It’s a countdown: five Sangiovese, four terroirs, three producers, two regions, one country, and one importer — Verovino– for this month’s Italian Food Wine Travel group of wine writers! Here’s the invitation from host, Wendy Klik.
Sangiovese is the grape in that ubiquitous Chianti bottle, you know the one in the straw basket. They used those baskets, called fiasco, (seriously!) to help with shipping back in the day. Learn more about Chianti here.
Sangiovese is grown in other areas of Italy in addition to Chianti, with most of it grown in the central parts of Italy and in Sicily. Today we’ll be looking at five wines: two from Tuscany, home of Chianti, and three from neighboring Emilia-Romagna. One is actually from Chianti, and four from other areas worth exploring.
I’ve been on a deep dive into sangiovese this week, starting with sangiovese based blends from the west coast (read it here), then a focused tasting with a vertical from Ranchita Canyon Vineyard (read about it here), and now, back to the homeland with these five from Italy imported by Verovino.
The common denominator for wines imported by Verovino founder Sheila Donahue? Each of the small producer she imports, she says:
- drink the wines they make themselves
- make wine from their land and grow the vines themselves
- the wines are good for you — minimal intervention and sustainably grown using organic and biodynamic principles and practices
- and she feels strongly these wines should be more widely available
“My company is a like a bridge,” said Sheila in a recent phone interview, connecting producers with consumers, and consumers with producers.
We paired these five sustainable Sangiovese samples with Sue’s home made bolognese, vegetarian ragu, caponata, tapenade and focaccia:
salami, fried salami, Italian cheeses, caponata, tapenade
- Meat Bolognese and vegan ragu with biodynamic whole wheat fusilli
- Spring salad mix
2018 Torre Matilde A.D 780 Chianti
14% alcohol SRP $21
85% sangiovese, 15% malvasia nera
In Italian, torre means tower; the name of this wine references a tower that is in tribute to Matilde, a female ruler of the region during medieval times, and there are many monuments and references to her.
“Italians are really proud of her and this part of their history,” Sheila told me.
The tower is located in a town between PIsa and Florence. The winery is an old property in a classic Chianti area, and that’s where they get the name from, says Sheila “they have vineyards going back there.” They grow several sangiovese plus vermentino and they have a couple other international varietals. Their wine making is changing, says Sheila, they have a new wigmaker and they’re in a transition phase, but they are committed to farming organically. While the 2018 wine is farmed organically, only the 2017 is certified on the label.
I love this wine, what a fantastic wine at such a great price point. This is a great red wine for summer! Light and bright!
Fermented in stainless steel and concrete, no oak, and with minimal intervention.
Color: Medium density, blood red, brickish, pink rim, looks like a young wine
Nose: Cherry snuff, tobacco, cherry fruit, lots of muskiness, earthy eucalyptus, the duff below the tree, it smells like a beautiful perfume filled with fruit, floral, and earthy muskiness. seductive nose
Palate: Light, bright, easy to drink, assessable, dark chocolate cocoa nips on the finish, dark chocolate dipped cherries, herbal lavender finish, lavender flower, noticeable tannins at both the front and back of the palate.
Pairing: I just wanted to hang out with it for a while! Usually I’m excited to pair a wine with food but this one was so lovely and full of fruit I was happy to just chill with it. But when we did pairings, we found it to be a fun food wine that was fantastic with gorgonzola, great with the tapenade and the caponata. Sue liked it best with the caponata, such a lovely sweet savory combination. Fantastic with all the flavors in the salad.
PS I love this label too– in fact all of their wines have stunning labels! Go to Verovinogusto.com to see them!
2015 Braschi Monte Sasso Emilia- Romagna Sangiovese San Vicinio
13.5% alcohol $21
TRIVIA: Remember the movie Life is Beautiful? The main actor, Robert Benini, is married a Nicolleta Braschi. Today’s it’s owned two men from Romagna who are really passionate about their roots and wanting to raise up the level of wines from Romagna, with a focus on sangiovese and albana; we wrote about their orange wine last month which you cna read about here.
People think sangiovese comes from Tuscany but the name sangiovese comes from Romagna and means blood of Jove — Jupiter. Romanga gets its name because it was the capital the Roman empire.
The winery sits at 1000 feet in the mountains. 50 year old vineyard, maintained by farmers over the years. It is a field blend of Sangiovese. The farmers took care of it picked they types of grapes they wanted to grow. Their intent was to create a field blend that they could grow together and share, so it’s a wealth of different clones.
The church in Sarsina is famous for exorcisms. It’s mountainous and people lie isolated from each other.
Color: Light to medium density, brickish red, coral rim
Nose: Menthol, eucalyptus, cherry, cherry blossom, rose
Palate: For Sue, the menthol came through first and foremost. She got herbasiousness right off the bat, there are mellow tannins up from, nicely balanced between acidity and tannins. Lots of cherry fruit. This is Shiela’s sister’s favorite wine, and I see why!
