Sangiovese

Sangiovese, the noble Italian and primarily Tuscan red grape variety, is one way for Red Wine 201 to broach the subject of globalization. In a more connected world, with cultures in constant contact, we risk a homogeneity of tastes. But Sangiovese remains essentially Tuscan as it has failed to make equally interesting wine elsewhere, in Australia and California, for example.

Sangiovese’s stubborn rootedness in Tuscany, this stunningly beautiful place, is echoed in the history of many of the families who cultivate it. Ancient families like the Antinoris, Frescobaldis, and Ricasolis, among others, can claim an extraordinary and unique continuity of tradition. The quest for quality has surged in the last twenty years, and the successful selection of clones has meant that Sangiovese-based wines like Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile are now rightly high in the hierarchy of wines.

But these last have correspondingly high prices. One worth chasing down, though there are only a couple of cases left, is Poliziano’s single-vineyard Vino Nobile, Asinone 2003 (952473) $46.95, which though expensive, gives a sense of how wonderful the grape can be.

A humbler wine from a proud and ancient family who had a hand in the creation of Chianti as an appellation is the Ricasoli Brolio Chianti Classico 2006 (3962) $23.75, and it has the toast and cherry notes one might hope for.

Finally, an old winery in new hands, Altesino, produces what it calls an everyday wine, Rosso di Altesino, Toscana 2006 (58369) $18.95. With a strong blackcurrant nose, and with additional and delicious notes of tea, cherry and oak on the palate, this could well improve daily life.

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