India's First Wine, Food and Hospitality Website, INDIAN WINE ACADEMY, Specialists in Food & Wine Programmes. Food Importers in Ten Cities Across India. Publishers of delWine, India’s First Wine.
Skip Navigation Links
About Us
Indian Market
Wine & Health
Wine Events
Retail News
Contact Us
Skip Navigation Links
Wine Tourism
Book Review
Photo Gallery
Readers' Comments
Video Wall
Media Partners
Ask Wineguyindia
Wine & Food
Wine Guru
Gerry Dawes
Harvest Reports
Mumbai Reports
Advertise With Us
US Report on Indian Market Released
Top Ten Importers List 2015-16
On Facebook
On Twitter
Delhi Wine Club
Chianti Classico Collection ’13: Wake Up Call from the Black Rooster

Posted: Monday, 25 February 2013 16:08

Chianti Classico Collection ’13: Wake Up Call from the Black Rooster

Feb 25: After years of stunted growth due to the declining Italian market and the price hit from the export markets, the Consorzio of Chianti Classico has decided to catch the bull by the horn and announced measures to improve the image and establish its superiority over the cheaper cousin Chianti docg and improve market share, writes Subhash Arora who has been a regular visitor at the annual ‘I Maestri Toscani’-an annual Tasting that includes fine wines of Montepulciano and Montalcino.

The Anteprima event was started 20 years ago in 1993 with a couple of dozen journalists tasting the newest release of Chianti Classico wines and was earlier known as The Anti Prima del Chianti Classico. It has been given a modern, international tag of Chianti Classico Collection (CCC). The venue remains the same as in recent years; Stazione Leopolda - an old defunct train station which has been deftly converted into a cozy conference venue. The participating producers remain about 150 with 300+ wines to taste.

The format has been changed slightly this year with buyers invited a day earlier-on 18 February and the producers having an opportunity to interact with around 200 journalists from 29 countries including Italy, on 19 February. The vintage of course changes every year, this year being devoted primarily to the new vintage of Chianti Classico 2011 some of which was still in the barrels and Riserva 2010.

The organisers are the same - Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico which has come up with a few revolutionary ideas that were in the pipeline and announced by the new President of the Consorzio, Sergio Zingarelli (President of a Consorzio is an elected wine producer member; Sergio owns Rocca delle Macìe in Castellina in Chianti). 

The first change is the re-inventing of the existing Black Rooster adorning the centre of the red seal, representative of Chianti Classico for several decades. The historical logo has been made more vibrant, beautiful and full of energy, according to Zingarelli.

Chianti Classico docg vs. Chianti docg

A vast majority of wine connoisseurs outside Tuscany would agree that Chianti Classico wines produced in a much smaller specified area between Florence and Siena, are generally of better quality than the much wider surrounding area around it designated for producing Chianti. The better terroir (and the resultant higher land prices) and stricter production laws make Chianti Classico a wine of generally better quality that justifies the higher prices. 

Chianti Classico must use at least 80% of the local Sangiovese grape as compared to 75% in Chianti. More importantly, one cannot use white grapes since 2006 whereas Chianti appellation still allows 10% of Trebbiano and Malvasia Bianca, primarily because these crops existed and were used in red wine when the laws were framed. Permitted minimum alcohol levels of Chianti Classico is 12% compared to 10.5% in Chianti. Chianti Classico needs more maturing time and may be released on the first day of October following the harvest compared to Chianti which allows the release much earlier, on March 1.

Writers Folly

Unfortunately, consumers, sommeliers and wine writers feel that the difference between the two may be so thin that even they make the mistake of omitting ‘Classico’ in writing sometimes. The consumer is by far not aware about the two different appellations and this problem is magnified by the carelessness or lack of knowledge by the wine writers. Sergio Zingarelli points out about a national newspaper reporting  an important news about Chianti Classico published not long ago when it described Chianti (Classico) binging out some special steps, omitting ‘Classico’ in the report.

The Consorzio has taken a note of this deficiency in communications and this year has requested the writers in every which way not to modify or shorten the name ‘Chianti Classico’ while writing for magazines or newspapers. Perhaps, with the strengthening of the Black Rooster in the logo, it is also getting more importance and the journalists are advised to use’ Black Rooster’ in lieu of Chianti Classico if they so like.

