The Sangiovese grape is a bit of a chameleon; easily altering its genetics to fit the environment. There are many different mutations of the variety all over Italy, which results in very different tasting wines. From the delicate floral strawberry aromas of Montefalco Rosso to the intensely dark and tannic wines of Brunello di Montalcino, Sangiovese wine has something for everyone.

Sangiovese is a red Italian wine grape variety that derives its name from the Latin sanguis Jovis, “the blood of Jupiter“. The literal translation of the grape’s name, the “blood of Jove”, refers to the Roman god Jupiter. Though it is the grape of most of central Italy from Romagna down to Lazio, Campania and Sicily. It is the most widespread grape in Tuscany and outside Italy it is most famous as the only component of Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino and the main component of the blends Chianti, Carmignano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Morellino di Scansano, although it can also be used to make varietal wines such as Sangiovese di Romagna and the modern wines like Tignanello.

Sangiovese was already well-known by the 16th century. Recent DNA profiling by José Vouillamoz of the Istituto Agrario di San Michele all’Adige suggests that Sangiovese’s ancestors are Ciliegiolo and Calabrese Montenuovo. The former is well-known as an ancient variety in Tuscany, the latter is an almost-extinct relic from the Calabria, the toe of Italy.[8] At least fourteen Sangiovese clones exist, of which Brunello is one of the best regarded. An attempt to classify the clones into Sangiovese grosso (including Brunello) and Sangiovese piccolo families has gained little evidential support.Young Sangiovese has fresh fruity flavors of strawberry and a little spiciness, but it readily takes on oaky, even tarry, flavors when aged in barrels. While not as aromatic as other red wine varieties such as Pinot noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, Sangiovese often has a flavor profile of sour red cherries with earthy aromas and tea-leaf notes. Wines made from Sangiovese usually have medium-plus tannins and high acidity.

Early theories on the origin of Sangiovese dated the grape to the time of Roman wine making. It was even postulated that the grape was first cultivated in Tuscany by the Etruscan from wild Vitis vinifera vines. The literal translation of the grape’s name, the “blood of Jove”, refers to the Roman god Jupiter. According to legend, the name was coined by monks from the Santarcangelo di Romagna in the Emilia-Romagna region of east-central Italy.

The first documented mention of Sangiovese was in the 1590’s.The grape was identified as “Sangiogheto” and the grape makes very good wine. While there is no conclusive proof that Sangiogheto is Sangiovese, most wine historians generally consider this to be the first historical mention of the grape. Regardless, it would not be until the 18th century that Sangiovese would gain widespread attention throughout Tuscany, being with Malvasia and Trebbiano the most widely planted grapes in the region.

In 1738, wines made from Sangiovese were described as excellent when blended with other varieties but hard and acidic when made as a wine by itself. The winemaker, Bettino Ricasoli formulated one of the early recipes for Chianti when he blended his Sangiovese with a sizable amount of Canaiolo. In the wines of Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Sangiovese would experience a period of popularity in the late 19th and early 20th century. In the 1970s, Tuscan winemakers began a period of innovation by introducing modern oak treatments and blending the grape with non-Italian varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon in the creation of wines that were given the collective marketing sobriquet “Super Tuscans”.


Sangiovese grapes
Sangiovese grapes


Sangiovese vineyard


Sangiovese has shown itself to be adaptable to many different types of vineyard soils but seems to thrive in soils with a high concentration of limestone, having the potential to produce elegant wines with forceful aromas. In the Chianti Classico region, Sangiovese thrives on the highly friable shale-clay soil known as galestro. In the Montalcino region, there is a high proportion of limestone-based alberese soils alternating with deposits of galestro. The lesser zones of the generic Chianti appellation are predominantly clay, which often produce as high quality of wine as alberese and galestro do.

