Summer is the season of the grill and a great red wine for pairing with things from the BBQ is Sangiovese. Originating in Italy, Sangiovese derives its name from the Latin —Sanguis Jovis— meaning “the blood of Jove”.
This medium-bodied dry red wine has a range of flavors that include red cherry, black plum, sun-dried tomato, cigar box, black tea, smoke, anise, and thyme; great acidity and a nice level of spiciness typify it. Medium to high tannin make it a versatile wine, suitable for pairing with hard cheeses and rich savory types of meals such as roasted meats, pork chops and of course pizza.
Here are capsule reviews of Sangiovese wines you may find along the Wine Road.
ACORN 2016 Sangiovese Alegría Vineyards, Russian River Valley
ACORN is known for its field blend wines, and the 2016 Sangiovese, Alegría Vineyards, is comprised of 98% Sangiovese, with 1% Canaiolo Nero, and 1% Mammalo Toscano. Fresh and vibrant with scents of spicy carnation and dusty rose petals. The palate is rich with red fruit flavors, specifically raspberry with a trace of dried strawberry, notes of mocha and baking spice, and a touch of cherry cola. Well structured and fully engaging, it has a medium body with sandy tannins and food-friendly acidity, an earmark of classic Chianti. It’s a sensory pleasure to enjoy with sausage pizza or perhaps a hearty smoked mushroom risotto.
Lago di Merlo 2013 Sangiovese Dry Creek Valley
Balanced and bright the Lago di Merlo 2013 Sangiovese has a grainy yet soft tannin structure with juicy Bing cherry flavors along with dusty plum, mocha-coco, and an earthy porcini finish. The fruit flavors start out a bit muted then build quickly and open to their full potential. High acidity level allows for a variety of pairing options from roasted meats and saucy chicken dishes to aged hard cheese and charcuterie platters.
Peterson 2015 Sangiovese Dry Creek Valley
The Peterson 2015 Sangiovese reminds me of my Italian grandparents table. Chianti was a mainstay of the Sunday meals where, as a child, I was given a taste of wine cut with water in a juice glass. The memory of those wines came back when I tasted this earthy and wily, classic style Sangiovese. It’s a complex equation of light dusty tannin and bouncy acidity. It’s wild at heart yet balanced in structure with flavors of marjoram, tomato leaf, deep dark fruits of plum and black cherry. A bit of tobacco leaf and leather on the finish meld beautifully with the fruit flavors. A rustic dish of peppers and sausage in tomato sauce or rosemary garlic roast chicken would make a fine complement.
Peterson 2015 Sangiovese, Il Granaio, Dry Creek Valley
Mama Mia! This is one super duper “Super Tuscan”, blended with 75% Sangiovese, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, and 6% Petit Verdot. It’s a virtual trip to the Tuscan countryside via the classic light sandy tannin structure, juicy flavors and lively acidity. Rustic, yet elegant with plush dusty fruit flavors of mulberry, blackberry, and dark cherry, and tertiary notes of tobacco, fig and coffee. Pair with hearty lasagna or eggplant parmigiana.
Zouzounis 2017 Sangiovese, Giannecchini Vineyards, Mendocino County
Fruity and bright the Zouzounis 2017 Sangiovese has layers of red fruit flavor and a lean medium body. High spirited, with frisky tannins that are taught and spiky, a bit of time in the glass gives this wine a chance to relax and unfold revealing dark red currant, cranberry flavors with a touch of tomato leaf. The juicy acidity guides the secondary flavors of black cherry and cola through to a lush round finish. Tomato and molasses-based BBQ sauces or tomato-based pasta dishes make for a fine pairing.
On that particular wine road, please try the oldest planting of Sangiovese in California – Seghesio “Chianti Station” (Alexander Valley). Like ACORN’s offering it is Sangiovese blended with its Tuscan brethren. Not inexpensive, but perhaps the best Sangiovese based blend in California.