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Sangiovese by any other name …

What do you think of when you hear “Sangiovese?”
Chianti, perhaps, since that region and its wines often are recognized as the pinnacle of Sangiovese winemaking.
Whether or not you agree with Chianti’s status, Sangiovese remains Italy’s widest-planted red grape and it follows there are many delightful wines being made from this at-once complex and yet malleable grape.
Romagna, of course, is making some wonderful Sangioveses, wines ranging from easy quaffers to those with depth, great balance and spicy tannins, particularly the Riserva level of wines.
Colleague Michael Franz wrote this after several of us recently spent a week touring vineyards in Romagna.
It’s not surprising that excellent Sangiovese are being made by many Italian winemakers and recently I tasted some Sangiovese from Montalcino, where the local Sangiovese clone (sangioverorosso) is better known as Brunello.
The area has a long history of winemaking and in 1980 Montalcino received Italy’s first Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) designation.
As an aside, Italy recently named three new DOCG and DOC wines, bringing the seemingly never-ending list of DOCG areas to 61 (or 62.) It’s enough to make your head spin and understand why the wine gods are also confused.
CastelGiocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2005 DOCG ($50) is 100 percent Sangiovese (according to DOCG regulations) and brings an attractive nose of red berry, dark fruit and a hint of violets along with dark chocolate, tobacco and espresso.
Bright flavors and fine tannins, carrying a hint of the extended oak aging (a mix of Slavonian oak casks and French oak barrels), and the wine’s acidity make this an extremely food-friendly red with a lingering, lovely finish.
Wine Spectator listed the 2004 vintage as the 15th Best Wine in the World.
Marchesi de Frescobaldi, producer of the CastelGiocondo Brunello di Montalcino, also makes a Riserva ($100), produced in limited amounts only in the best vintages. The wine is aged for 5 years (at least two in barrique, one on the large botti and at least one in bottle), yielding a warm, intensely structured wine with a long finish.
The wines are imported by Folio Fine Wine Partners of Napa.

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