In fact, explains Giuseppe Liberatore, Direttore Generale (Managing Director) of the Consorzio, ‘we are attempting to make the producers use the Black Rooster logo not in the band but a more prominent place on the bottle.’ Conceding that the modernisation of the Black Rooster may not be enough by itself, he says, ‘we hope that our members many of whom display their labels very prominently as they are distinctly popular brands, will also display the new Black Rooster logo with pride.'

Gran Selezione

As already informed by delWine last July when Zingarelli took over as the President, the current quality level system of only Chianti Classico and Chianti Classico Riserva is being expanded to include the third wine at the top level of the echelon –perhaps like the top Grands Crus Burgundy wines. ‘Gran Selezione’ category has been added and reserved for the wine estates that will bottle the wine made from their own grapes, with a minimum aging requirement of 30 months as compared with 24 months for the current Riserva wine which is an important part of the Chianti Classico appellation as it brings in 40% of the revenue in value. It would perhaps form around 5-7% of the total sales but will highlight the quality and the aging potential of wine from the district, stresses Zingarelli.

Moreover, the winery would have to declare from today their intention to declare the wine as Riserva or Gran Selezione so that the approval may be given. At the other end, even the bulk wines are being put under more strict control in that they must be approved and certified by the Consorzio before they can be sold so the buyers can be sure of an acceptable quality.

Up, Up and Up with the Sales

To a rank outsider, the steps may appear uncalled for. After a disastrous year 2009 when the recession hit Chianti Classico like most of the fine wine world globally, sales plummeted to 192,000 hLs (19.2 million) from a high of 288,000 hLs barely a couple of years earlier. This was even lower than the previous high of 224,000 hLs achieved in 2004 from where it had a steady increase till 2007. The sales have been increasing steadily from 2009 to 259,000 hLs in 2012 with the focused efforts of the Consorzio and the steady turn-around of the market.

It is commendable to have achieved these results, especially as the sales in the domestic market have been steadily going down. With the Italians consuming lower wine than ever before, bringing the per capita consumption to less than the psychological level of 40 liters, the share of Italian market for Chianti Classico has come down from 27% in 2005 to merely 20% in 2012. Offsetting the drop in the local market, there has been growth in the US (going up from 25%-28% in the same period and taking over as more than even the domestic consumption and as the biggest single market for Chianti Classico). The German (steady increase from 11% to 12%), and Canadian market which has almost doubled from 5% in 2005 to 2009 have become the other two important markets. In fact, almost half the Chianti Classico is now consumed between the US, Germany and Canada.

Lower production in 2012

As the sales have risen, production has come down to 234,884 hLs in 2012 from 279,949 hLs with a drop of 16% primarily to bad weather and lack of water. This could be a blessing in disguise as it helped reduce the excess stocks by about 5% according to the Consorzio. In any case, it has been the lowest production since 2000.

Brunello here we come

Consorzio has come out in the open to take on the cheaper light-weight cousin, Chianti docg which has been perhaps riding on its political clout or simply because both are in Tuscany (in 1716 when the area was defined, it was called Chianti anyway-only in 1932 was the Black Rooster born and the original Chianti was re-christened as Chianti Classico in the specified area of Florence to Siena with its own rules.) In India, there is hardly any awareness about the quality and specification difference between Chianti Classico and Chianti - generally the popularity of the individual brands and lower prices play a more important role.

Still considered inferior to Brunello di Montalcino and even a step behind Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, it is perhaps the need for the Chianti Classico producers to start planning about how to project being closer to the better appointed cousins using primarily the same grape (Sangiovese) but with different terroir.

At any rate, the current ‘revolutionary’ initiative of the Consorzio is timely and it must continue to focus on projecting the wines as quality wines outside Tuscany and Italy.

Subhash Arora 


Tags: Sergio Zingarelli,Rocca delle Macìe,Giuseppe Liberatore,Grands Crus Burgundy,Brunello di Montalcino,Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Want to Comment ?
Please enter your comments in the space provided below. If there is a problem, please write directly to Thank you.

Generate a new image

Type letters from the image:

Please note that it may take some time to get your comment published...Editor

Wine In India, Indian Wine, International Wine, Asian Wine Academy, Beer, Champagne, World Wine Academy, World Wine, World Wines, Retail, Hotel


Copyright©indianwineacademy, 2003-2020 |All Rights Reserved
Developed & Designed by Sadilak SoftNet