Pairing: The bright tart acidity in the tapenade brings out the cherry fruit in the wine. Great with the gorgonzola, luscious with the La Tur bringing out a lovely funkiness in the cheese and fruit in the wine. Fried salami brings out great fruit in the wine. Fantastic with all the flavors in the salad. The bitter greens were nicely complimented by the wine. This wine has a lot of acidity holding up to the pasta and the sauce. The wheat creates a sweetness and the acidity mellows it bringing out a nice creaminess.
2017 Braschi Il Costone Romagna Sangiovese Superiore
13.5% alcohol SRP $22
Color: Brickish, maroon, blood red, coral rim, medium density,
Nose: Nicely complex, lots of florals roses, herbal garden, rhubarb, plum, mulberry, very interesting nose, there is a lot going on in the glass.
Palate: Tannins up front with juicy ripe yet tart fruit following, very nice herbal qualities, sage, rosemary, cherry cough drop, cherry and more cherry, as it opens up there is more plum
Pairing: This was not my favorite wine with the gorgonzola. Great with the La Tur. Sue loved it with the caponata, and Gretel thought it was perfect with the tapenade. Fantastic with the fried salami. Also perfect with the tapenade. OMG, the wine with the bolognese is fantastic.
2015 Braschi Il Costone Sangiovese Bertinoro Riserva
14% alcohol SRP $28
Color: Ruby, brick red or coppery rim.
Nose: Very herbal, and to me it smells very youthful with lots of cherry, earth, loamy soils, dill, cloves, allspice, eucalyptus, putty, and clay.
Palate: Clay, silt, cherry, eucalyptus, dry chalkiness, plus cocoa powder on the back of the palate. Enjoyable now, but I really would like to lay a bottle of this down to see where it goes. And at $28, you can! I loved the complexity of this wine.
Pairing: Love this wine with our appetizers! The creamy La Tur, tapanade, caponata, salami, fried salami, and the toscana cheese all paired well. The toscana cheese becomes sweet and brings out the tart fruit. The gorgonzola and the wine sing. I loved the rosemary crusted asiago paired with the wine. Sue found that the bitterness in the arugula in the salad brought out an unpleasant bitterness in the wine as well, so if to do it again with this wine, lose the arugula, and keep the sweet spring greens. With the bolognese? So, so good. The herbed focaccia was also fantastic with it.
2017 La Maliosa Tarconte Toscana – I.G.T.
15% alcohol SRP $46
We began our journey in Toscana, and we will conclude here too, with a truly remarkable wine which is so limited in quantity that they only make 200 bottles a year. We are very grateful to Sheila for sharing it with us!
They do not run the fruit through a press and they use native yeast. This is a very select wine, but less rare is the rosso which I wrote about here when I participated in a ZOOM vero talk in April; read about it here. where you’ll also learn about the best organic olive oil in the world!
Color: Unfined unfiltered, medium density, ruby, brickish, mauve rim
Nose: Plum, Sue got a sulphuric funk, minerals, herbs and black pepper, sarsaparilla.
Palate: Very juicy, tannins and fruit. Take the ripe fruit and crunch on the seeds. The essence of the fruit and the earth and the moment. It is fresh and bright and alive.
Palate: So very good with the DOC gorgonzola, fabulous with the caponata and the olive tapenade, the rosemary asiago was perfect, the toscana was nice with it but makes it a bit sweet. I liked the wine with the fried salami, Sheila didn’t care for it with the regular salami. We all agreed that it went better with the fried salami. So fantastic with the salad, the fruitiness of the wine mixed with the herbal yummy tastes of the salad. Fantastic with the pasta, fantastic with the fococia. The wine brings out the complexities in the biodynamic pasta. the spice and the earth. With this wine the pasta really sings. We were surprised to find that it has enough fruit and herbal richness to hang out perfectly with the tiramisu . The coffee, the cognac, and the fruit go perfectly with the wine. I even liked this wine with the terimisu. What a great wine to go from beginning to end.
Join our twitter chat on Saturday June 6 at 8am Pacific or check out the hashtag #ItalianFWT any time! We will be discussing the following topics; check out the complete list of questions below:
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla is sharing Piadina Margherita + Bucci Piceno Pongelli 2014.
- Terri of Our Good Life served up Spatchcocked Chicken And Sangiovese.
- Linda of My Full Wine Glass is talking about “A taste of Tuscany to chase away the pandemic blues”
- Susannah of Avvinare is “Exploring Sangiovese di Romagna.”
- Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles is sharing “Sangiovese by another name…like Morellino or Prugnolo Gentile.”
