by Fred McMillin
for October 29, 1997
Sangiovese: "California, Here I Come"
Price of Sangiovese vs Cabernet Sauvignon in Cal. (1995)...
Cabernet Sauvignon—$867 per ton
Number of California Wineries Making Sangiovese...
The Rest of the Story: As the numbers indicate, Sangiovese (sahn-JOH-vay-zeh) is the hot-button red wine of California. How did it get here?
1100 B.C.—The Etruscans arrive in central Italy. They cultivate the precursor of Sangiovese. The wine may have been one of the first to ever rest against a cork stopper, since the Etruscans were the first to use that material to seal wine containers.
1722 A.D.—The earliest known mention of the grape in print is made by Giocanvettorio Soderini who notes it is "highly praised for the making of wine." It is the principal grape in what will become Italy's best-known red wine, Chianti.
1880's—A few vines are planted in California but make no waves. They disappear with Prohibition.
1980's—The success of Sangiovese in non-Chianti Italian wines prompts the return of the grape to California.
1995—Six local Sangiovese are entered in the huge California State Fair tasting. While over a thousand entries receive no awards, five of the six Sangiovese garner medals, three in the gold and double-gold categories. That should be no suprise, since Giocanvettorio TOLD us it made "highly praised" wine.
Postscript: The grape's name? Jove, alias Jupiter, was the CEO of the Roman gods. "Sanguis" is the Latin word for blood. Thus, SAN-JOV-vay-zeh is the blood of Jove.
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