Is Sangiovese Grosso really “grosso”?
A lot of people have the misconception that the clones of Sangiovese used in Montalcino and Sant'Angelo in Colle to make Brunello are "grosso", in other words, that their "acini" (in Italian) or "berries" (in English) are "large" ("grosso" means "big" or "large" in Italian). In fact, the two clones used predominantly in our land of production are VCR 5 and VCR 6 (VCR stands for the clonal selection company that developed them, Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo) and are medium to small in size.
The following description is the one given by Calò, Scienza, and Costacurta in their almanac of Italian grape varietals, "Vitigni d'Italia".
"VCR 5: Brunello Type. Almost plumeless bud. Medium-small bunch and berry. Blue, thick skin. Good resistance to Botrytis".
"VCR 6: Brunello Type. Medium-small bunch and berry. Consistent skin. Good-excellent resistance to botrytis".
In fact, one of the most common Sangiovese clones used in Toscana is the Rauscedo 10 also sometimes called the "Grosso Lamole": "Lamole Type. Medium-large bunch, pyramid trunk, semi-compact. Large berry. Vigorous, very productive. It is the typical Sangiovese grosso toscano".
Depending on the source
, there are probably about 80 clones of Sangiovese homologated in Italy and about 20 of those are cultivated in Toscana.
In fact, in Montalcino and Sant'Angelo in Colle we have historically used smaller berries Sangiovese clones in order to give our wines more color and more structure and more longevity. The smaller is the berry, the more surface area of skin in ratio with the pulp and liquid of the berry. The skin contains the tannin that gives Brunello di Montalcino its structure and its nobility.
The Sangiovese grosso cultivated in our land of production is not "grosso" at all.