Sangiovese Wine: Everything You Need To Know

Sangiovese Wine: Everything You Need To Know


Named after the blood of Jupiter, Roman god of the sky, Sangiovese is Italy’s most-planted wine variety. The Sangiovese grape is one of five varieties grown at Cedar Creek Ranch and Vineyards, chosen for its classic yet exotic taste. They were planted here in 1999 in single vineyard block, thriving upon a bi-lateral trellis system.

Originating from Tuscany and able to adapt easily to its environment, Sangiovese is a red wine that can taste floral and fruity or dark and dry. There’s a Sangiovese wine to pair with your many moods.

Learn about the history, notes, Sangiovese food pairings, and types of Sangiovese wine, and what it brings to the table at Cedar Creek Ranch and Vineyards.

What is Sangiovese Wine? 

Sangiovese, pronounced san-jo-vay-zee, is a red grape varietal originating in Italy. It’s a versatile grape, flourishing in many different environments outside of its native Tuscany—including Mount Aukum, CA, where our vineyards are located. Its versatility creates a difference in taste depending on climate, terroir, blending, and aging. 

What Does Sangiovese Wine Taste Like?

While the Sangiovese grape develops a different range of flavors different depending on its origin of growth, it almost always carries notes of fresh-picked cherries and tomatoes. Other flavors you might taste in a Sangiovese wine include oregano, plum, espresso, sweet balsamic, savory herbs, clay, brick, smoke, and strawberry. After aging in barrels, Sangiovese wine tends undertake oaky, tarry flavors. The Cedar Creek Ranch 2012 Sangiovese also tastes of raspberries, red currant, and rosewater, giving it a deep and exotic flair. The Cedar Creek Ranch 2013 Sangiovese is a limited variety made with only perfect grapes. With a hint of concentrated vanilla and a ripe cherry taste, it’s reminiscent of cherry pie.

Sangiovese is high in tannin and acidity, very dry, and tends to be anywhere from medium to full-bodied. It generally has medium levels of alcohol ranging from 13 to 15% ABV. Sangiovese wine tastes best at room temperature and can last up to ten years. 

History of Sangiovese Wine

Ancient Sangiovese

It’s thought that Sangiovese grapes have grown for over 2,000 years, and some even speculate that Etruscan ancient civilization produced this variety. Legend has it that the name Sangiovese (from the Italian sanguis Jovis, or blood of Jove, another name for Jupiter) was coined by monks at the Santarcangelo di Romagna in the Emilia-Romagna region of east-central Italy.

It is generally believed that the first historical mention of Sangiovese was in the 1590 writings of Giovan Vettorio Soderini, an Italian agronomist. He noted that it was a good wine but required careful attention not to turn to vinegar. 

Despite its long history, the Sangiovese grape did not achieve widespread popularity until the 16th to 18th centuries. During this time, its popularity grew in its native region of Tuscany. To this day, central Italy leads the world in Sangiovese production, although the grape is also grown in Australia and the west coast of the United States.

In 1872, Baron Bettino Ricasoli created the formula for Chianti using Sangiovese grapes. Chianti is one of the main types of wine made with Sangiovese grapes. 

Sangiovese Wine in the United States

The Sangiovese variety of wine arrived in America thanks to Italian immigrants in the late 19th Century. Today, the top Sangiovese wines originate from the Northern California vineyard regions, including in Amador County region of the Sierra Foothills—where Cedar Creek vineyards lie. Not only known for its top-quality grapes, this ares is also famous for its historical significance during the gold rush. Amador County is right next to the state’s capital city, Sacramento. The Sierra Foothills include a wider region; besides Amador County, it includes Calaveras, El Dorado, Mariposa, Nevada, Placer, Tuolumne and Yuba. 

Growing and Making Sangiovese Wine

Though it adapts well to different soil types and climates, Sangiovese grapes thrive in soil high in limestone. The grape is slow to ripen, so it requires a long growing season, allowing the Sangiovese grape to develop richness and body. It’s usually harvested in mid to late October. 

Sangiovese is often blended with other wines in order to moderate its high acidity. Another technique often employed to improve the taste of Sangiovese is extending the grape’s maceration period from the typical one week to four weeks in order to allow enough time for the grape skins to leach out phenols. 

The higher elevation of Northern California vineyards and cool climate intensify the fruit and add a well-balanced acidity. Wine grapes began to grow here during the gold rush when many people migrated Westward in search of their fortune in the gold mines. Now, this region is often referred to as the American Viticultural Area (AVA). 

Thanks to the Mediterranean climate of California, and especially within the Sierra Foothills, European old-style wines are popular to make in these regions. Nevertheless, Sangiovese is relatively hard to find, and makes up only about half of 1 percent of California red wines. Their rarity is what makes them so special.

What To Eat With Sangiovese Wine

It might go without saying, but Sangiovese wine tastes wonderful with Italian food. Because of its medium body, Sangiovese pairs well with a wide variety of vegetable and herb-heavy dishes, grilled foods, tomato, and red pepper. In particular, Chianti is a great choice for pizza and tomato-based pasta sauces. 

If you’re drinking a high-tannin Sangiovese like the Chianti, the full-bodied taste pairs well with roasted and smoked meat, cured sausages, and hard cheeses like Parmesan and Provolone.

Cedar Creek Vineyards prepares wines in the traditional Chianti style, one of the more versatile varieties of Sangiovese wine when it comes to food. Enjoy a rich glass of Chianti while snacking on an artisanal cheese plate or a brick-oven Neapolitan pizza.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a great wine to pair with Italian food, you love a high-acid, high-tannin, dry red wine, try Cedar Creek Ranch and Vineyards’ Sangiovese!

Visit us in the Sierra Foothills, San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, or at the Ranch Vineyards to try our Sangiovese wines.