Wish upon a Tuscan star…

September 8, 2017

Having escaped Perth’s winter for the welcoming and temperate arms of the Italian summer, I thought I would throw open a window and send the warm fragrance of Italy your way. A little escapism is as refreshing as a holiday, so grab yourself a glass of Sangiovese and let’s wander the vineyards of Tuscany together.

Sangiovese is the most widely planted red grape variety of Tuscany and is an essential ingredient of some of my favourite wines, Chianti Classico and of course Brunello Di Montalcino.  If I could capture the rustic beauty of Tuscany in a bottle, it would be a bottle of Chianti Classico. I love that each grape contains the flavour and spirit of the land from where it came. Sharing wine with family and friends across the globe, we are tasting the offerings of the Earth and experiencing lands we may never visit. So, if you are still holding that glass, savour each sip… can you feel the summer breeze on your face, playing with your hair?

I was fortunate to be in Italy on the night of San Lorenzo. It is not so well known outside of Italy and I can’t imagine why, except that perhaps that the magical spirit of Italy must keep some secrets to herself, or perhaps it’s essence is too illusive to commercialise… But on the night of San Lorenzo, children play in fields until dark, lovers rest on picnic blankets behind hay sheds and friends gather on verandas, wine in hand, to watch the sky – longing for shooting stars to wish upon. The occasion commemorates the martyrdom of San Lorenzo, and the many shooting stars visible on this night are said to be sparks from the bonfire that killed him, but despite its gruesome origins, it has become a magical night for young and old.

There was a time, not so long ago, when a good bottle of Australian Sangiovese was only a dream; a mere wish in the hearts of Australian growers. Thanks to the pioneering efforts of vintners such as Mark and Paul Lloyd of Coriole in McLaren Vale, the Brown Brothers and Pizzini family of King Valley, Victoria, and the Crittenden family of Crittenden Estate on the Mornington Peninsula, this wish has been attained. Closer to home, in our own Margaret River, Francesca and Gianfranco of Carp Diem Vineyards have earnt notoriety for their distinctly European techniques and flavours, and high-quality Sangiovese wines – if you want to try a deliciously smooth, local red, you can’t go wrong with the Carp Diem Decantato, a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sangiovese varies in intensity and flavour from the well-known Chianti, to the Brunello di Montalcino. Brunello is richer and deeper in colour with noticeable tannin. Lighter than Brunello is Chianti Classico. The Chianti Classico has more structure than the Chianti with a definite spice and notes of mulberry and prune.

Feel free to stop by the store on your way home, and pick up a bottle of Tuscan summer or the rustic charm of Australia in the form of Sangiovese. There is always someone to help you navigate the wine maze and we would be happy to find the perfect Sangiovese for you. I have recently returned from Italy and would love to share a tale or two of my latest wine exploits. Until then, take your glass outside and light the fire pit, or sit by a window and gaze at the sky. If you see a shooting star, make a wish… when you wish upon a star while sipping Sangiovese, your dreams are bound to come true.

- Ann Marie,

La Vigna

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