or roast. It will age nicely 3-6 years.
Villa Vignamaggio Chianti Classico DOCG 2007
From Greve in Chianti
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with cherry fruit laced with licorice root and spice, also some menthol, slight carob, and some licorice root. Pleasant. On the palate it's bright, with rich plum cherry fruit supported by deft slightly mineral acidity, and by tannins that are smooth and fairly sweet, though they do gain definition from a slight burr, and flow into a clean bright brambly finish with some greenish vegetal accents. Quite pleasant, and will work very well with foods; it is also fairly young, and will age well for at least 5-8 years.
Castello di Monsanto Fabrizio Bianchi Sangiovese Rosso Toscana IGT 2006
From Barberino Val D'Elsa
Deep almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with brambly notes and fairly intense savory accents, and also slight animal tang; it's interesting and pleasingly savory in a decidedly traditional slightly rustic key. Pleasant. On the palate it's rich and full, with bright sour cherry fruit supported by savory notes and sour cherry acidity, while the tannins are quite smooth and flow into a fairly long slightly jammy sour cherry finish. Very pleasant, more on the palate than the nose, which is nice but a little less interesting. In its defense it is young, and this reticence is a characteristic of the vintage; it has great potential and if the nose follows the palate (as I expect it to) it will do great things, and age for 15-20 years.
Castello di Querceto La Corte Colli della Toscana Centrale IGT 2006
From Greve in Chianti
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with berry fruit supported by mentholated accents and some spice, and also bramble with slight animal tang and underlying balsamic accents. Interesting in a pleasingly traditional key, though there is also some cedar to it. On the palate it's powerful, with rich cherry fruit supported by savory tannins that have a cedar laced underpinning, and flow into a clean rather tannic finish with a fair amount of cedar. It's powerful, and displays more cedar than I expected on the palate; the wine is fairly strongly oaked and a bit astringent, and this is a characteristic of the 2006 vintage in some wines. It has potential but needs time, 3-5 years, for the tannins to fold in and absorb the oak.
Fattoria Selvapiana Chianti Rufina DOCG Riserva Bucerchiale 1996
Deep almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is deft and savory, with tamarind laced sour berry fruit supported by balsamic accents and some leaf tobacco, also brambles and warmth. Quite pleasant and beautifully mature. On the palate it's deft, with bright sour cherry fruit supported by savory accents and sea salt, and tannins that have a slight balsamic burr and flow into a clean sour cherry finish with a pleasant mineral underpinning. Very nice, and stands apart from all the other wines thanks to its age; time has been very good to it and it's one of those wines one meets with occasionally, and treasures when one does.
Next, wines from Romagna:
Romandiola Sangiovese di Romagna DOC 2010
The only wine of the tasting from a cooperative. Cherry ruby with black reflections. The bouquet is fairly fresh, with berry fruit and brambly accents, spice, some greenish notes, heather, some spice. Fresh. On the palate it's fairly bright, with graphite laced berry fruit supported by savory notes, some slightly cedary tannins, and a fairly savory finish with slight minerality. A classic food wine of the sort one sets out and drinks, and that will go quickly. Simple, direct, and up front. The sort of wine one can drink by the bucket. Distinct from all the others in terms of lively freshness and youth.
Villa Venti Sangiovese di Romagna DOC Superiore Primo Segno 2008
All in steel, no wood. Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is fairly intense and rather balsamic with savory accents, spice, some sour berry fruit and some greenish accents. On the palate it's ample, and smooth, with fairly bright rather languid cherry fruit supported by dusky graphite laced tannins that flo9w into a clean bright rather mineral finish. Quite pleasant, and graceful in a slightly brooding dusky key, and will also age nicely. More mineral than acidity supporting it, and it is impressive.
Podere la Berta Sangiovese di Romagna Superiore Riserva Olmatello 2008
Podere la Berta has recently been purchased by the folks who also own Felsina, the Chianti estate in Castelnuovo Berardenga, and is overseen by Bernabei, who bottled this wine, which was made by the previous owners. Deep black almandine with black reflections, the bouquet is powerful and quite international, with rich vanilla and spice supporting menthol and hints of vics vapo-rub (sp?), and some savory notes. A lot of oak. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by savory cedar laced tannins and some sour cherry acidity, which flows into a long cedar laced finish. It's well made and clean but heavily oaked, and you have to like the style or it won't work for you. very long finish, slowly fades to savory notes.
Azienda Agricola Gallegati Sangiovese di Romagna DOC Superiore Riserva Corallo Nero 2006
This is from clayey soils; it was fermented in steel, and then 14 spent months in wood. Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with dusky black cherry aromas mingled with some cedar and some savory graphite shaving minerality with a fair amount of menthol and some spice. Nice balance. On the palate it's bright, with lively fresh cherry fruit supported by deft sour berry fruit acidity and by tannins that are slightly greenish, with a pleasant burr and flow into a clean bright finish. Scrappy, and while it isn't a wine you will want to drink far from the table unless you are a lover of the style, it will work very well with foods, and in that context go surprisingly fast.
Tenuta Pertinello Colli di Romagna Centrale Sangiovese DOC Pertinello 2008
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is bright, with lively sour berry fruit supported by greenish accents and some heather, also menthol and spice, and quite a bit of acidity that gives it considerable zest. On the palate it's ample, and quite smooth, with deft sour cherry fruit supported by clean bright sour berry fruit acidity, and by tannins that are quite smooth and though they do have a slight greenish burr, are nicely defined and flow into a clean sour berry fruit finish with some brambly accents. It's quite deft, displaying considerable finesse, and is very pleasant to drink.
Castelluccio Ronco dei Ciliegi Rosso Forlì IGT 2007
Castelluccio was established in the late 70s by Gianvittorio Baldi, a Roman film director whose family was from Modigliana. He was blessed with the vision to want to do something unprecedented with Sangiovese di Romagna, and the genius to know he couldn't do it himself, and therefore hired Remigio Bordini to be his agronomist, and Vittorio Fiore, who has since purchased the property, to make the wines. Impenetrable pyrope with black reflections and some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with berry fruit supported by graphite shavings and some cedar, with some mineral acidity and by some sour berry fruit acidity as well. On the palate it's bright, with lively cherry fruit supported by rather languid slightly bitter tannins that have wet leaf undertones, and by acidity that's more mineral than citric, and by moderate acidity, flowing into a rather bitter graphite shaving bitterness finish. Pleasant, in a rather different key -- it stands out from the others, in terms of minerality and wet leaves -- and will both age nicely and drink well in the short term with steaks or roasts. It's still climbing.
That's it. My impressions?
A number of colleagues remarked that the Romagnan wines showed quite well, and I wasn't surprised. By comparison with their Tuscan cousins they were for the most part lighter and slightly more agile, with acidities that were a little livelier. The Tuscan wines were instead more polished, with a touch more tannic structure, and a little bigger. They were all good.
It is important to note this was a partial tasting -- the Romagnan wines were carefully selected, and just a few parts of Tuscany were represented -- but it clearly showed that great wines can come from either region, and that wine lovers who are not familiar with the wines of Romagna have many exciting discoveries to make.
Almost Wordless Wednesday: Between Here And There - I took this shot during the Pelleginaggio Artusiano in the spring of 2011. The mirror is somewhere between Castrocaro Terme and Portico di Romagna (on the ...
4 years ago