There’s a movement afoot in Italy’s Romagna to get Predappio Sangiovese—long the jewel in the crown of the region’s top reds, thanks to the diverse ochre and brown calcareous clay and yellow sand soils of its vineyards (thought to impart the wines with their distinct minerality—its own DOCG status. It’s a bit nascent for the time being, but some serious research has already gone into the movement, spearheaded by the family behind Drei Donnà.
Is Predappio Sangio really ready for prime time, with quality equal to its sister DOCG (and Italy’s first white wine DOCG), Albana?
To find out, I devoted a serious amount of time at the 2023 Romagna ‘Vini ad Arte’ Anteprima event earlier this year tasting through the preview of the 2020 vintage for Predappio Romagna Sangiovese Riserva DOC reds (I know, I know… tough job…).
Here’s what stood out to me, and my thoughts on the future of their DOCG hopes.
Earth, black cherry, dark spices, and a smooth entry… there’s a lot to like about this Sangiovese. Its lithe palate gives way to some BIG structure that rears up like an absolutely furious Godzilla out of the sea, headed for the Tokyo of your gums.
This is modernly styled, young, but already delicious. Red plums and cherries mingle with dried herbs, while the richness in the mouth comes with a heaping helping of spices and bright red berry fruit flavor.
This gifted winemaker has only gotten even better since my last visit to the region, and she sees 2020 as a “pollution-free” vintage (thanks to the Covid lock-down), capturing the energetic qualities of the “exceptional” photosynthesis that year. From an absolutely tiny vineyard comes a perfect example of what she was talking about. This clean, linear, elegant, mineral, energetic, chewy, long, and quite well-balanced red is stunning, replete with beguiling and lifted black cherry fruitiness.
Cola, licorice, and concentrated dark red fruit action are abundant in this silky but structured red. You can almost chew on the fresh fruit texture of this one.
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. Transparent, pure, and spicy, this red has a mouthfeel so pristine that it feels almost effortless until you hit the tannin backbone. This is probably the most mineral of the Riserva lineup that I tasted, and that is truly saying something.
Fresh” is the operative word on this savory, tangy red. It comes off as slightly reserved at this young stage, but never loses an ounce of its elegance or authenticity.
Dark, plummy, and minty AF, this Sangio is such a youngster that it’s hiding nearly everything at the moment. But… the spice, structure, and acidity all point to it developing into an awesome food wine. And it’s a steal for the current asking price.
So… how about that DOCG status?
On the downside, it’s tough to point to a definitive regional Predappio Sangiovese identity in the glass, apart from being superior examples of the things that mark the best Romagana Sangios: deep, dark red fruit, exceptional minerality, and ample structure.
On the plus side, the quality level is clearly already there. The producers know their sites, their clones (the region infamously has several), and can execute what they want to do with Sangiovese in the region at a world-class level. These reds are just as good as Tuscany’s Chianti Classico Riservas, but might not be quite as complex as the best DOCG examples from that region.
The bottom line is that these reds are easily as good as their top-level Albana white DOCG sister wines, and that alone might be enough to justify the DOCG nod sooner rather than later.