Sangiovese and Montepulciano are the 2 most dominant grapes of Central Italy. Both benefit from the warm climate and both produce concentrated red wines that are delicious!
Sangiovese produces dry wines with high tannins, high acidity and flavors of red fruits & dried herbs. IE: Red cherries and red plums.
Montepulciano produces deeply colored wines with medium acidity, high tannins, and flavors of black fruits. IE: Black plum and black cherries.
In Italy most wines are named after the regions while others are named after their grape varieties & their region.
Let’s dive a little more into how to read behind the wine labels of Italy.
This is where is gets interesting & will assist you in selecting and understanding your Italian wines.
· Chianti DOCG: Covers a wide area in the foothills of the Apennine Mountains & produces wines of varied quality. Many of these wines labeled as, Chianti DOCG are simple, inexpensive and are not intended for aging.
· Chianti Classico DOCG: Sits as a higher altitude than Chianti DOCG (See above) and the Sangiovese grapes enjoy a longer ripening season. A typical Chianti Classico DOCG has pronounced red fruits and dried herb notes. It is often matured in oak in order to soften the tannins while adding complex flavors of cloves and cedar. Chianti Classico must contain at least 80% Sangiovese. A maximum of 20% of other red grapes Colorino, Canaiolo Nero, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot may be used.
· Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG: This particular label is subject to stricter aging requirements and may show some tertiary characters by the time it has been released. Riserva on a Chianti basically means that the wine you are holding in your hands has spent at least two years in the oaks and at least three months in the bottle during the aging process.