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Chianti Classico: Black Rooster still going strong after 300 Years

Posted: Saturday, 30 January 2016 11:32


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Chianti Classico: Black Rooster still going strong after 300 Years

Jan 30: It isn’t unusual to hear about Italy producing wines for hundreds of years but if there is one wine that has defined the territory in Tuscany consistently for a long time, it is Chianti Classico which has its roots going back to exactly 300 years ago, to 1716 and the dynamic zone is still evolving and growing with energy and enthusiasm and better quality with the introduction of ‘Gran Selezione’ in 2014, higher up in the quality pyramid, writes Subhash Arora who has been visiting this area for almost a decade and finds many high quality wines that are good value-for money

Pics by :: Subhash Arora

Click For Large ViewThe roots of Chianti Classico go back to 1716 when the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo III established the boundaries of the Chianti wine production zone- between the cities of Florence and Siena. In the early 20th century, when Chianti was becoming ever more famous, the production area could no longer meet the growing domestic and international demand and the wine began to be produced outside the original Chianti zone but still under the name of Chianti or wine made for use in Chianti

‘Consortium for the Protection of Chianti wine and its trademark of Origin’ was established in 1924 to safeguard the quality and interest of this zone. The Consortium chose Gallo Nero (Black Rooster) as its symbol, the historic emblem of the ancient Lega Militare del Chianti, reproduced by painter Giorgio Vasari in his Allegoria del Chianti on the ceiling of the Salone dei Cinquecento in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. In 1932 the suffix ‘Classico’ was added to distinguish the original Chianti from that produced outside the defined production zone.

In 1984, Chianti Classico obtained DOCG (Denominazione d’Origine Controllata e Garantita), the highest appellation for Italian wines. In 1996, it became an independent DOCG. In 2010 the two appellations, ‘Chianti’ and ‘Chianti Classico’, were classified separately. Today ‘Chianti’ wines can no longer be produced in the Chianti Classico production zone. In 2013, the Consortium approved a series of modifications to the production specifications which started a real re-organisation of the whole zone.

Chianti Classico production zone spreads from the South of Florence to Siena, encompassing 9 sub-zones within the provinces of Florence (FL) and Siena (SI). Going from North to South these sub-zones are:

  1. San Casciano Val di Pesa (FL)
  2. Greve in Chianti (FL)
  3. Tavarnelle Val di Pesa (FL) (different than Tavernelle in south Montalcino)
  4. Barberino Val d’Elsa (FL)
  5. Poggiobonsi (SI)
  6. Castellina in Chianti (SI)
  7. Radda in Chianti (SI)
  8. Gaiole in Chianti (SI)
  9. Castelnuovo Berardenga (SI) (only a part)

Click For Large ViewThe dynamism of the organisation was shown with the members approving and getting an official decree from the government to create a new category of even higher quality. The government wine law was passed on 29th January, 2014, creating a new category called Chianti Classico Gran Selezione wines. During the short time of 3 weeks, 47 samples were submitted out of which 39 were approved. Due to the logistical issues, only 35 labels from 33 wineries could be ready for presentation at the formal Launch on February 17 in the Salone dei Cinquecento at the Palazzo Vecchio. This was reported in delWine. For a full Report, visit Tuscany Taste 2014: Chianti Classico Gran Selezione launched in Grand Style

300 years and not a single white feather

Click For Large View‘300 years and not a single white feather’ is the slogan chosen by the Consortium to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Chianti Classico. Chianti Classico is more than just a wine or just a Consortium to protect and promote. It is a true socio-economic area which includes different productive activities in the agricultural sector and a very high standard of tourism and reception facilities in an area which employs several thousand trained workers and experts. They have helped give the countryside a new lease of life, turning it into a destination for elite and cosmopolitan tourism, says Sergio Zingarelli, Chairman of the Consortium. He further adds, ‘quality of the landscape is an added value for Chianti winegrowing and the estates themselves are the natural custodians, maintaining, valuing and promoting it through their daily work.’

Click For Large ViewAfter stagnating sales for a few years due to the global meltdown, the various steps taken by the Consorzio and the producer members resulting in new sales in over 70 countries on all continents, although still focusing on the classic markets- especially the US, Europe and a few Asian markets. In 2015 the overall sales of the Chianti Classico producers showed an increase of 8% over the previous year, ostensibly due to stronger exports and recovery of the domestic market. “We are very satisfied with the market trend for Chianti Classico,” says Zingarelli.

He gives credit in part, to the driving force of Gran Selezione. He believes that it has re-defined and re-launched Chianti Classico on the international critical forum, placing it among the top wines worldwide. ‘This result is the well-deserved reward for the efforts and hard work of all the producers and the social unity and courageous, intelligent choices made together in recent years.’ 

Harvest Report 2015

The latest vintage of Chianti Classico is turning out excellent, thanks to the normal weather conditions and the healthy grapes. The winter was temperate with alternating cold days and sub-zero temperatures on certain days. The spring was mild with medium-high temperatures favouring regular budding of the foliage. Overall, the summer was excellent, with little rain and high temperatures in the months of July and August, compensated by a good day-night temperature difference.

All the phenological phases (budding, flowering, fruit-set and véraison) were perfect. This vintage enhanced the features of Sangiovese more than other years with unique and concentrated extract, anthocyanins, polyphenols and varietal aromas, according to a report by the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico.

In terms of production, the quantity was much the same as the previous year, around 290,000 hL. It would be interesting to taste some barrels samples- and of course the 2014 vintage to be released during the Ante-prima held every year in Florence every February.

Incidentally, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Il Grigio 2011 produced by San Felice Estate  has been awarded first place in the ‘The Enthusiast 100’ for 2015, the annual list of the best-of-the-best wines declared every year by the popular American magazine Wine Enthusiast, making it the first time for an Italian wine to reach the top position. For details, visit Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Top Wine of Enthusiast 2015

For another related Article, visit Tuscany Taste 2015: Collection of Chianti Classico Gems

Subhash Arora

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Tags : Italy, Tuscany, Chianti Classico, Gran Selezione, Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo III, Chianti, Gallo Nero, Black Rooster, Giorgio Vasari, Allegoria del Chianti, Palazzo Vecchio, Classico, DOCG, Florence, Siena, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, Salone dei Cinquecento, Sergio Zingarelli, Gran Selezione, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Il Grigio 2011, San Felice Estate


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