- Gwendolyn of Wine Predator is visiting “5 Sangiovese, 4 terroir, 3 producers, 2 regions, 1 country”
- Cindy of Grape Experiences is sharing “Tuscan Wine and Food Classics: Ruffino Chianti Superiore 2017 and Paglia e Fieno (Straw & Hay)”
- Jane of Always Ravenous is tempting us with “Tasting Tuscan Sangiovese Paired with Comforting Pot Roast”
- Katrina of The Corkscrew Concierge is Exploring Sangiovese – Rosso di Montalcino Paired with a Summer Classic
- Katarina of Grapevine Adventures is talking about Tuccanese – A Sangiovese From a Pugliese Perspective
- Nicole of Somm’s Table is sharing three B’s with us today “Brunello, a Book, and a Boston Butt: Frescobaldi CastelGiocondo Brunello di Montalcino with Italian Braised Pork
- Jennifer of Vino Travels says “Montecucco: Tuscany’s Hidden Gem featuring Colli Massari”
- Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm thinks A Sangiovese by any other name is still a Dang Good Wine.
- 11:05 am ET Q1 So we are talking about Sangiovese for today’s #ItalianFWT. Are you a Sangiovese fan?
- 11:10 a.m. ET Q2 What area of Italy did your Sangiovese come from? What made you choose that location? #ItalianFWT
- 11:15 a.m. ET Q3 Did you pair your wines with a dish or dishes? What did you make? Share a link to your recipe if you posted one! #ItalianFWT
- 11:20 a.m. ET Q4 Have you tried Sangiovese from locations other than the one you chose for today’s event? How did it compare? Similarities? Differences? #ItalianFWT
- 11:25 a.m. ET Q5 Most Italian Sangiovese is from Chianti in Tuscany. However the grapes are grown throughout Italy and in other countries as well. How do you find the old world wines compare to those grown in other countries? #ItalianFWT
- 11:30 a.m. ET Q6 Sangiovese is considered a food friendly wine and is ofter served as a “table” wine, pairing well with many different types of dishes. Did you find this to be true? #ItalianFWT
- 11:35 a.m. ET Q7 Sangiovese is an ancient varietal. Did your exploration lead you to an area that started planting these grapes more recently? #ItalianFWT
- 11:40 a.m. ET Q8 Next month we are exploring Super Tuscans with @jillbarth. These are wines grown in an area known previously only for Sangiovese and use grapes not indegenous to the area. If you haven’t yet tried a Super Tuscan make sure you pick one up and join us next month for #ItalianFWT
- 11:45 a.m. ET Shoutout to the #ItalianFWT crew who joined in today’s event. I hope you had fun exploring other areas of Italy with me and discovered some great wines outside of Chianti.
- 11:50 a.m. ET Q9 #ItalianFWT Any final thoughts about Sangiovese? Did you discover anything new about this varietal?
- 11:55 a.m. ET Q10 When looking for a Sangiovese do you head straight to Italy or is there another country that makes a Sangiovese that you adore? #ItalianFWT
- 12:00 p.m. ET Thanks for joining host @WendyKlik for the June #ItalianFWT chat as we talked about Sangiovese Around Italy! Looking forward to seeing you all again at the next event.
Apologies in advance if this is a little rough! We are camping along the Kern River on a rafting trip and I couldn’t get any service to use my hotspot to finish up my post! I had to drive in a lightening storm quite a ways to find a spot leaving the food behind and instructions to eat without me.
THEN a million sirens and fire engines etc and my son called me from a bike ride to say lighting blew out a transformer and there’s a FIRE and the road’s closed and who know when I can get back! I’m going to hit publish and try anyway. Wish me luck!
ALSO– because of the lack of service I may miss out on the chat…
Hello Gwendolyn! I hope you are safely reunited with your family!
Thanks to Sheila for stopping by and joining us in the chat this morning! I love that she is promoting these smaller sustainable vignerons. I especially love that Braschi works with Sangiovese field blends!
Lastly…I need to know about the fried salami. Did you slice then fry then add to the salad?
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Yes, I made it back! My spouse was soaked but still cooking dinner! He was happy to be reunited with his duffel bag of warm dry clothes!
And yes, I was amazed when I met Sheila and she told me about the wineries that she chooses to work with! What a valuable bridge she offers for us all!
And finally: fried salami: slice into disks and fry up! It’s a great way to salvage salami that got forgotten and is past its prime. Also useful for recipes that call for bacon or prosciutto etc. It adds a lovely crunch to salads!
What a great range of Sangiovese styles!
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I know! So grateful! Fun to comparative taste too!
WOW! Those are intense conditions you were posting under. Congrats on getting it done. And very cool line up. So interesting how minor things like frying or not frying the salami can make difference to a pairing.
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It was pretty tough — but very committed to sharing these wines with everyone! They really are special and affordable for the high quality. PS I feel terrible that I missed the chat and couldn’t get online in the morning…
I love that you focused on these small producers that practice minimal intervention. Sounds like these definitely should be more well known.
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Well I got lucky! That’s what Verovinogusto specializes in, her warehouse is about 10 minutes away from me, and she provided us with samples!
It’s the best when you can try a variety of a particular grape at one time from different terroirs to show its different expressions. Beautiful!
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It was a very educational and enjoyable experience! Need to do more research!