EducateSangiovese: Italy vs. Chile

Sangiovese: Italy vs. Chile

Sangiovese, a grape known for its role in top-tier wines, showcases how geography can shape a wine’s character. We did a side-by-side comparison of Sangiovese from its home in Italy to the newer terrains of Chile. This gave us a clear view of how terroir influences wine, from flavor to history. This comparison provided a unique lens to observe the differences in these wonderful wines! 

Terroir and Regions

Italy’s Sangiovese

Italian Sangiovese is predominantly associated with Tuscany, a region with rolling hills, ancient terraced vineyards, and a favorable climate. The terroir here is a complex with limestone-rich soil, alongside clay, schist, and chalky marl. The diversity in soil composition, combined with a climate characterized by hot, sunny days and cool evenings, profoundly influences the growth and development of the Sangiovese. Italian Sangiovese brings to the table a complex blend of cherry and plum flavors with earthy undernotes, supported by a backbone of acidity and tannins.

Chile’s Sangiovese

Conversely, Sangiovese can be found in a significantly different landscape. In Chile, the grape adapts beautifully. The central regions are balanced by the Andean air and Pacific cool breezes. Plus, the soil offers a terroir of volcanic soils which provides great drainage. Chile’s Sangiovese is fruit-forward, with a juicy red fruit profile and softer spice touches. It’s approachable, with less acidity and gentler tannins compared to its Italian counterpart.

Flavor Profiles

Italian Sangiovese displayed a rigorous complexity and depth, with a flavor profile richly adorned with notes of ripe cherry, fresh red plum, and subtle earthy undertones reminiscent of dried herbs, violets, and terracotta. Its high acidity and firm tannic structure makes a wine that is suitable for aging. If aged, it will potentially have softer, more rounded textures over time. 

In Short: Italian Sangiovese is all about depth, with ripe cherry, red plum, and a touch of earthiness. It’s structured, with notable acidity and tannins and has aging potential.

In contrast, Chilean Sangiovese presents a more fruit-forward character, with a brighter, almost jammy quality of red fruits. It also boasts traces of sweet spices and a smoother tannin profile. The wine’s acidity, though present, was noticeably less pronounced than its Italian counterpart, making for a wine that felt more immediately accessible and perhaps less conditioned for the long haul of aging.

In Short: Chilean Sangiovese has a brighter, fruitier taste. It’s easygoing with red fruit flavors and a hint of sweet spices, presenting a more accessible profile right off the bat.

Historical Context 

Italy’s history with Sangiovese stretches back centuries, deeply intertwined with the cultural and agricultural tapestry of the region. Sangiovese’s prominence in Tuscany is unchallenged, serving as the backbone of notable wines such as Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino. The grape’s revered status is a product of both tradition and meticulous regulation, with significant attention paid to preserving the integrity and heritage of Sangiovese-based wines through strict DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) standards.

Chile, though a relative newcomer to Sangiovese cultivation, has quickly established a reputation for producing notable wines from this varietal, capitalizing on the country’s diverse climates to experiment and refine their viticultural approach. The history of Sangiovese in Chile is part of a broader narrative of innovation and expansion in the country’s wine industry, which, over the past few decades, has been exploring the potential of European grape varieties within its borders.

Final Thoughts 

Our head-to-head of Sangiovese from Italy and Chile spotlights terroir’s significant role in wine characteristics. Each wine tells a story of its region through flavors, structures, and historical traditions. It’s a celebration of Sangiovese’s versatility and a reminder of the rich dialogue between grape and ground. Whether you’re into the classic depth of Italy or the brighter notes of Chile, Sangiovese offers a world of taste to explore. While each wine unmistakably expressed the core identity of the Sangiovese grape, their divergent flavor profiles, structural components, and overall expressions bore testament to the profound influence of their respective regions’ soil compositions, climates, and viticultural traditions. This exploration not only highlights the versatility and adaptability of Sangiovese as a global wine varietal but also celebrates the rich tapestry of factors that converge to create the unique narrative of each bottle.



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