Tuscany and its Sangiovese

Last month I tasted a few excellent wines from Tuscany, which were all produced with different Sangiovese clones. I thought this makes for a nice post about Tuscany’s most important red grape variety.

Of Tuscan Origins?

From north to south and from east to west – Sangiovese is grown in (almost) every corner of Tuscany. Ever since the noble Biondi Santi family successfully experimented with clones of this dark-skinned variety in Montalcino in the 19th century there has been an international demand for Tuscan Sangiovese wines. However, Sangiovese has been cultivated for many centuries in Central Italy and few very good ones are not even from Tuscany but from Le Marche (Rosso Piceno Superiore DOC) and Emilia-Romagna (Sangiovese di Romagna DOC). Outside of Italy these wines are often under-appreciated mainly because Tuscan wineries did an excellent job at marketing the likes of Vino Nobile and Brunello. Sangiovese, however, is not a native grape from Tuscany. Long before it was planted on the scenic Tuscan hills it had been grown in the Romagna, the south-eastern portion of present day Emilia-Romagna.

Even though both wines for today’s review are connected to the medieval town Montalcino only one of them comes from that area. The grapes for the other wine are grown much closer to the coast in the heart of the Maremma, which is known for its Morellino di Scansano.

2006 Jacopo Biondi Santi – Sassoalloro – Toscana IGT

As mentioned earlier, the Biondi Santi family “invented” the Brunello by planting Sangiovese clones in Montalcino. They winery is still operating in present-day and is run by Franco Biondi Santi. Another descendent of the Biondi Santi family, Jacopo Biondi Santi, runs a winery near Scansano in the province of Grosseto where he is growing Sangiovese on the hills near his castle Castello di Montepò. So far, so good. Growing Sangiovese in the Maremma is not uncommon at all so why I am telling you this? Because the clone that is predominately grown in the Maremma is known as Morellino. Jacobo Biondi Santi cultivates a clone named Sangiovese Grosso, which is mostly found near Montalcino to produce Brunello. The clone he uses is called BSB 11 (Brunello Biondi Santi 11). So there you have it: The connection to Montalcino.

Castello di Montepò

Castello di Montepò near Scansano

2006 Jacopo Biondi Santi - Sassoalloro - Toscana IGTJacobo Biondi Santi produces next to five red wines also olive oil and grappa. Sassoallora is a red wine that is produced with 100% Sangiovese Grosso. After fermentation the wine aged for 14 months in French barrique. The wine’s appellation is Toscana IGT.

It should be noted that this was a magnum bottle and as most of you know wine ages differently in magnum bottles than it does in regular 0.75 liter bottles. The wine was opened several hours before drinking.

In the glass, Sassoalloro had a ruby red color. 14% was the label listed alcohol by volume.

On the nose there was a good mix of barrique and fruit aromas. The wine opened with plums, black cherries and roasted coffee. After a while, aromas of earth, cinnamon and viola became more intense.

After taking a sip I tasted red cherries. The wine showed also some earthy notes and very little licorice. Sassoallora was dry, rather complex and quite elegant. Full bodied with mellow, pleasing tannins and a moderate acidity. The finish could not match a Brunello and was of medium length. The wine was appreciated by all and the magnum was empty too soon! It’s lighter than most Brunello and also a bit “easier to drink”. Sassoalloro reminded me a bit of the little brother of a good Brunello.

Rating: 3.5/5

Find the 2006 Jacobo Biondi Santi Sassoalloro on Wine Searcher.

2001 Tenute Loacker – Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

Loacker remains one of my favorite Brunello producers and I have previously reviewed some vintages of the Loacker Brunello including the outstanding 2006 vintage and the excellent 2003 Brunello Riserva.

Today we will take a look at the 2001 vintage, which is considered an overall very good vintage for Brunello di Montalcino but not as stunning as the 2004 & 2006 vintages.

Tenute Loacker is a winemaker family that has its roots in South Tyrol but which has expanded into Tuscany. Loacker operates a winery in the Maremma and one in Montalcino called Corte 2001 Tenute Loacker Brunello di MontalcinoPavone.

The 2001 Tenute Loacker Brunello is made with 100% Sangiovese Grosso. The wine underwent a long 30-day fermentation process and aged for more than three years in large oak barrels and French barriques. It is classified as Brunello di Montalcino DOCG.

Prior to drinking the wine was decanted for a little less than an hour.

In the glass there was a garnet red color with chocolate-brown shades. 14% was the indicated ABV.

The bouquet was composed of an intense aroma of marasca cherry, a bit of blueberry and some tobacco. There were also elements of smoke and cocoa.

