Mosaico di Vita | Consorzio Vini di Romagna
July 2021 | Wine

All the shades of Romagna Sangiovese DOC

Can more than 7,000 hectares of Sangiovese vineyards be all the same? Well, of course not. Let's discover the 12 subzones of Romagna's most famous wine denomination

Although there was and still is a general idea that Romagna Sangiovese is very similar – if not identical – to those cultivated in other areas, such claims are obviously far from the truth. Territory is responsible for shaping a wine’s characteristics and this means that different territories yield different wines. The cliché surrounding Romagna Sangiovese DOC was definitively debunked in 2011: the new disciplinary finally (and officially) recognized the 12 subzones of Romagna Sangiovese Doc. This is the most important proof of the distinct pedoclimatic characteristics present within the vast territory included in the denomination. These differences existed well before the disciplinary put them on paper, and since, they have become legal specifications that can be indicated on the label.

Highlighting differences

Identifying the 12 different subzones is also an important result in terms of business. Communicating Sangiovese has changed: consumers now have a new sense of awareness and can freely choose to enhance the characteristics of each subzone, having a taste of the differences based on analytical factors. For the record, these subzones do not indicate a scale of value: they are a horizontal classification that represents objective characteristics that are present in each subzone. They don’t convey preferences but aim to help consumers understand the diverse and fascinating shades of Romagna’s most important denomination.

A commitment to quality

Producers are not forced to put specifications on the label. But once they choose to do so, the disciplinary provides for stricter regulations on cultivation and winemaking. Indicating the subzone requires a higher percentage of Sangiovese in the final wine, going from 85 to a total of 95% (5% can consist in blends of black grape varieties suitable for cultivation in Emilia-Romagna). Yields per hectare also decreased from 120 to 90 quintals, proving that the disciplinary prefers quality over quantity. Finally, vinification and bottling must be exclusively carried out in the grapes’ area of origin or in a neighboring one, tightly binding Romagna Sangiovese DOC to its vineyards and subzone of origin.

The subzones of Sangiovese

There are currently 12 subzones, and another 4– namely Imola, Coriano, Verucchio and San Clemente – are in the process of gaining recognition and final approval. A possible increase in the number of subzones will mean that the covered area would include the entire Romagna portion of the Via Emilia, a territory that stretches from Castelbolognese to Rimini, at the gates of the Adriatic Sea. These are all hilly areas that are historically suitable for wine production. The municipalities that are currently not part of any subzone can produce Romagna Sangiovese Doc without indicating any particular specification on the label.

Here are some of the interesting differences between the subzones. For a detailed analysis, please refer to the dedicated section on our website.

Starting from the west and moving eastward, we find Serra and Brisighella, characterized by a continental microclimate, altitudes that do not exceed 250 meters and clayey-calcareous soils that yield wines with floral hints and notes of fresh fruit, as well as outstanding structure.

Marzeno stretches along the valley created by the river of the same name. It is, together with Modigliana, a very harsh territory, presenting soils layered with Plio-Pleistocene blue clays, that reach up to 500 meters in altitude. From here come wines with remarkable power and structure.

The subzones of Oriolo and Castrocaro-Terra del Sole are characterized by yellow sands that often emerge from clayey or silty-clayey soils. Depending on the exposure and the prevalence of sand or clay, the wines produced can acquire great structure after undergoing a certain aging period, or be more fruity and floral, ready to drink and well-balanced.

Predappio and Cesena are two historical subzones that have produced Romagna Sangiovese DOC wines with a certain reputation, one that has been handed down for generations. The wines from Predappio have strong and austere tannins, while those from Cesena stand out for their structure and elegance. Between these two subzones is Bertinoro. Traditionally a territory of Albana, it has discovered a new vocation for Romagna Sangiovese DOC, yielding wines with an important structure and that require longer aging periods.

Finally, we have the subzones of Meldola, San Vicinio and Longiano, located in the easternmost part of the territory. Longiano is certainly one of the most suitable subzones and it is found along the valley of Rubicone. From here come Romagna Sangiovese DOC wines that reveal balance between alcohol content and acidity, as well as a rather sweet tone. Meldola yields dry wines suitable for aging, while in San Vicino, the widest yet less planted subzone of the denomination, the particular mix of sands, clays and gravel (as well as the proximity of the Apennines) produce wines with incisive tannins and remarkable acidity.