Angullong Fossil Hill Sangiovese 2017
Sangiovese is the most commonly grown red grape in Italy and presently accounts for 250 000 acres of plantings and almost 10 % of all winemaking grapes planted in the country. It’s a versatile fruit that does best through the middle of the of the “boot” and in recent years it has been expanding its footprint in vineyards, both internationally and here in Australia.
The name Sangiovese is thought to be derived from the Latin sanguis Jovis – meaning “the blood of Jupiter”. But as with any historical fact, there is a degree of conjecture, but the term is generally thought to have been coined by monks because of its deep purple colour. The grape is the sole fruit in some iconic Italian red styles like Brunello di Montalcino (one of my faves!) and Rosso di Montalcino. It has also been a spectacularly successful contributor to classic blends like Chianti and the contemporary golden child of the Italian industry, Super-Tuscan reds (as they are called).
Outside of Italy Sangiovese has been steadily growing in popularity with both winemakers and consumers alike. Largely thanks to an introduction by Italian migrants, the grape has done quite well in places like Argentina, California and Chile but in Australia it wasn’t until the 1960’s that the CSIRO brought in a clone for use by local vignerons. And from humble beginnings, the style has begun to attract a good deal of attention. There are sizable plantings in regions like the Barossa, Langhorne Creek, Margaret River (WA) and even Stanthorpe in Queensland but somewhat surprisingly, one of the best ones I’ve had the privilege to try hails from the Orange Region in central NSW.
The 2016 Angullong Fossil Hill Sangiovese was a stunning example that earned 96 points from Aussie wine guru, James Halliday! Not surprisingly it sold out pretty quickly and you’ll struggle to find any now, but the 2017 release has just hit the shelves at a very reasonable $26 price point. The vineyard is nestled in the foothills of Mount Canobolas where it enjoys the benefits of high altitude, a cooler climate and perhaps most importantly, limestone-laced soils. Some of the best Italian Sangiovese comes from the town of Montalcino in the province of Siena in Tuscany. There, the limestone soils seem to increase the pungency of the aromas on the nose and adds to the sophistication of the wine.
The 2017 Angullong Sangiovese has a delightfully spicy and Christmas cake nose with ripe savoury cherries and a raspberry herbaceousness through the middle. It’s only a medium bodied wine but dignified, elegant and well balanced. I really like the way that some firm tannins appear at the back of the palate to guide the fruit through a lingering leaf lined conclusion.
The Italian staple may not yet be a threat to Cabernet and Shiraz in Australia, but the star of Sangiovese is on the rise, and probably for very good reason!