Just to be (almost totally) contrarian . . .
Let me repeat Maria Lorraine's advice: If you want Sangiovese, go Italian! And while it's true that Sangiovese is widely grown throughout Italy, as RicRios properly reminds us, NOWHERE does it excel to such heights as it does within Tuscany, specifically within the various districts of Chianti -- none more famous than Chianti Classico, followed closely (IMHO) by Chianti Rufina. If you can buy a Riserva bottling, so much the better.
If you taste a top-quality California Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc . . . the list goes on . . . and taste its European counterpart(s), you will most certainly see the "family resemblance." Not so, IMHO, with Sangiovese or Nebbiolo. Or at least, I've yet to taste one where I can easily and readily do so.
This doesn't mean that California (or Washington) doesn't produce good wines using Sangiovese grapes. Indeed, several have already been mentioned, and they can be quite enjoyable. HOWEVER, none of them taste -- to me; let me stress that, TO ME -- like Sangiovese. Nice red wines? Yes. Nice wines full of Sangiovese character??? Well, if they're from Tuscany . . . but not if they are grown in California or Washington State. Not yet, anyway.
I suspect that:
a) it is a clonal selection problem (that is, there is no reason why good wines from Sangiovese [or Nebbiolo] grapes -- WITH good varietal character -- cannot be produced in the New World); and,
b) I suspect we are still 5-10 years away from doing do, and another 5+ years beyond that before we can do so consistently!
Yes, please go Italian if you love Sangiovese. You won't pay any more, maye even less for Italian Sangiovese, and it will be far far better.
Here's a short list from last year with last year's prices. Some great buys here. The Sangiovese grown in western Tuscany (the Maremma) is called Morellino after their word for cherry. It's the same grape.
Querciabella 2003 – $18, love this wine, see if you can find the 2003
Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva, a steal at $18
Nozzole, Chianti Classico Riserva, about $22
Ruffino Chianti Riserva $22 or Riserva Ducale Oro $35, avoid the "Il Ducale"
Castello Banfi, "Collepino" 2005, $10, or their Riserva
Isole e Olena, regular or the Cepparello ($$), great benchmark winery
Il Poggione, Rosso di Montalcino 2003, about $22 (had one of the greatest wine experiences of my life at this winery), also their Brunello, but that’s too expensive
Siro Pacenti, Rosso di Montalcino -- incredible, about $25
Argiano – anything they make, terrific winery, the Rosso is about $38
Nozzole, Chianti Classico Riserva, “La Forra” – stylish, lovely fruit, about $40
Dievole Chianti Classico, about $18, the Riserva Novecento is $40
Coltibuono, Chianti “Cetamura”, $12
Banfi or Banti (two different wineries), Morellino di Scansano, $12 – $18, the Val delle Rose Riserva is about $22 and worth it – usually the Morellinos are great buys.
Stay away from the 2002 vintage.
I suspect more than clonal selection it's varietal vigor. Sangiovese grows like kudzu, faster than fast. It can take all your efforts simply to manage foliage that shoots out a few feet overnight. The vine constantly pumps out greenery and far too much fruit, requiring constant cutting back and not one, but many, green harvests (cluster thinning) to get good juice concentration. It's a monster vine -- really. I don't believe American growers know that they have to stay on top of Sangiovese like they should. The result far too often is insipid fruit lacking in varietal character, with vegetal and -- the worst -- foxy flavors to boot. Ugh.
It's in Tuscany that the grape shines. Though the newest clones being used there for Sangiovese there are more black fruit in flavor and not the refreshing red fruit that typifies Sangiovese.
Thank you everyone for the great suggestions! I'll be looking into these.
The original wine I had was actually from Big Bowl. I'm somewhat embarassed to admit it but I just loved it and can't find it on their site. I recently tried a Sangiovese in an authentic Italian restaurant but didn't find I liked it the same (this one was more astringent and deeper).
I will definitely look into these suggestions!
re: Chew on That
re: Chew on That
If I'm understanding correctly, Big Bowl is a restaurant? (Sorry, not familiar with it) I'd suggest calling or stopping by to get the specifics on the wine you liked.