The grape requires a long growing season, as it buds early and is slow to ripen. The grape requires sufficient warmth to ripen fully, but too much warmth and its flavors can become diluted. Harvests in Italy have traditionally begun after September 29, with modern harvest often taking place in mid-late October. A longer growing season gives the grapes time to develop richness and potential body. However, in cool vintages this can result in the grapes having high levels of acidity and harsh, unripened tannins. In regions (like some areas of Tuscany) that are prone to rainfall in October, there is a risk for rot due to the Sangiovese grape’s thin skin. For the best quality, yields need to be kept in check as the vine is notably vigorous and prone to overproduction. In Chianti, most quality conscious producers limit their yields to 3 pounds (1.5 kg) of fruit per vine. Soils with low fertility are ideal and help control some vigor of the vine. Planting vines in high densities in order to curb vigor may have the adverse effect of increasing foliage and limiting the amount of direct sunlight that can reach the ripening grapes.[13] Advances in understanding the quality and characteristics of the different clones of Sangiovese has led to the identification and propagation of superior clones. While high-yielding clones have been favored in the past, more attention is being paid to matching the clone to the vineyard site and controlling the vine’s vigor.

To add color and fruit to the wine, some winemakers will blend their Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignon (pictured).

The high acidity and light body characteristics of the Sangiovese grape can present a problem for wine making. The grape also lacks some color-creating phenolic compounds known as acylated anthocyanins. Modern winemakers have devised many techniques trying to find ways to add body and texture to Sangiovese — ranging from using grapes that come from extremely low yielding vines, to adjusting the temperature and length of fermentation and employing extensive oak treatment. One historical technique is the blending of other grape varieties with Sangiovese, in order to complement its attractive qualities and fill in the gaps of some of its weaker points. Other techniques used to improve the quality of Sangiovese include extending the maceration period from 7–12 days to 3–4 weeks to give the must more time to leach vital phenols out of the grape skins. Transferring the wine during fermentation into new oak barrels for malolactic fermentation gives greater polymerization of the tannins and contributes to a softer wine flavor.rounder.

Wine regions

Sangiovese wine.

Sangiovese wine.

A glass of Chianti made primarily from Sangiovese

A glass of Chianti made primarily from Sangiovese.

While Sangiovese plantings are found worldwide, the grape’s homeland is central Italy. From there the grape was taken to North and South America by Italian immigrants. It first achieved some popularity in Argentina where in the Mendoza region it produced wines that had few similarities to its Tuscan counterparts. In California the grape found a sudden surge of popularity in the late 1980s with the movement of winemakers seeking red wine alternatives to the standard French varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot noir.


In Italy, Sangiovese is the most widely planted red grape variety. It is an officially recommended variety in 53 provinces and an authorized planting in an additional 13. It accounts for approximately 10% of all vineyard plantings in Italy with more than 250,000 acres planted to one of the many clonal variations of the grape.


A glass of Brunello di Montalcino

A glass of Brunello di Montalcino.

From the early to mid-20th century, the quality of Chianti was in low regard. DOC regulation that stipulates the relatively bland Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes needed to account for at least 10% of the finished blend, with consequent higher acidity and diluted flavors. Some wineries trucked in full-bodied and jammy red wines from Sicily and Apulia to add color and alcohol to the blend—an illegal practice that did little to improve the quality of Chianti. From the 1970s through the 1980s, a revolution of sorts spread through Tuscany as the quality of the Sangiovese grape was rediscovered. Winemakers became more ambitious and willing to step outside DOC regulations to make 100% varietal Sangiovese or a “Super Tuscan” blend with Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet and Merlot.[13]

Outside Tuscany

Sangiovese Wine


Sangiovese is considered the “workhorse” grape of central Italy, producing everything from everyday drinking to premium wines in a variety of styles-from red still wines, to rosato to sweet passito, semi-sparkling frizzante and the dessert wine Vin Santo. In northern Italy, the grape is a minor variety with it having difficulties ripening north of Emilia-Romagna. In the south, it is mainly used as a blending partner with the region’s local grapes such as Primitivo, Montepulciano and Nero d’Avola.

