The Sangiovese grape, arguably the most important red variety in Italy, is in its element in Tuscany, where it is the star of such storied denominations as Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino.
But Sangiovese is also grown elsewhere in central Italy, including Emilia-Romagna to the north and west of Tuscany, where Chiara Condello produces a deep, robust wine that offers a stark and intriguing contrast to the Tuscan Sangioveses — especially the bright red fruit notes of Chiantis.
In fact, you might not even recognize the variety in Condello’s 2019 Romagna Sangiovese Predappio with its tastes of dark fruit, herbs, hints of red and black licorice, and baking spices. There’s also a mineral note and a firm tannic grip. The oak influence is restrained — the wine was aged for one year in neutral oak, in 3,500-liter Slovenian barrels known as botti.
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It’s made for hearty Italian-inspired dishes, including sausage ragu and grilled beef, lamb, and pork.
Chiara Condello is a young winemaker who farms about a dozen acres of vineyards in the village of Predappio, a Romagna subzone. She produced her first vintage in 2015 and has farmed organically since the beginning — a small producer who stands out in a region famed for its food, but less so for its wines.
At about $20, this is also a great value bottle, providing a window into a lesser-known wine region and how it can produce stellar variations from Italy’s most important grape.