The grape behind Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino is grown throughout Italy, but it shows reluctance to travel beyond its home territory.
As Sangiovese is the dominant grape in that great wine province, Tuscany, you'd expect there to be more experimentation around the world with this juicy, cherry-laden variety. However, even in its native land, there's good Sangiovese and there's bad Sangiovese.
In its Tuscan home, Sangiovese achieves greatness both as a solo performer and in blends. It's beginning to appear in other parts of the world, although so far only with limited success.
While Sangiovese crops up almost everywhere you go in Italy, it's best known for its exploits in Tuscany. Here it is used for Chianti, Vini Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino, as well as for some Super-Tuscans, for which it often performs solo, but frequently has support from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah. Other successful versions can also be found in Umbria and Emilia-Romagna. In other countries, its performance has been more patchy.
The Italian influence in both Argentina and Australia means that there's some Sangiovese planted, but nothing so far has shone. California is enjoying more success, although the Tuscans needn't get frightened just yet.
Sangiovese occupies nearly 10 percent of the vineyard area in Italy.
Any guesses at a literal translation of Sangiovese?
It's 'the blood of Jove.'