In the Romagna region of Emilia-Romagna, the same grape is called Sangiovese di Romagna and is widely planted in all the Romagna region east of Bologna. Like its neighboring Tuscan brother, Sangiovese di Romagna has shown itself to spring off a variety of clones that can produce a wide range of quality—from very poor to very fine. Viticulturists have worked with Romagna vines to produce new clonal varieties of high quality.

United States and Canada

Sangiovese Grapes
Sangiovese Grapes

Italian immigrants brought Sangiovese to California in the late 19th century. But it was never considered very important until the success of the Super Tuscans in the 1980s spurred new interest in the grape. In 1991, there were nearly 200 acres planted with Sangiovese. By 2003, that number rose to nearly 3,000 acres with plantings across the state, most notably in Napa Valley, Sonoma County, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and the Sierra Foothills.

The flavor profile of the wine usually shows red plums, tart cherries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and figs. It undergoes a light oak aging, which often imparts it a subtle vanilla and cedar character. The style of the wine may be rustic, or fruit-forward, though both go very well with food. Pairing the wines with some ingredients suggested below, say tomatoes, would accentuate the fruitiness of the wine.


  1. Sangiovese and tomato is a classic combination. Pair the wine with tomato-based dishes such as red sauce pasta. Spaghetti and meatballs, the Italian-influenced American dish, famous the world over, or preparations with marinara sauce, like ravioli marinara, are brilliant pairings with Sangiovese.
  2. Any grilled steak is delicious with this wine. Cut from the loin, the meat is marbled and cooked on live charcoal or wood fire.
  3. Grilled vegetables are a great pairing with this red too! Try a pizza with roasted veggies!
  4. Beef stew. The richness of meat helps cut through the tannins in the wine.
  5. Sausages taste delicious with this varietal. Barbecued sausages, in particular, are excellent.
  6. Dishes flavored with herbs, mainly oregano, thyme, basil, and sage are a delightful companion to Sangiovese.

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Please explore and sample some of our fine selections of Sangiovese fine wines or go to our main site for a complete selection of all fine beverages

Castello di Monsanto Il Poggio Chianti Classico Riserva 2013

Sangiovese from Chianti Classico, Chianti, Tuscany, Italy

Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 2015

Sangiovese from Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy

Viticcio Chianti Classico Riserva 2015

Sangiovese from Chianti Classico, Chianti, Tuscany, Italy

Fattoria La Lecciaia Brunello di Montalcino 2013

Sangiovese from Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy

Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva 2016

Sangiovese from Chianti Classico, Chianti, Tuscany, Italy

San Filippo Brunello di Montalcino Le Lucere 2013

Sangiovese from Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy

Ferrari-Carano Siena 2016

Sangiovese from Sonoma County, California

Collosorbo Rosso di Montalcino 2016

Sangiovese from Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy

Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico Riserva Berardo 2015

Sangiovese from Chianti Classico, Chianti, Tuscany, Italy

Poggio San Polo Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2012

Sangiovese from Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy

Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia 2016

Sangiovese from Chianti Classico, Chianti, Tuscany, Italy





Port is the world’s most popular fortified wine. Made for centuries in the rugged region of northwest Portugal’s Douro Valley, Port is a fortified wine, meaning it’s a wine that’s been blended with a small amount of a distilled spirit, usually brandy. Good Port Wine is a Portuguese fortified wine produced with distilled grape spirits exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. It is typically a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine, though it also comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties. Fortified wines in the style of port are also produced outside Portugal, including in Australia, France, South Africa, Canada, India, Argentina, Spain, and the United States. Under the European Union Protected Designation of Origin guidelines, only the product from Portugal may be labeled as port or Porto. In the United States, wines labeled “port” may come from anywhere in the world, while the names “Oporto”, “Porto”, and “Vinho do Porto” have been recognized as foreign, non-generic names for port wines originating in Portugal.