On the palate, the Loacker Brunello was dry, a little sapid and elegant and very harmonic. Full-bodied, heavy, powerful and of good structure. The Brunello was still vivid after all those years. There were notes of  ripe cherries and dark chocolate. Lingering aftertaste.

Rating: 4/5

Looking for this wine? Try Wine Searcher.

Parting Words

Both wines are highly recommended. The 2001 Loacker Brunello should be consumed in the near future. If you are thinking about purchasing a bottle of Loacker Brunello that you can store some more time I suggest buying bottles of the 2006 vintage. I served only a small platter of ripe cheeses with it because the Brunello was opened rather spontaneously. I attended a Brunello masterclass with a friend and we both were very disappointed by all Brunello that were served during the tasting so we were in need of a good Brunello and opened that bottle after the tasting. That’s also the reason why I decided not to write a post about the Brunello masterclass.

Jacopo Biondi Santi positively surprised me with his Sassoalloro and I’m looking forward to drink it again. The wine was paired with spicy lamb sticks and a mix of Mediterranean vegetables.

What’s your opinion on these two wines? Let me know in the comment section below. Cheers!


15 comments on “Tuscany and its Sangiovese”

  1. Andy Andy Reply

    Someday I know I’ll make it to Tuscany and visit all these amazing wineries. I haven’t tried the the Sassoaloro yet but the story behind the wine is nice.
    Sorry to hear that the Brunello masterclass which you attended was a flop.

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      No worries.. I hope the next Brunello masterclass will be better 🙂 The same day I also attended a pretty good Franciacorta masterclass.

  2. Sean P. Reply

    Great post, Julian. I regularly drink Loacker Rosso di Montalcino – it’s a good (and more reasonably priced) alternative for Brunello. I visited Corte Pavone in the May of 2012 and tried some Brunnello vintages. Very impressive wines!


  3. talkavino Reply

    I have a bottle of 2006 Corte Pavone Brunello, which I plan to open at some later time. Sassoalloro label looks familiar, but I don’t remember the wine at all.

    Sorry to hear about bad Masterclass. so there was not even one one which you liked? When I went for the Brunello seminar in New York, many wines were quite good…

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      2006 is among the best vintages for Brunello of the last few decades. I hope you’ll like this Brunello as much as I do.
      Maybe you saw Sassoallora at VinItaly? That’s where I tried the wine for the first time.

      The masterclass was a disaster. All Brunello were from the new 2009 vintage and all from rather unknown producers, which did not have any importers in Munich/Germany yet. One or two of the Brunello were ok but I would not buy any of them. I also attended a masterclass for Franciacorta, which was much better 🙂

        • Julian Rossello Reply

          Your Brunello masterclass including more wines than the one I attended but there are a two Brunello that we both tried in our respective masterclass.

          2009 Col d’ Orcia Brunello. I rated this wine with a 3/5.
          2009 Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello. This Brunello I liked a little better than the one from Col d’Orcia and rated it with 3/5.
          My “favorite” Brunello from the masterclass was from Tenuta di Sesta, which I gave a rating of 3.5/5.

          All Brunello were too young, rather tannic and a few also a bit green. I’m sure that at least some of them will taste better in a few years. In my opinion it would have been smarter to serve Brunello from the 2006 vintage, which is now ready to drink.

          I saw that you also tasted the Loacker Brunello and that it’s one of the few that you gave a rating higher than 7. I haven’t tried the 2009 Loacker Brunello vintage yet but I’m looking forward to do so in a few years. Loacker didn’t submit their Brunello to the masterclass because they already have multiple importers in Munich. The Brunello from il Grappolo sounds also very good. Will see if I can find that one in Munich.


          • talkavino

            I agree that 2009 is too young, but this is what the importers are bringing into the country now, so they had to show it. 2010 Rosso were a lot more drinkable 🙂

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      That’s unfortunate. Have you already looked for a newer vintage? 2006 is not the current vintage so it’s a possibility that one of the wine stores in your area might carry the current one.

  4. winetalks winetalks Reply

    I still have a case of 2004 Corte Pavone Brunello and have recently bought a bottle of 2009 Corte Pavone Brunello.
    What do you think of those two? Have you tasted them before?

    • Julian Rossello Reply

      I like the 2004 Loacker Brunello a lot but have only traded it on a could of occasions. So far I’ve not tasted the 2009 vintage. It’s way too young to be drank anyways. I’d keep that one for some time before opening it.

  5. RiojaChianti RiojaChianti Reply

    Sassoalloro is one of my favorite Maremma wines. Good QPR and so delicious! Love it 🙂

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