If you liked the wine you had there, and then not so much another sangio you had in another restaurant, it would be really good to have the specifics on both wines so that you can try wines more in the style of the wine you liked and not the wine you didn't.
With all respect to the other posters, their suggestions seem much more to me about what they like than about what you might like. While this made sense when we had no info about your choice, now, with the bit you've provided so far, I am just not sure what you liked so much about that first wine in order to feel good about suggesting others.
Also- what did you have to eat with the one you liked so much? Wines can taste very differently depending on how they are paired or not with food.
That is one garbled, contradictory post...
The OP asked: "Does anyone else have a sangiovese they recommend?" So Chowhounds made Sangiovese recommendations.
You said in response that "their suggestions seem much more to me about what they like than about what you might like."
So, um, that's a little weird to say. Especially when you yourself also say that you're "just not sure what [the OP] liked so much about that first wine in order to feel good about suggesting others."
re: maria lorraine
Sorry if it seems weird to you; it was my reaction to reading the posts. May not be your reaction, but it was my reaction.
In my OP, I asked for more specifics because so many previous threads have seemed to me to go the way of Italy sangios are so much better than California. Which is fine that many posters feel that way. But how much does that help someone who does like a sangio from somewhere in California, and it does happen to be particularly fruit forward???
So until we heard more from the OP about what specific wine she had and what she liked about it, it seemed, and still seems to me that the recs were more about what posters liked than what the OP might like, based on what she had.
Sorry if my thoughts came off garbled or contradictory to you, as I said, they still make sense to me.
On the other hand (caffeine starting to kick in), the OP asked for sangio recommendations and people supplied them. So perhaps I should have just kept my thoughts to myself about the need to understand more about what the person liked in that sangio before supplying specific recs. Apologies to all.
Souvenir, your post made sense to me. You had already linked to the discussions of domestic Sangiovese in your very first post, so without clarification, some discussion of Italian examples seemed in order. Based on the new information, I think Chew on That might enjoy some of the Italian Sangiovese blends with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Castello del Terriccio, “Tassiniaia” ; La Menaces , “Camerte” and Velenosi, Roggio del Filare are examples, but there are many that a wine shop could recommend.
In the bold, domestic Sangiovese category, the 2005 Naggiar vineyards, Sierra Foothills, Estate is a big one at a reasonable price ($19). The reasonable price issue is something that’s often missing from CA renderings. I enjoy the hunt for Sangiovese and just recently purchased a bottle of Long Creek ($10), which is nicely made but more of a “with food” version.
It's always good to try to ascertain what a wine drinker likes about a particular wine in order to suggest other wines of that ilk that s/he may also like. That's admirable.
That is, if that information is available.
It wasn't in this case, except for the barest hint about Big Bowl. So of course Chowhound wine drinkers suggested what they like. That's what they do!
And did. In the thread Souvenir began (the second one s/he linked to, above), there are many Italian and American recommendations that are the same as those on this thread.
The Sangiovese the OP liked is very possibly the Bonny Doon Ca’ del Solo Sangiovese, as that’s the one on the Chicago Big Bowl wine list. (I called.)
In which case, this wine is known for cherry fruit and easy drinkability. As well as good acidity and friendly tannins. By the way, those are the defining characteristics of Italian Sangiovese for the last ten years.
The Bonny Doon Ca’ del Solo Sangiovese ($15) is widely distributed in Chicago at Sam’s and the Wine Discount Center retail stores, so more of it is easy to find.
Some of the Chianti recommendations are excellent, and are at, or below, the Ca’ del Solo Sangiovese price.
Some of the best buys are the Morellino wines (you will often see Morellino di Scansano). Scansano is a city in Maremma, the western region of Tuscany, and morellino means “little cherry” (appropriate for Sangiovese, no?) in the Maremma dialect. Since Morellino is the unadvertised, undiscovered Sangiovese (and the Maremma doesn’t get the same marketing focus as Tuscany), the wines are well-priced.