Port wine, associated with Portugal really came into being as a result of the activity of England. Essentially, the English boycotted French wine during the late 17th century and as a result of the war and began sourcing their red wine from Portugal instead of France. The British were adding a small amount of brandy to the Port to stabilize it during the transport from Portugal to England. As a result, Ports have a reputation for being higher in alcohol, noticeably sweeter, and with more body and palate density than other wines.

The Brits started adding a wee bit of brandy to the Port to help sustain it during the voyage back to England. The brandy served to give the fragile still wine the fortitude to make the long trip on a rocking boat without spoiling, but it also made the wine considerably sweeter when it was added early enough to halt fermentation and leave residual sugar levels elevated. As a result, Ports have a reputation for being higher in alcohol, noticeably sweeter, and with more body and density than other wines.


Over a hundred varieties of grapes (castas) are sanctioned for port production, although only five Tinta Barroca,

Tinto Cão, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Francesa, and Touriga Nacional are widely cultivated and used. Touriga Nacional is widely considered the most desirable port grape but it is difficult to grow. Touriga Francesa is thus the most widely planted grape. White ports are produced the same way as red ports, except that they use white grapes of Donzelinho Branco, Esgana-Cão, Folgasão, Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, Rabigato and Viosinho. All commercially available Ports are from a blend of different grapes. Quinta do Noval, which, since being planted in 1925 on ungrafted rootstock, has produced some of the most expensive vintage ports.

Grapes grown for port are generally characterized by their small, dense fruit which produces concentrated and long-lasting flavors, suitable for long aging. While the grapes used to produce port made in Portugal are strictly regulated by the Instituto do Vinho do Porto, wines from outside this region which describe themselves as the port may be made from other varieties.

How Port Is Made

Port starts off similar to other still wines as far as the production process goes. Grapes are harvested in the fall after a season of significant struggle in low-nutrient, dry schist soil in the patchwork of Douro Valley vineyards.

Next, the grapes are pressed to extract the juice and initiate fermentation. Many Port producers still embrace traditional foot treading in open-air Lagares or large stone or cement tanks for pressing the fruit. After treading, the grape ‘must’ the fresh-pressed juice along with the seeds, stems, and skins—ferments for several days, until alcohol levels reach around 7 percent.

At this point, the young wine is fortified with brandy to bring the fermentation process to a sudden stop and to capture the new wine’s unique fruit flavors. This fortification will leave the residual sugar levels considerably higher than most still wines, typically in the 100 g/L range.

Finally, the batch of Port is pumped into large oak casks, typically for 18 months or so of aging. At the year and a half mark, these young Port wines are blended with other lots of Port wine to find complementary components that will ultimately deliver a delicious wines with well-defined fruit, a great palate appeal, and overarching balance. The young Port may then be transferred to bottles for further aging or receive additional time in a cask.

Types of Port

In broad terms, Port can be split into two distinct categories: wood-aged or bottle-aged. Wood-aged Ports are typically designed to be consumed while still relatively young. The bottle-aged beauties, like Vintage Port, are built to go the distance, often requiring another decade or two to reach full maturity.

Ruby Port

Ruby Ports, so named for their distinct ruby color, are young wines with fresh, fruit-filled aromas. These wines are wallet-friendly, entry-level Ports made from a mix of both grapes and vintages. They’re aged for a total of three years and are quite popular in U.S. markets. Ruby Ports are intended to be consumed young and enjoy a remarkable food-pairing versatility.

Foods to Pair With a Ruby Port: Blue cheese, milk chocolate, and berry-based desserts

Tawny Port

A Tawny Port is a blend of older vintage wines and displays a rich amber color. Tawnies typically fall on the slightly sweeter side of the spectrum.

As a tawny port spends more time in oak, its color starts to fade from ruby red to more ruby-orange or a “brick-red,” often reaching a deep amber or mahogany color by the time it’s matured. As the aging process continues, a Tawny will taste nuttier and will develop the rich flavors of caramelized figs, dates, and prunes, compared with the fresh-fruit character of Ruby Port.

