Over the weekend I attended an informal tasting of Tuscan wines at Prime Wines (also mistakenly known as Premier Wines) in Kenmore. All of the wines were made primarily from the Brunello grape, which is a clone of Sangiovese. The name 'Sangiovese' derives from sanguis Jovisi, which means "blood of Jove."
The term 'clone' does not have the same meaning here that it does in the biotechnology sphere. Rather, just as different varietals of a single species have distinctive characteristics but are not sufficiently different to be considered separate species, different "clones" (in the enological sense) are distinctively different types of grapes within a single varietal category but are not so different that they are considered different varietals.
According to philosopher of science and wine connoisseur Peter Machamer, the Italians have a saying about wine: "There is vino bianco, and then there is vino vero." (Translation: There is white wine, and then there is true wine.) I don't know whether any Italians have ever actually said this, but I certainly agree with its expressed preference for reds over whites.
Brunello-based wines reign supreme in Tuscany. There is much more to the wine of Tuscany wine than low-end bottles of Chianti covered in straw baskets. (See my previous post on Brunello di Montalcino.)
I purchased a bottle of Le Volte at the Tuscan wine tasting on Saturday (on sale for $17.99). It is made from 50% Brunello, 30% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. The laws governing wines in Italy have changed in recent years to allow winemakers to use non-native grapes like Merlot and Cabernet in some of their wines. Le Volte has soft, pleasant aromas of cherries and plums. One of the managers at Prime Wines thought she could detect sweet shiitake mushrooms in the nose. It paired very well with the Asiago cheese and beef tenderloin hors d'oeuvres served at Prime Wines. It is a very nice wine.