Sangiovese: general information

general information managed by Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Alimentari e Agro-ambientali (DiSAAA-a) - Università di Pisa
How to cite this source Scalabrelli G., D'Onofrio C., 2013. Sangiovese. In: Italian Vitis Database. ISSN 2282-006X
botanical information
type of origin
Vitis vinifera
variety group
not available
variety for
Registered in the National Catalogue
Official name
official synonyms (1)
synonyms reported in the National Catalogue
documented synonyms (12)
synonyms documented by the Istitution that appear with the eventual support of the literature
wrong denominations (2)
wrong denominations indicated by the Istitution that appear with the eventual support of the literature
released clones (90)
  • shoot
  • shootTipUs
  • shootTipLs
  • bud
  • leaf
  • leafUs
  • leafLs
  • petiol sinus
    petiol sinus
  • bunch
  • berry
  • seed
Historical references

The lack of historical evidence before the sixteenth century makes it very hard to trace the origins of this variety of grape. The importance of Sangiovese in Middle Italy viticulture and the leading role that this variety holds today in Italian oenology explains the great interest to study the origin of its name. The name may possibly derive from this grape’s place of origin over which ‘Toscana’ and ‘Emilia Romagna’ have been quarrelling for many years. Without precise references, they turned back to myth which recalled blood, one of the symbols associated with wine and sacrifices for the gods, that is the blood of Jove (sanguis Jovis). The name’s semantics refers to yoke, ‘giogo’ (jugum), supporting the hypothesis of ‘sangue-gio-vese’, that is blood of hill yokes, or of a wine ‘giovevole al sangue’ (good for blood) (Mainardi, 2001).
Other connections among the Etruscan language, the religious aspects and the meanings of the term sangiovese. were hypothesized. In a phrase not completely interpreted written in an Etruscan book, the Liber Linteus, a sort of liturgical calendar used to wrap an Egyptian mummy of the first century AC, the term s’antist’celi  that possibly suggest a kind of wine that has an excellent assonance to the words used to define Sangiovese, appear next to the word ‘vinum’. Furthermore there are other assonances related to the ritual sphere with Sangiovese such as ‘thana-chvil’ (votive offer), ‘tbcms-zusleva’ (offer of someone who does a rite), ‘thezin-eis’ (offer to the God) or ‘sani-sva’, very near to the romagnolo word ‘sanzve’ used for Sangiovese that has the meaning of father or ancestor standing for fathers’ wine or for an offer to the fathers (Mainardi, 2001).
Tracing back the origins of the Sangiovese grapevine to the Etruscan culture is very fascinating, but the latest findings about its potential origin, that is the straight relationship between Ciliegiolo and Calabrese di Montenuovo (Vouillamoz et al., 2007; Bergamini et al 2012), doubt these hypothesis, even if don’t dismiss them totally as shown from other researches (Di Vecchi et al., 2007).      
The first certificate of the existence of this grapevine in Tuscany was made by Soderini (1590) who named it ‘Sangiogheto’. At the end of the seventeenth century, this grapevine was depicted in the painting of Bartolomeo del Bimbo called ‘il Bimbi’ with the name of ‘Sangioeto’ (Basso, 1982), while Trinci (1726) described the ‘San Zoveto’ as ‘grapes of wonderful quality that are produced in huge quantities every year’. Also the georgofili academic Villifranchi in his Oenologia Toscana (1773), praised the feature of productive constancy of ‘San Gioveto’ describing it as ‘the star’ of the generous and exceptionally tasty Tuscan wines. Villifranchi (1773) talked also about strong ‘San Gioveto’ (synonymous of Inganna cane) and pointed out the ‘San Gioveto romano’ that was cultivated in the Marca and in particular in the Faentino region where using this grape only produced a very generous wine that ‘dimandasi pure San Gioveto’. In the same period, in Romagna the existence of Sangiovese wine and its qualities were found in convivial texts and in the dytirambus ‘Bacco in Romagna’ of the abbot Piolanti (Mainardi, 2001).
Gallesio (1839) consider the ‘Sangioveto’ a Tuscan variety but also report that it is indicated with different names. The ampelographic commission of Siena (1875-76) counted Sangioveto and Calabrese (ampelographically different) among the most widespread grapevines in the Chianti region, the ‘Prugnolo’ in Montepulciano and ‘Brunello’ in Montalcino. The same commission asked themselves if  ‘Sangioveto’, ‘Prugnolo’ and ‘Brunello’, with ‘Sangioveto piccolo’ have the same identity. Di Rovasenda (1877) in Tuscany always mentioned ‘Sangioveto’, whilst in Romagna he talked about ‘Sangiovese’.
The existence of different biotypes has been highlighted by many writers, Molon (1906) in particular said that two types of Sangiovese are the most cultivated, the ‘grosso’ (big) one or ‘Sangioveto dolce’ and the  ‘piccolo’ (little) one or ‘Sangioveto forte’. According to Breviglieri and Casini (1965) there were two types of this grapevine: the ‘Sangiovese grosso’, synonym with dolce (sweet) and gentile (kind), and the ‘piccolo’ one synonym with ‘forte’ (strong) and ‘montanino’. ‘Prugnolo gentile’ of Montepulciano and ‘Brunello di Montalcino’, synonyms widely and historically used in the two Sienese cities, should belong to the ‘grosso’ biotype.

