It's no secret Italian immigrants were pivotal in transforming California into a thriving wine region. Ironically, California vintners focused on French grape varietals for decades but a new wave of Italian grapes is cropping up across the state, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Sangiovese, the famed Tuscan red grape behind Chianti, is among the Italian grapes that are increasing in popularity. That's because the climates in Tuscany and California are nearly identical, according to Bill Sanger, an Italian-American grape and olive grower.
A few years ago, Sanger planted a large lot of Sangiovese at his vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley. He's now selling the wine under a new label called Marianello - the name being a homage to his grandparents Maria and Nello.
Sanger's Marianello Cielo Rubio is a 2011 blend of 75% Sangiovese with 10 % Petite Syrah and 10 % Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was ''inspired by Italy’s Super Tuscans such as Solaia, Tignanello, and Sassacaia'' and is aged for 11 months in neutral French and neutral American oak barrels.
''The first sensations are of strawberries and rhubarb, with herbal notes making themselves known. This wine’s tannins are integrated with the fruit, showing that they can more than hold their own alongside the racy acidity that Sangiovese is known for,'' according to the company website.