Sunday, September 22, 2013

All about Chianti including laws, sangiovese and territorities

Tuscany vineyards chianti classico region

Probably one of the most known wines in all of Italy is Chianti. If you have ever been to Tuscany you have experienced utter beauty with it's rolling hills, cypress trees, olives groves and never ending row of vines.   

Chianti, along with it's many different mutations, is definitely one of my favorites, along with the wines from Piedmont that I will cover another time. Chianti been around since B.C. and has changed so much over the years, especially in recent decades. Some of you may remember Chianti from the old straw bottles known as fiasco, but some say to stay clear from those as it demonstrates some of the older production of Chianti and it has come so far over the years that there are many better wines to explore.

Gaiole in Chianti, Tuscany
For those of you that don't know, Chianti is made up of the sangiovese grape, but there are many other mutations of sangiovese such as Brunello, known for making one of the highest quality wines in all of Italy, Brunello di Montalcino. Prugnolo Gentile is another, typically known for making Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, as well as some other mutations such as, Morellino and Sangioveto. The variety of these styles along with different soils and elevations throughout the region produce many different styles of Chianti.

There are a couple different designations like Chianti Classico DOCG, which are all the wines produced in the regions between Florence and Siena. The Chianti Classico area's main communes are Greve, Radda, Gaiole and Castellina. There is also Chianti DOCG, which are for all the other winemaking regions that come from 6 subzones. If it's outside those zones it will just say Chianti, otherwise you'll see these subzones listed on the label: Chianti Colli Pisane (Pisa area), Chianti Colli Fiorentini (Florence area), Chiantii Colli Senesi (Siena area), Chianti Colli Aretini (Arezzo area), Chianti Montalbano (NW area of Tuscany) and the most popular and known to be the best quality, Chianti Rufina.

Chianti can be made up of 100% sangiovese, but at least 75% must be sangiovese. The rest can be up to 15% red with canaiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and up to 6% white, usually malvasia and trebbiano. Chianti riserva have a requirement of aging at least 27 months and being 12.5% without any white grapes blended. Most Chiantis are medium bodied, with a lot of cherry notes and tartness. There is usually mid to high acidity along with some tannin. You may even get some tobacco notes.