distribution & variation


This grapevine shows high phenotypic intra-variety variability.
The identity of Sangiovese toscano with the romagnolo one and with Brunello, Prugnolo and Morellino was noted by many scientists and technicians at the end of the XVIII century, and especially by Villifranchi (1773) and Acerbi (1875), who were among the first to discover the variety identity between Sangiovese and Prugnolo. Also the ampelographic commission of Siena (1877-83) confirmed without that Sangiovese, Brunello and Prugnolo are the same grapevine and suggested naming it ‘Sangioveto’. Successively Marzotto (1925), Cosmo (1948), Breviglieri e Casini (1965) confirmed that the changeability of Sangiovese is due to the presence of sub-populations that can be found above all from the dimensions of the berries or the characteristics of the leaves. Campostrini et al. (1995), studying 14 varietal population, dislocated in the traditional Tuscan cultivation zones, found the existence of 5 ecotypes distinguished by the productive and qualitative characteristics of the must, recognizable by the weight of the berries. Ampelographic differences among six biotypes of Sangiovese of different geographical origin (three in Tuscany, one in Romagna, one in Marche and one in Corsica, named as Nielluccio) were also noticed in a study carried out by Calò et al., (1995). Intra-variety variability was usefully used in cloning selection programs, which today allow the certification of about 90 clones. The multivariate statistical analysis, carried out on the basis of the morphological characteristics of the leaves of 12 certified clones, allowed to distinguish 3-4 groups of clones very well differentiated from the others (Silvestroni e Intrieri, 1995) emphasizing the possibility that practically not all the clones are distinguishable on the basis of philometric characteristics.
In recent times it has been proved that using molecular microsatellite markers it’s not possible to distinguish the biotypes of ‘Sangiovese grosso’, ‘Sangiovese piccolo’, ‘Prugnolo gentile’, ‘Morellino’, ‘Nielluccio’ and ‘Uvetta’ from different areas (Calò et al., 2001), while more caution has to be observed in the use of the name ‘Morellino’ if it is followed by suffixes ‘Pizzuto’, ‘di Pitigliano’,, ‘del Valdarno’, ‘del Casentino’, (Scalabrelli and Grasselli, 1985; Calò et al., 2004; Calò and Costacurta 2006). 


From the election zones of cultivation, Tuscany and Romagna, Sangiovese progressively widens to others Italian regions such as Marche, Umbria, Abruzzo, Lazio, Puglia (Mainardi, 2001) and Corsica. The greatest part of this expansion happened between the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century together the post-phylloxera reconstruction. There was an extensive renewal of plantings in the 60’s-70’s, thanks to the incentives for the establishment of wide vineyards (Green plan). The production planning oriented towards quantity and not always a rational choice of the planting sites contributed to limit the achievement of this grapevine. The vineyards’ obsolescence needed their renewal which was made playing particular attention to the choice of soil, clonal material and planting system. The latter, in particular, was addressed to the increase of planting’s density and the rationalization of management techniques to achieve grapes of a quality suitable for the production of important red wines (Loreti and Scalabrelli, 2007).
Currently, Sangiovese is the most widespread grapevine in Italy, according to ISTAT in the year 2000 about 70000 hectares were cultivated taking up more than 10% of the whole vineyard’s area. The data of the Italian viticulture card index, besides being continuously in development, in 2004 assigned a surface of about 93000 hectares divided as follow: 


Area (ha)








