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Chianti Classico

Area

The production area of Chianti Classico extends in Tuscany, traversing the heart of the region and including parts of the provinces of Florence and Siena.

History

In 1716, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo III de' Medici, established the boundaries of the Chianti production area with an edict, marking the first controlled designation of origin in wine history. This legislative act not only recognized the importance and quality of Chianti but also set strict rules for its production, laying the groundwork for the future development of the Chianti Classico denomination.

During the 19th century, Baron Ricasoli formulated the famous "recipe" for Chianti, establishing that the wine should be made primarily from Sangiovese grapes, with small amounts of Canaiolo and other local varieties added.

Regulations

Foundation: The Chianti Classico DOCG was officially recognized in 1996, marking an important chapter in its centuries-old history. 

First Approval as DOC: The first approval of Chianti Classico as a controlled designation of origin (DOC) dates back to the decree of the President of the Republic (D.P.R.) of August 9, 1967, published in the Official Gazette number 217 on August 30, 1967. This represented the first official step towards the protection and regulation of the quality of Chianti Classico.

Elevation to DOCG: Chianti Classico was elevated to the status of a controlled and guaranteed designation of origin (DOCG) with the D.P.R. of July 2, 1984, published in the Official Gazette number 290 on October 20, 1984. This recognition further raised the quality standard of Chianti Classico, introducing more stringent rules for its production and certification.

Latest Updates: The regulations governing the production of Chianti Classico DOCG have been further updated with the latest ministerial decree number 13A08325, published in the Official Gazette General Series number 244 on October 17, 2013. These updates reflect the ongoing commitment to excellence, innovation, and the protection of the authenticity of Chianti Classico


The regulations mandate that Chianti Classico must be composed of a minimum of 80% Sangiovese grapes, the symbolic variety of Tuscany. The remaining percentage can be made up of approved native or international red grape varieties, such as Canaiolo, Colorino, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, enhancing the wine's complexity while preserving its identity.

Chianti Classico

Corresponding to the historical Chianti production area, spanning eight townships in the province of Florence and Siena, Chianti Classico is one of the most famous wine-growing areas in Tuscany. 

With a picture-perfect landscape dominated by verdant oaks, Chianti Classico offers distinctive, cool-climate expression of Sangiovese focusing on crisp acidity and juicy tannins, making for irresistibly easy-drinking wines that also display good to excellent aromatic complexity.
 
Benefiting from a mix of maritime and Apennine influences, Chianti Classico is characterized by a mild and balanced climate that makes it easier to farm vineyards sustainably. Although wine is the area’s most famous product, most farms also house olive groves and other crops, promoting the preservation of the area’s rich biodiversity.
 
As of 2023, Roughly 53% of wineries in Chianti Classico an hold organic certification.
 
Chianti Classico in a Nutshell
  • Hectares under vine: approximately 7,200 
  • Total surface: 718 km2 
  • Vineyard altitude: 200 to 750 meters above sea level
  • Annual rainfall: 700-800 mm
  • Soil types: galestro (clay schists), alberese ( limestone), macigno (sandstone and clay).
  • Percentage of organically farmed vineyards: approximately 53%

The production area: 

The Chianti Classico production area lies the heart of Tuscany and encompasses parts of the provinces of Florence and Siena.
 
The municipalities included in the Chianti Classico production area are:
 
  • The entire townships of Greve in Chianti, Panzano in Chianti, and Radda in Chianti, Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti and Castelnuovo Berardenga.
  • Parts of the townships of Barberino Tavarnelle, San Casciano in Val di Pesa and Castelnuovo Berardenga.
 
These territories are delimited by specific regulations that ensure the quality and authenticity of Chianti Classico, guaranteeing that only wines produced within these boundaries can bear the designation “Chianti Classico,” accompanied by the Black Rooster symbol. This designation not only attests to the geographical area of production but also its compliance with strict standards of viticulture and winemaking.
 
 

Grapes: 

 
Chianti Classico must contain at least 80% Sangiovese, and a large number of the wines currently on the market are single-varietal expressions of this grape. Dollops of other varieties like Canaiolo and Colorino and international ones like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot may complete the blend. 
 
In the past, however, Chianti Classico used to include different grapes – until 1996 producers were forced to stick to the “ Ricasoli rule”, which included up to 20% white grapes like Malvasia del Chianti and Trebbiano Toscano. Presumably deriving from the necessity to tame aggressive tannins in times when reaching full maturity was more challenging and growers lacked proper winemaking expertise, this rule was deemed counterproductive by the pioneers of quality Tuscan wine, who decided to exit the denomination and classify their top wines from Chianti Classico as “vino da tavola”.
 
It took these producers almost twenty years of lobbying to obtain a revision of the regulation, allowing them to replace white grapes with the above-mentioned varieties or produce single-varietal wines. White grapes were finally banned from use in 2005.
 

Aging requirements:

 
Chianti Classico: usually referred to as “Chianti Classico annata”, the entry-level category of Chianti Classico accounts for the largest proportion of the output of the denomination. The wines must be released no earlier than October 1st following the harvest. Oak aging is common but not compulsory.
 
Chianti Classico Riserva: the mid-range category, Riserva is usually a selection from superior vineyards or superior grapes. The wine must be aged for at least 24 months, including 3 months in bottle.Oak aging is common but not compulsory.
 
Chianti Classico Gran Selezione: first introduced in 2014, Gran Selezione is the top-shelf category for Chianti Classico. The grapes for this wine must be sourced from the producers’ own vineyards, and it must be aged for at least 30 months before release, including three months in bottle. International grapes were banned from use in 2023. Oak aging is common but not compulsory. 
 
Some of the best Gran Selezione wines originate from a single vineyard, and display the “Vigna” prefix before the name. Starting from 2023, the wines can also sport an Unità Geografica Aggiuntiva (Additional Geographic Unit) mention, referring to the subzone within the denomination they come from.

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