On the label, the age is most commonly designated as 10, 20, or 30 years. These year designations represent the average age of the various vintages used in the Tawny Port blend, not the exact years the wine has been aged as a whole. Tawny Ports come in three different styles:

  • A Colheita Port is made from grapes that were all harvested in the same year.
  • A Crusted Port is an unfiltered tawny that develops visible sediment, “crust,” and needs decanting before serving.
  • Indicated Age Tawny Ports are designated as being 10, 20, 30, or 40 years old; the number indicates the minimum average age of the wines used in the bottle.

Tawny Port Food Pairing Aged cheddar cheese, caramel apples or apple pie, dried fruit, milk or dark chocolate, cheesecake, tiramisu, and pumpkin or pecan pie.

Vintage Port

A Vintage Port is a Port that is made of blended grapes, usually from various vineyards, which are all from the same vintage year. Historically, Vintage Ports are only declared every three out of 10 years on average. The best grapes, from the best vineyards in the best years, come together to create a quality Vintage Port.

These Ports typically spend about 6 months in oak and then go unfiltered into a bottle for further aging. This extended aging is typical to the tune of another 20 years or more! As a direct result of long-term aging, a pretty heavy layer of sediment forms, and Vintage Ports require decanting and a good bit of aeration before they’re consumed.

Vintage Ports represent the upper echelon both in style and cost. A classification that is common to mistake with the “Vintage Port” designation is the Late-Bottled Vintage (LBV) Port. This particular style of Port is made with grapes from a single vintage, but it was aged in oak only four to six years before it is bottled and released. Late-Bottled Vintage Port is exceedingly popular in the U.K.

Vintage Port and Food Pairing: Stilton and other blue cheeses, almonds and walnuts, chocolate and chocolate-based desserts, and puffed pastries

White Port

As the name implies, White Port is derived from white grape varietals and can be made in both very dry to semi-sweet styles. White Port is typically fruitier on the palate and a bit fuller-bodied than other fortified white wines.

Storing and Serving Port

Vintage Ports should be stored on their sides, in a dark, cool environment like their still wine counterparts. Ruby and Tawny Ports are ready to drink once released and can either be stored upright or on their sides. Once opened, Ports can last from a day (Vintage Port) to several weeks for Ruby Ports and several months for a Tawny Port.

When serving Port, try to keep the serving temperature right around 60 to 65 degrees. Serving Port wines with a slight chill will lift the aromatics and focus the innate fruit and flavor components.

Today, various renditions of Port are made outside of Portugal in several wine-producing countries. However, these fortified wines are typically made from raisined grapes and often lack the depth and remarkable acidity that comes with the original. Authentic Portuguese Port is designated as “Porto” on the bottle’s label.

Please sign up for our email list below to get the latest information on our latest product descriptions, upcoming sales and special offers. We have some of the best offers in the business so please keep updated and have all questions answered in our COMMONWEALTH NEWS

Please sample some of our fine selections below or go to our main website for a total selection of your favorite beverages


Wine & Soul Pintas Vintage Port 2014

Port from Douro, Portugal

Quinta da Romaneira Vintage Port 2016

Port from Douro, Portugal

Warre’s Fine White Port

Port from Portugal

Smith Woodhouse Vintage Port 2016

Port from Portugal

Ferreira Vintage Port 2011

Port from Portugal

Ferreira White Port

Port from Portugal

Ramos Pinto 10 Year Tawny Ervamoira

Port from Portuga

Quinta Nova Cla Port Special Reserve

Port from Portugal

Ferreira Dona Antonia Reserva Tawny Port

Port from Portugal

Fonseca 10-Year-Old Tawny

Port from Portugal

Smith Woodhouse Colheita Tawny Port 2000

Port from Portugal

Sandeman 10-Year-Old Tawny

Port from Portugal