Four Wineries That Got Me to Like Sangiovese

I went to Piedmont because I absolutely love Nebbiolo and Arneis. Going there was a bit of a pilgrimage for me. But going to Tuscany? That was because my friends wanted to go. The fact of the matter is, I've never been a huge fan of Sangiovese. In fact, I think I've only ever mentioned it in a post about cheese. It's just never been my preferred grape, and Tuscany has never been my preferred wine region. I'll admit my experience with it was limited to mass-produced, fairly uninteresting wines. It didn't inspire me!

So when my friends invited me along to Florence and Tuscany I mostly said yes because I wanted to hang out with them. But there was also another underlying reason: I wanted Sangiovese to win me over. I wanted it to sweep me off my feet! I wanted to fall in love with it in the Tuscan countryside just like so many have before me.

And I'm here to tell you: it did. Sangiovese won me over. I know, I know: I'm late to the party. Fashionably late, ok?! I'm here now, and I've got four tremendous wineries in Chianti to thank for it.

Keep reading to learn about distinct, special Chianti from some of the kindest, most dedicated winemakers I've ever met. And to find out which winery's story moved me to tears. (No joke. I actually cried!)
Chianti is a region in Tuscany known for red blends of primarily Sangiovese. For a primer, check out Wine Folly.

At Solatione

Solatione

In a region where every square inch is breathtaking, could Solatione be the most beautiful property of all? I'm not sure (since I haven't seen them all) but I can promise you that these views are at or near the top. (See photo above.)

This family-run winery had their first harvest in 1974 but didn't start bottling their own wines until 1992. Today they make a range of four wines, three of which we had the opportunity to taste: Chianti Classico DOCG (85% Sangiovese, 5% Colorino and Canaiolo, 10% Merlot), Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG (90% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot), and Rossombroso IGT Toscana (a Super Tuscan of 100% Merlot). All are aged on Slavonion oak.

My favorite wine at Solatione: Chianti Classico DOCG. This wine is spicy, fresh, and incredibly bright! My first Chianti in Chianti, and it didn't disappoint! Red cherry, cranberry, violet, red pepper flake, white pepper, and oregano notes fuse together to create the most perfect pizza wine ever.

Il Palagio di Panzano

Another gorgeous property! And this one you can stay at. And they have a pool. (If anyone wants to go, hit me up. Just saying.)

At Palagio di Panzano we enjoyed their Rosato IGT Toscana, Chianti Classico DOCG, and Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG. All 100% Sangiovese. We also ate a truly delicious lunch that included their own olive oil and ended with a glass of vin santo. The Tuscan produce is super vibrant, and it was very nice to relax and share a meal together. Especially since we were drinking a lot of vino!

My favorite wine at Il Palagio di Panzano: Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG. Considering this has seen 24 months on oak, it's still very lively! It had a darker cherry flavor, like black cherry, along with notes of vanilla, cedar, Italian herbs, and a hint of bitter cocoa. This wine would pair well with another Tuscan classic: Florentine steak with rosemary and balsamic.


Vallone di Cecione

Like many in Italy until the end of the 20th century, the Anichini family were sharecroppers in Tuscany, giving half of their harvests to a master. It wasn't until the mid-1980s that they were able to fully cultivate their own land, and it wasn't until 2004 that they started bottling their own wines. (If you're sensing a pattern, this is because many growers either sell their grapes to larger producers or make bulk jug wine.)

Francesco Anichini shared his family's story while pointing out old black and white photos on the walls. These same photos adorn their labels today and can be seen on their website. As Francesco poured us wine, his father Giuliano stepped into the rustic room with a warm smile to briefly greet us. He was clearly so proud of his son, sharing his wine with a bunch of Americans who had traveled a great distance. And yes, that's when I teared up. Do you blame me?!

We tasted their Rosato di Allegra IGT Toscano (100% Sangiovese), Canaiolo IGT Toscano (100% Canaiolo), Chianti Classico DOCG (90% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo), and Campo dell'Orzo IGT Toscana (100% Sangiovese).

My favorite wine at Vallone di Cecione: Campo dell'Orzo. As Francesco writes, "This name describes the small part of land where in the past my grandfather Giovanni (on the label with me in a photo from the early 80’s) cultivated his vegetable garden and where the barley that was used for the family was planted to get food for the animals." The wine is very, very fresh, bright, alive, and lightweight for a Sangiovese. It dances on the palate!

Fact: The black rooster is the symbol of Chianti Classico!

Querceto di Castellina

We were shown around Querceto di Castellina by Mary, an American woman who married the winery's founder, Jacopo, and moved to Italy. If you're not jealous of Mary, then I don't know, maybe have someone check you for a pulse.

The winery celebrated its first vintage in 1998. Today it's still a family-run estate creating organic wines from 28 acres of vines between the villages of Radda and Castellina di Chianti. Their principle vineyard, Belvedere, sprawls out in front of their winery on a broad slope. It is 16.5 acres of Sangiovese and Merlot.

At Querceto di Castellina we ended our day with a number of their fantastic wines: L'aura Chianti Classico DOCG (100% Sangiovese), Sei Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione (100% Sangiovese), Podalirio IGT Toscana (100% Merlot), Furtivo IGT Toscana Rosato (100% Sangiovese), and Livia IGT Toscana Bianco (50% Viognier and 50% Roussanne).

My favorite wine from Querceto di Castellina: Podalirio IGT Toscana. This was probably the hardest winery to pick a favorite! Their Sangioveses were fantastic, but the Merlot Super Tuscan came out on top for its soft and spicy notes of blackberry, mocha, black pepper, and nutmeg. It is velvety and refined! Like a fancy yet comfy Merlot blanket.



A special shout-out and thank you to Angela's Tuscany Tour Time for introducing us to these wineries. We selected them for their focus on small, organic wineries. Our tour guide Francesca was knowledgable and personable. I highly recommend their services!

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