Though it’s not Sangiovese, Nero d’Avola (the red wine of Sicily) has many similar characteristics of the Ca’ del Solo Sangiovese: cherry fruit, drinkability, nice acidity and integrated tannins. My favorite is the Morgante, though there are many Nero d’Avolas made and they are quite inexpensive. Lots of recs on the Wine Board -- a search will easily unearth them.
The Sangiovese di Romagna wines have a similar simplicity to the Ca’ del Solo Sangiovese, so that’s a good rec from BN1, though that wine may be difficult to find, and even disappointing if you don’t get a good one. (Sometimes that simplicity translates to completely uninteresting.) So be sure to ask for recommendations before purchasing the Romagna Sangiovese, or visit Cellartracker.com and do a search to find consumer comments. Perhaps BN1 can guide you further if you wish to pursue this.
By the way, Chew On That (great Chowhound name), you could take those four wine characteristics -- cherry fruit, drinkability, nice acidity and integrated tannins -- to any wine store and find more wines similar to the Bonny Doon Ca’ del Solo Sangiovese you liked so much.
Good luck to you.
re: maria lorraine
Maria, that's a perfect warning about Sangiovese di Romagna and reflects my experience. I also agree that the OP might enjoy the Maremma examples. All this information helps when one encounters a more extensive Italian wine list, even if these specific suggestions are not found. At Il Moro in LA, they suggested the 2000 Velenosi, Roggio del Filare and I thought "Oh Boy!" because I really like Sangiovese from Le Marche and it was very reasonably priced. Also, you'll appreciate that a local restaurant stocked a case of 2001Il Poggione Brunello for me charging only $50 to keep my taste buds in working order, I guess.
If the OP is interested in Italian Sangiovese, there are many areas in Italy from which to choose. I have had examples from:
Montalcino (Brunello, Rosso, Super Tuscan)
Montepulciano (Vino Nobile)
Chianti (Chianti, Sangiovese)
Maremma (Tuscan Blends)
(Sangiovese, Sangiovese Blends)
(Sangiovese di Romagna)
We are lucky to have available the wonderful wine guide from Gambero Rosso, “Italian Wines 2008” (the current edition) available in English from Amazon.com, etc. It rates most of the finer wines in Italy, although I’ve enjoyed several wonderful wines not listed from smaller producers, I believe. The top rating is 3 glasses and there are examples of Sangiovese with the top award from all the areas I‘ve listed.
The exploration of Italian Sangiovese is a wonderful trip. I find that I enjoy those grown in the more mountainous areas of Tuscany and Le Marche, rather than the lower elevations like Maremma and Emilia Romagna. I like the leaner, more focused flavors. I tried a Brunello grown from grapes on only the southern exposure in Montalcino, but found that I prefer the sharper flavors of the normal blending of northern and southern exposures. There are different types of Sangiovese grapes grown in these areas. However, Montalcino and Montepulciano use the same one and I prefer the Vino Nobile de Montepulciano over the Rosso de Montalcino I have tried. And so on, there is so much to try.
But perhaps the OP was referring to Sangiovese from the U.S.
My best recommendation for you is to read the threads on good buys in Chianti. If you can afford a Riserva, then try one or more of those.
Here's a great thread to read.
Besides Chianti recommendations, you will see reference to Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino, both of which are made from the Sangiovese grosso grape, as it used to be called. While Brunello may be beyond your budget, you can find some good Rosso di Montalcino buys. Try the Rossos as well as the Chiantis. Good luck.
I too am a fan of sangioveses! What sangio did you have that you liked so much? Would help to know what it was more specifically. Also what price range are you thinking?
Here are a couple of recent threads you might find useful, if you haven't already seen them:
Even though the title is California Montepulciano, sangios more broadly are mentioned.
This thread is about relatively inexpensive everyday Italian sangios/sangio blends. I started this one, and have purchased some of the suggested wines, but haven't found the time yet to do the tasting. A cold interrupted my ability to taste or enjoy wine for awhile. I have also had a harder time tracking some of the wines down than I expected.