Emilia Romagna




































 Agronomic characteristics

It bud burst is quite early, in the last ten days of March in Tuscany coastal zones, while it is one week later in the inner zones. It requires quite high warmth to ripen fully (Turri and Intrieri, 1988) that finishes by the last ten days in September in the coastal zones while in Tuscany’s internal areas and in the highest zones it goes on until the first ten or twenty days of October. The adaptation of this grapevine in the coolest areas is essentially due to the amount of rainfall in the month before the harvest.
The high fertility of basal buds justifies the adoption of spur-pruning that can leave very shorts ‘spurs’ in the hottest areas (Montalcino, Maremma). The vigour is medium-high with a moderate ability of suckers’ issue. It is able to adapt to various training systems such as short pruning (alberello, spur pruned cordon, GDC), mixed pruning (Guyot, capovolto) and long pruning (tendone, archetto) on the basis of the climatic condition and the soil fertility. The use of rootstocks in new vineyards has expanded compared to the past. Where there isn’t any risk of extended drought, less vigorous subjects (161/49, 101-14) are employed with a high density plantation. The 110R is used where there is the need of a higher tolerance to drought while in more difficult conditions the 1103 P rootstock is predominantly used.
The bunch is of middle size, pyramid-shaped and on average compact. In ideal growing conditions the sugar content is high, while anthocyanin content in berry skin is highly dependent by place of cultivation, cultivation management, and in particular by vigour and production load. Different clones offer a wide variety of choice as regards the morphology and the qualitative characteristics of the bunch (Moretti 2007, Tamai 2009), allowing the production of polyclonal vineyards.
The sensitivity to Plasmopara viticola is average and it's mainly more sensitive to Oidium and to rot; it is quite sensitive to mites and less towards moths and leafhoppers, besides it is very susceptible to esca disease.
It is very adaptable to different environments even if the coastal zones may be subject to damage by late coming frost. Grapes of high quality are obtained in soil that is not very fertile, well drained and in a dry climate, with moderate lack of water from véraison till ripening. For a better aromatic complexity it is important to have a good temperature range. The terroir effect is well highlighted by the distinctive characteristics of the vines obtained from these different zones.

technological use

Sangiovese is the main grapevine of Tuscan oenology, being the principal component of the six Tuscan DOCG, making up from a minimum of 50% up to a 100%: ‘Brunello di Montalcino’ (100% pure), ‘Carmignano’, ‘Chianti’, ‘Chianti Classico’, ‘Morellino di Scansano’, 'Montecuuco', ‘Nobile di Montepulciano’.
It shares, as principal grapevine, the production of almost all the main red wines DOC and IGT of Tuscany:
DOC: Barco Reale di Carmignano, Bolgheri rosso, Candia dei Colli Apuani, Capalbio, Colli dell'Etruria Centrale, Colli di Luni, Colline Lucchesi, Cortona, Elba, Montecarlo, Montecucco, Monteregio di Massa Marittima, Montescudaio, Orcia, Parrina, Pietraviva, Pomino, Rosso di Montalcino, Rosso di Montepulciano, San Gimignano rosso, Sant'Antimo, Sovana, Terratico di Bibbona, Val di Cornia, Valdichiana, Vin Santo Occhio di Pernice
IGT: Alta Valle del Greve, Colli della Toscana centrale, Maremma Toscana, Montecastelli, Toscana, Val di Magra.
It is also in many DOC and IGT wines from other regions, such as Bardolino, Garda orientale, Valdadige, Valpolicella, Sangiovese di Romagna, Montefalco, Rosso piceno, Rosso Conero, Velletri and Gioia del Colle.
On the basis of the cultivation zone, the characteristics of grapes and the level of phenolic maturity it can give rose wines, young red wines (also new wines) and wine suitable for short, average or long aging. A problem of Sangiovese is that grapes' quality strongly depends on the weather trend of the year.
Grapes can be vinified alone or in blends with other grapevines. It requires a vinification technique suitable for the grapes' characteristics and the kind of wine we want to obtain.
Healthy grapes develop a tannic wine that needs to be opportunely aged before use. Some black marks could arise about the colour which would tend towards turning to orange with a long ageing. The colour's stability mainly depends on the anthocyanic composition that in Sangiovese is not the best because of the lack of malvidin. Nevertheless, this problem has diminished a lot thanks to the improving of the production techniques (less yield from one plant) and the use of qualitative clones.
Sangiovese is also a grapevine for blended wine, as shown by Bettino Ricasoli's Chianti's recipe (7 shares of Sangiovese, 2 of Canaiolo nero and 1 of Malvasia Bianca), that has evolved from vintage wine into aged wine with the gradual reduction of white grapes.

