When people are asked which is the best known Italian wine in the world, the answer will most likely be: Chianti!
We imagine this wine in its characteristic bottle, “the fiasco” which also gives us a romantic idea of this wine.
Chianti is worldwide distributed. In reality, this is not a new phenomenon but a centuries-old one, in fact Chianti has been talked about for many centuries, starting from Etruscan documents of the first millennium up to the present days.
The wine takes its name from the area where it was originally produced, Chianti, a hilly area between Florence and Siena. Probably the first Chianti was a white or rosé wine, at least until 1400, where we find it described as excellent red wine in some papal documents.
Since 1716, a decree by Grand Duke Cosimo III de ‘Medici establishes the boundaries of the production areas and even a sort of “vigilance” over the production of this wine. Thus the “Classic” area was born, the epicenter of quality production, with the Gallo Nero symbol.
How it is made
The Chianti making has change since its original making. Froma mix of original local grapes, including white ones today we have put in place a firma and qualified way of making this fantastic wine. At the beginning of the 19th century, at the hands of the politician (and winemaker) Bettino Ricasoli, we even have a “recipe” with which to produce this wine: Sangiovese grapes, with small percentages of Canaiolo and Malvasia … Bianca (white grape). The twentieth century instead saw the birth of a real Consortium and the determination of the D.O.C. in 1967, later became D.O.C.G. in 1984, which establishes rules and boundaries.
The DOCG recipe gives the producer some creative room. One can make it with 100% Sangiovese, some other can add to Sangivese (min of 85%) some other grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Sangiovese grape, is a very resistant and adaptable grape. It gives fresh and tannic wines (in the young version) or very elegant and soft wines. If combined with other grapes or in a Riserva version can always and definitely give wines with great aging potential.
This brings our conversation to the different types of Chianti and how to select a good Chianti from a shelf, but I will keep this for another story…