Clive Hartley

The best and often most expensive sangiovese are rich, elegant, silky tannic wines with hidden depth suitable for long term cellaring. In Tuscany these types of wines come from Chianti, Chianti Classico,  and Brunello di Montalcino regions. Some producers choose to blend sangiovese with cabernet sauvignon or merlot. The grape is late ripening with noticeable acidity; and due to a weak colour pigment it tends to suffer from oxidation and can display an orange rim. You cannot really compare it with another grape variety as it is lighter, medium bodied and has more noticeable acidity than most reds. This aspect makes it one of the most food friendly wines I know, as it sits behind the food slightly, and does not dominate it.

In Australia it produces medium bodied wines, with black cherry, plum or herbal/tobacco leaf aromas and less acidity than the Italian wines. Good examples will have a savoury, silkiness in the mouth and fine grain tannins. Despite many regions having Italian migrant farmers, the first plantings were in the Barossa Valley at Penfolds owned Kalimna vineyard and Montrose winery in Mudgee. It wasn’t until the mid 1980s that the variety caught on with Mark Lloyd at Coriole in McLaren Vale planting and making wines. Coriole Vita Reserve 2021 Sangiovese ($75) is sourced from those first vines and has sweet red fruit aromatics, followed by an elegant, round, plush, medium bodied palate.

Closer to home Vinea Marson in Heathcote make an excellent dry, textured cedar/vanilla oak driven Sangiovese. Current vintage is the 2019 ($42) but for an extra $12 you can buy a 2013 museum wine which would be interesting to try. They also use sangiovese to make a highly recommended Rosato 2021 ($28) that is dry, textured and savoury.  In Bendigo at Sutton Grange the 2022 Fairbank Sangiovese ($35) is a different style of wine using carbonic maceration (think Beaujolais) with bags of red cherries and strawberries on the nose, followed by a dry, soft fruit driven palate.

You can find Sangiovese growing in all States. Try Lark Hill 2022 Scuro from the Canberra District. This is a 50/50 blend of sangiovese and syrah and is lovely sweet cherry and oak driven wine that is textured, medium bodied with a supple, velvet long finish.

Clive Hartley is an award-winning wine writer, educator and consultant. His radio show on Hepburn Community Radio is called “put a cork in it” and series 2 is now out on Spotify.  Want to learn more about wine? Try his book the Australian Wine Guide (7th ed) – available for purchase from Paradise Books in Daylesford or through his website –