bibliographies (26)
authors year title journal citation
Acerbi G. 1825 Delle viti italiane, ossia materiali per servire alla classificazione, monografica e sinonimia, preceduti dal tentativo di una classificazione delle viti. Vol. I -Ed. G. Silvestri - Milano
Basso M. 1982 Uve In CNR “Agrumi, frutta e uve nella Firenze di Bartolomeo Bimbi pittore mediceo”. F.&F. Parretti Grafiche, Firenze: 137-157.
Bergamini C., Caputo A.R., Gasparro M., Perniola R., Cardone M.F., Antonacci D. 2012 Evidences for an Alternative Genealogy of ‘Sangiovese’ Molecular Biotechnology DOI 10.1007/s12033-012-9524-9
Borsa D., Di Stefano R. 1995 Characterization of biotypes of Sangiovese as basis for clonal Selection Int. Symp. on clonal selection. ASEV: 99-104
Breviglieri N., Casini E. 1965 II Sangiovese Ministero dell'Agricoltura e delle Foreste - Principali vitigni da vino coltivati in Italia - Volume IV
Calò A., Costacurta A. 2007 Dei Vitigni Italici. Ovvero delle loro storie, caratteri e valorizzazione Matteo editore.
Calò A., Costacurta A., Paludetti G., Crespan M., Giusti M., Egger E., Grasselli A., Storchi P., Borsa D., Di Stefano R. 1995 Characterization of biotypes of Sangiovese as basis for clonal selection Selection. Int. Symp. on clonal selection. ASEV: 99-104.
Calò A., Costacurta A., Storchi P., Giannetto S., Chies R., Crespan M., Ostan M. 2006 I sinonimi del Sangiovese in Italia Atti Simp. Internazionale sul Sangiovese. ARSIA, Firenze: 125-130.
Calò A., Scienza A. Costacurta A. 2001 Vitigni D’Italia Edagricole
Campostrini E., De Micheli L., Bogoni, Scienza A. 1995 Study of genetic variability of Sangiovese ecotypes as a tool for new strategies Int. Symp. on clonal selection, ASEV: 105-110.
Cosmo I. 1948 Montepulciano - Canaiolo - Sangiovese - Ciliegiuolo - Indagine ampelografico-comparativa Rivista di Viticoltura e di Enologia n. 4, Aprile - Conegliano
Di Rovasenda G. 1877 Saggio di una ampelografia universale. Loescher, Torino.
Di Vecchi-Staraz M., Bandinelli R., Boselli M., Patrice T., Boursiquot J.M., Laucou V., Lacombe T. 2007 Genetic Structuring and Parentage Analysis for Evolutionary Studies in Grapevine: Kin Group and Origin of the Cultivar Sangiovese Revealed Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science 132(4): 514–524
D’Onofrio C., De Lorenzis G., Giordani T., Natali L., Cavallini A., Scalabrelli G., 2010 Retrotransposon-based molecular markers for grapevine species and cultivars identification. Tree Genetics & Genomics 6:451-466
Gallesio G. 1839 Pomona italiana, ossia trattato degli alberi fruttiferi. Capurro N., Pisa, 1817-1839
Loreti F., Scalabrelli G. 2007 Sistemi di impianto, forme di allevamento, tecniche di potatura. In “Storia Regionale della Vite e del Vino in Italia. Toscana”. Firenze: 393-444
Mainardi G. 2001 Storia di un grande protagonista dell’enologia italiana: Il “Sangiovese”. Atti del Simposio internazionale Il “Sangiovese” Firenze, 15-17 Febbraio 2000, ARSIA: :17-23.
Marzotto N. 1925 Uve da vino voll. I-II, Tipografia Commerciale, Vicenza.
Molon G. 1906 Ampelografia. vol. II - Hoepli, Milano.
Moretti G., Scalabrelli G., A.A.V.V. 2007 Catalogo dei Cloni di vite Omologati dei vitigni ad uva da vino in Italia. Unione Italiana Vini – Enovitis:1-207.
Scalabrelli G., Grasselli A. 1985 Recupero dei vitigni coltivati nella zona del "Bianco di Pitigliano". L’Inf. Agr. 5,: 59-66.
Silvestroni O., Intrieri C. 1995 Ampelometric assessment of clonal variability in the Sangiovese wine grape cultivar Int. Symp. in clonal selection, ASEV: 137-142.
Tamai G. 2009 Catalogo dei cloni – varietà di uva da vino Ed agricole, Bologna
Trinci C., 1738 L'agricoltore sperimentato. Lucca
Turri S., Intrieri C. 1988 Fenologia e climatologia applicata alla Vitis vinifera: appunti metodologici. ATTI, Accademia Italiana della Vite e del Vino, Siena, 40: 191-206.
Vouillamoz F., Imazio S., Stefanini M., Scienza A., Grando M.S. 2004 Relazioni genetiche del Sangiovese Atti II° Simp. Int. “Il Sangiovese identità e peculiarità di un vitigno internazionale” (Abstract 22), Firenze 17-19 novembre 2004.
updated at 2017-04-21 18:44:20 (2 years ago)