Chianti is one of the world’s most famous and oldest wine regions in central Tuscany.
The earliest documentation of a “Chianti wine” dates back to the thirteenth century when viticulture was known to flourish in the “Chianti Mountains” around Florence. In 1398, records note that the earliest incarnation of Chianti was as a white wine. In 1716 Cosimo III de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany issued an edict legislating the specific outlines of the Chianti zone. In 1932 the Chianti area was completely re-drawn and divided in seven sub-areas: Classico (the most famous), Colli Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Colline Pisane, Colli Senesi, Montalbano and Rùfina. Wines labelled “Chianti Classico” come from the biggest sub-area of Chianti that includes the original Chianti heartland; subsequent expansions in 1967 would eventually bring the Chianti zone to cover a very large area all over central Tuscany.
Baron Bettino Ricasoli (later Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy) created the original Chianti “recipe” of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 15% Malvasia Bianca grapes in the middle of the nineteenth century. During the 1970s producers started to reduce the quantity of white grapes in Chianti. In 1995 it became legal to produce Chianti with 100% Sangiovese. For a wine to retain the name of Chianti, it must be produced with at least 80% Sangiovese grapes. Aged Chianti (38 months instead of 4-7), may be labelled as Riserva.
Chianti is sometimes called the “Bordeaux of Italy” – the flexibility in the blending recipe for Chianti accounts for some of the variability in styles among Chiantis. Lighter bodied styles will generally have a higher proportion of white grape varieties blended in, while Chiantis that have only red grape varieties will be fuller and richer. While only 15% of Cabernet Sauvignon is permitted in the blend, the nature of the grape variety can have a dominant personality in the Chianti blend and be a strong influence in the wine.
Chianti Classico wines are characterized in their youth by their predominantly floral and cinnamon spicy bouquet. As the wine ages, aromas of tobacco and leather can emerge. Chiantis tend to have medium-high acidity and medium tannins. The acidity in the wines make them very flexible with food and wine pairings, particularly with Italian cuisines that feature red sauce, as well with as beef, lamb and game. Basic level Chianti is often characterized by its juicy fruit notes of cherry, plum and raspberry and can range from simple quaffing wines to those approaching the level of Chianti Classico. Well-made examples of Chianti Classico often have the potential to age and improve in the bottle for six to twenty years.
LINKS TO OUR CHIANTI PRODUCERS & PRODUCTS:FONTELLA: Chianti SAN FABIANO: Chianti Putto FATTORIA DEL CERRO: Chianti Colli Senesi LA LASTRA: Chianti Colli Senesi CASTELLO DI MONSANTO: Chianti Monrosso Chianti Classico Riserva VILLA CAFAGGIO: Chianti Classico Chianti Classico Riserva SANTA MARGHERITA: Chianti Classico Riserva