Antinori: Tuscan Sangiovese has no rivals
One of Italy’s most iconic grape varieties, Sangiovese, has yet to find a “natural home” outside of Tuscany, according to Albiera Antinori.
The 26th generation and first female president of the wine dynasty Antinori told the drinks business that the family’s attempts to grow Sangiovese in California and other regions had never produced wines of “notable quality,” lacking the finesse and elegance of Tuscany’s best examples.
“It is simply the case that Sangiovese does not travel well – even less than Pinot Noir,” said Antinori.
“We planted Sangiovese at Antica, our Napa Valley estate, but after years of experimentation, we decided to pull up the vines. For a number of reasons, mainly the difference of terroir, it was quite difficult to obtain Sangiovese wines with both depth and elegance.”
Nevertheless, in 2008 Antica replanted its Sangiovese at high altitudes, to determine if the variety would benefit from a different position. Yet even higher altitudes and diurnal temperature variation could not produce satisfactory results – the experiment was eventually abandoned
However, Antinori emphasised that the family had not given up on finding a New World terroir where Sangiovese could thrive outside of Italy, although she believes that Tuscany’s primacy remains unchallenged – at least to date.
“Tuscany and Sangiovese have a unique bond that goes back centuries. Here Sangiovese has found an ideal combination of factors which allow its perfect expression in every single Tuscan wine region where it grows,” she said.
“That being said, I cannot exclude that, years from now, we will be able to find another perfect match like the one between Sangiovese and Tuscany.
“New wine territories have been rising recently so one can never know what the future has in store, but until now the most interesting expression of Sangiovese is still is to be found in Tuscany.”
Today, there are approximately 70,820 hectares of Sangiovese planted worldwide, with the vast majority remaining in Tuscany.
Interestingly, Australia is one of the most important outposts for the grape, with a number of producers continuing to champion the variety, despite its lack of consumer renown compared to Merlot and Pinot Noir.
“Our vineyard was planted in 2003 by original company founders and previous owners Alberto Antonini, David Gleave MW and Mark Walpole who recognised Heathcote as a perfect place to plant Sangiovese,” said Simon Lee, sales and marketing manager at Greenstone Vineyards.
“Whilst it has nowhere near the marketshare of other notable red varietals, it’s still a good seller for us.”