28 Sep Sanguineto: A Tale of Two Sisters and Sangiovese
Sanguineto is a Tuscan winery located in Montepulciano that produces Nobile di Montepulciano (among four other wines) not to be confused with Montalcino which is famous for producing Brunello. These two cities are only 35 minutes apart, but are vastly different from each other in terms of their history and their wines. In a separate article, I will delve more into this history, but we can at least understand about one of the highest quality wines I tasted while visiting nearly all of the approximately 70 wineries in Montepulciano.
Nobile di Montepulciano must have a minimum 70% Sangiovese or Prugnolo Gentile as it is called locally. It can be blended with other varieties that are authorized in Tuscany. It also must be aged two years before release and at least one in oak. The Riserva at least three years aging before release. The top producers usually don’t blend, but instead release a 100% Sangiovese.
Upon my recent visit to Montepulciano where I was in pursuit of some of the finest examples of Sangiovese wines, I visited Sanguineto. I emailed them prior to my arrival to ask for an appointment and my email was met with a rather curt “If you don’t understand Italian than you will not understand our wines”. In Italian, I replied and asked for an appointment once again reiterating the fact that I spoke and understand the language quite well. No response.
I consider myself to be a very assertive man so I opted to pick up the telephone and call them instead. My attempt by phone was successful as they then invited me to visit them the following Monday between 10-10:30 am. I was elated to finally be visiting the winery. Upon my arrival Monday morning, I called and knocked on the door, no answer. I decided to wander into the cantina and came face to face with the more amicable sister named Dora.
She immediately burst into a giant smile with a wizened face, but kind eyes that revealed the stories of a woman of 50-60 years old. She guided me out of the cantina to begin our journey through the vineyards to understand her farming philosophies better. While we were leaving for the vineyards the second sister Patrizia, who is quite different in her approach and appeared a bit miserable, came out of the house where I had been knocking and yelled loudly, “We have no water so I cannot wash anymore wine glasses to set up the tasting room.”
Dora flashed a nervous smile at me and asked her sister, “Could you please set up the tasting room with glasses for me as I am just going to walk through the vineyard with Roger.” Most people at this point would have turned away and been a bit uncomfortable, but I could sense a certain magical characteristic to Dora as she was so proud to share with me the love of her vines so I remained resolute.
When we ventured into the vineyard I saw something incredible I had never seen before!
100-year old vines cut off a foot above the ground with a graft of rootstock onto the vine and then a second graft of the graft! This was something I had never seen in my 20 years of touring vineyards all around the world.
Why was this so remarkable?
In the past, people ripped out many of the old vines thinking that they were bad. On the contrary, old vines are good as they have a very deep root system which allows it to reach different minerals and water deep in the soil bed. This means that the wines made from such a vine will be full of complexity and elegance yet more concentrated. The vineyard was also full of natural grass growing between and she told me they try not to interfere and be as organic as possible. In the vineyard the vines were a perfect dream full of energy and life, which led me to believe that there is a healthy biodiversity in place at her vineyard.
She explained to me her pruning and vinification techniques that were taught to her by her father. Some of the highlights included using all natural indigenous yeasts for spontaneous and natural fermentation. They used cement tanks for their white blend. She was really quite a tomboy and worked the fields herself even having the scarred hands to prove it. She was so proud and told me that her sister Patrizia was the one that handles the commercial part of the business. (I didn’t have the heart to tell her that her sister Patrizia was not very welcoming at the vineyard and that maybe they should switch roles).
We then went to the tasting room where we were told by Patrizia that the water wasn’t working again. I told her not to worry that I am fine with just one glass as I am a professional and can taste all the wines with just one. I was also there with a friend and Patricia returned with one glass for the two of us which was now almost comical at this point. (Dora went and procured another glass for us.) The first wine she poured was their white blend; it was stunning, juicy and crisp with cleansing acidity that had an extremely long finish. The second wine was their Rosso di Montepulciano. The moment it entered my mouth I was in heaven!
Licorice, violet, bright cherry, and spices that were so intense it lit up my soul. The Rosso was aged just one year in oak, the Nobile two years in oak and the Riserva three years in oak. Each red wine got sequentially better and more elegant. All of my interesting experiences of the day seemed to melt away as I drank this nectar of the gods. All of their wines had such complex and powerful bouquets yet elegance and precision in the mouth. I love wines with tension, acidity and fruit and these had them in abundance. As I got up to leave I realized I may have tasted the very best wine in Montepulciano that day. It also reminded me once again why Sangiovese is one of the best wines in the world. I loved this wine so much that I decided to purchase a few cases from Dora.
Looking forward until the next time when I get to pop one of these bottles. I hope all of you get to enjoy this nectar of the gods too. You can order a bottle from this wine shop in NYC.
I highly recommend it as one of the best wines in all of Montepulciano. I wouldn’t recommend visiting the winery however.
I would love to hear from you about what area or region you would love to learn more about next. Follow my adventures on Instagram or Facebook. And if you enjoyed reading this post, please feel free to share.
Until next time my wine friends!