Sangiovese is famously the grape of Tuscany. It is the primary component in Chianti, Chianti Classico, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and is the sole component of the spectacularly ageable Brunello di Montalcino (read more about Brunello and its aging here.). Aromas of cherries and red plums are typically accompanied by earthy goodness and herbal funkiness. Foothills versions are generally a little cleaner and fruitier than their rustic Italian counterparts. This is a highly under-appreciated grape in the Foothills in our opinion, and we hope to see much more of it in the coming years.
FOOTHILLS WINO PANEL SELECTION BEST SANGIOVESE
Vino Noceto is the undisputed champion of all things Sangiovese in the Foothills, if not all of California, if not all of the New World... okay, let's say everywhere outside of Tuscany. In addition to their standard flagship version, they make a Riserva, an age-worthy AX-1, and several vineyard or plot-specific versions. They also throw in a rosé and a white version for good measure. Our personal favorite is the Dos Okies, but they are all uniquely good and worthy of top billing.
OTHER FAVORITE FOOTHILLS SANGIOVESE WINES
In one of our very first blind tasting competitions many years ago, the 2015 Amador Cellars Sangiovese from the Ottimista Vineyard shocked the Panel with a run-away win in the category. Revisiting this wine and its more recent vintages, we see why it blew us away! This is such a delightfully funky, clean beauty with everything you could want in a Sangiovese. We originally wrote "weighty but uplifting" for this wine. We like that and will stick with it.
Sangiovese vines were some of the original plantings by Karen J Wood when she started her natural and sustainable vineyard and winery in 1999. Now with the vines fully mature and producing powerful fruit, Karen isn't afraid to crank up the volume on the intensity level, making this wine a worthy accompaniment for hardy Tuscan dishes like Bistecca alla Fiorentina.
Yes, Cooper makes great wines other than the Barbara they are famously known for. In fact, they have 90 acres planted to 17 varieties, all carefully tended to by the daughters of family patriarch and Foothills legend Dick Cooper. We think the Sangiovese, with its wonderful combination of fruit, florals, and herbs, might be the best of them all.
Ripe fruit leads the way in this interesting wine from a producer that seems to get better with each vintage. Undertones of herbs and spices are hiding beneath the fruit, and they start to reveal themselves more and more with each sip. The finish is long, complete, and very satisfying.
While more famous for their production of other varieties, the Lava Cap Sangiovese is sneaky good. Tremendously complex with red fruits and lingering minerality, this nicely structured Sangiovese is perfectly suited to pair with a wide range of foods.
This Sangiovese sourced from the Murrill Vineyard in Amador County has long been one of our favorite wines produced by former owner and winemaker Steve Ryan of Oakstone. Now in the hands of up and coming Winemaker Tyler LuCarelli, we can't wait to see what he does with these wonderful and finicky grapes.