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Noble Grape Challenge, Wine

Halfway Through the Noble Grape Challenge

With my post about Malbec a couple of weeks ago I’m now halfway through Wine Folly’s Noble Grape Challenge. Created as a challenge to learn about the range of wine, the Noble Grape Challenge lists nine red and nine white ‘noble’ varieties – generally speaking, the most widely planted varieties throughout the world – and challenges the reader to taste through them all as a way of getting to know the breadth and depth of wine created throughout the world.

At this point it feels like a good time to take a look back on how things went and a look ahead at what awaits.

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Noble Grape Challenge, Red Wine

A Noble Trip to Italy

It’s time for another installment of the Noble Grape Challenge. Last episode we got to know Merlot, and today we’ll get acquainted with that old Italian grape, Sangiovese.


About the Noble Grape Challenge

Wine Folly created the Noble Grape Challenge as a way to learn the spectrum of wine flavours found in red and white wines. Taking nine reds and nine whites, we’ll go through them from lightest to darkest, learning about the key characteristics and flavours of each.



Before we talk about the wine, let’s talk about the word – Sangiovese. It doesn’t look English, does it? In fact, you might think it looks straight-up Italian – and you would be right. This is your first clue that Sangiovese is a special varietal.

Sangiovese is really only grown in Italy. It’s one of the few varietals that is so scarce beyond its ‘home’ location. But! Before you go feeling all sorry for the little Sangiovese grape, let me tell you that there’s actually a big variety of it within Italy, which means its bouquet and flavour can vary quite a bit depending where in Italy it’s found. That’s the second clue that the Sangiovese varietal is a special one.


To try out Sangiovese I tasted Farnese Fantini Sangiovese IGT.

Very New World style label - I like!

Very New World style label – I like!


Tasting notes

As you can see, it colour is pretty gentle. It’s not super clear like a Pinot, nor is it completely opaque like a Malbec. It’s got a nice red colour and is a little orange-y along the edge, which I’ve read is a typical marker of a Sangiovese.

I found it difficult to get much off the nose of this wine, which I always find disappointing. After I left it in my glass for a while (almost an hour!) I started to smell some candied fruit, and a bit of cookie, actually. You know the classic vanilla Girl Guide cookies? I smelled those. Weird, I know.

The flavour was quite full. I got a fair amount of fruit (cherry, I think) off the top and a bunch of oak on the finish. In fact, the aftertaste was a bit like lickin a tree. Jury’s still out on that sensation.


Bottom Line

Despite being disappointed by the nose I quite like this wine. It goes down easy, and might just be my next go-to pick for a party or dinner with a friend. And, the best part, it was under $8! I was wary of the price and but decided to take a chance, and I’m glad it paid off.


Have you tried Sangiovese lately? What did you think?


Next up in the NGC: Nebbiolo – if I can find it!