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Posted: Friday, 08 May 2020 16:34

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Chianti Classico Gran Selezione might find Competitor in Chianti Gran Selezione

May 08: I was quite disturbed last November reading a report saying that Chianti docg would also introduce a Grand Selezione category to implicitly compete with Chianti Classico Gran Selezione introduced in 2014 as the highest quality in the hierarchy, and I went to attend the annual Tuscan Marathon this year bewildered and amused, says Subhash Arora who was glad to learn that no formal application had been made so far and now Chianti Classico Consortium is reinforcing its efforts of ‘Separate Together’ with the release of the New Online Catalogue yesterday

It may be fair to assume that Chianti docg is a younger cousin/ brother of Chianti Classico docg. There has been an inherent confusion about the two distinctly different wines in different areas- within Tuscany. Chianti Classico is in a smaller territory and very much terroir based with 9 sub-zones, each known for its own terroir. Chianti docg is a much wider area, outside this zone and has 7 distinct zones producing generally lower-coast, higher volume wines, and was recognised from the straw-basket (fiasco) in the 20th century till at least the 1960s and 1970s. These sub zones are in the provinces of Florence (FL) and Siena (SI)-going North to South:

 

1.

San Casciano Val di Pesa (FL)

 

2.

Greve in Chianti (FL)

 

3.

Tavarnelle Val di Pesa (FL)

 

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)

The Confusion between the two has its genesis in the Bando (Edict) that exists since 1716 when Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, officially delimited the Chianti production zone. It was defined as the area between the cities of Florence and Siena where the wine could be called Chianti and also included Carmignano, Pomino and Val d’Arno di Sopra which have independent Appellations now. Thus from the historical-geographical perspective Chianti has been generally used for the wines.

In the early 20th century, when Chianti wine became increasingly popular every year and the territory defined in 1716 was no longer able to meet the growing domestic and export requirements, wine began to be made outside the delimited zone. This was called Chianti or Chianti-style wine.

For consumers and wine insiders, the borderline between these two contexts is so unclear that the adjective “Classico” is often omitted in describing a Chianti Classico in tastings, comments and articles, despite diligent efforts by Chianti Classico Consortium. This adjective is very important since it distinguishes the two wines. They are two distinct and separate docgs with two different sets of production regulations, zones and consortiums for the protection of the product.

The makers of the original Chianti founded Consorzio per la tutela del vino tipico del Chianti e della sua marca di origine (Consortium for the Protection of Chianti Wine and its Origin) in 1924. They chose Gallo Nero (Black Rooster) as their trademark. In 1932 a specific ministerial decree was issued to distinguish Chianti in this zone by adding the adjective Classico. Since then, Chianti wine produced outside the geographical area has been called Chianti. Chianti Classico is now the wine made within the original production zone. By law, no Chianti wine may be produced in the Chianti Classico area.

Tasting Chianti Classico 2020

The visit to Leopolda Station in Florence, that comes alive with the producers and wines from Chianti Classico region was busy again for 2 days in February. It was even more exciting as producers were also present on both days for Tastings. The first day was reserved for journalists and professionals while the second day allowed general public too after 2 pm. At €5 a person that includes a take-away glass it gives a huge opportunity to consumers to taste their favourite Chianti Classico from around 200 top producers and interact with them. Very few places in the world offer such fantastic opportunity to learn wines from a region as in Tuscany. One day such tastings might be possible in India. It was a pleasure to observe not a single case of misbehaviour.

Another factor was in my tasting order. Normally, one starts with Chianti Classico, Riserva and then goes to the fuller bodied Gran Selezione. But by the time I requested the Sommeliers-sound professionals and ever eager to bring 6 labels at a time, a majority of the bottles were emptied. So this time, I tasted a vast majority of Gran Selezione first and confirm that the quality of these wines is on the increase. Jury is still out to declare if these wines are definitely a better quality and still offer value for money, but there is a shift to generally accept them as wines of higher quality.

I asked several producers about Chianti docg introducing Gran Selezione. While most producers viewed this intended step negatively, Giovanni Manetti of Fontodi, new President of the Consortium and who says he promoted the idea of introducing Gran Selezione, does not mind Chianti introducing this category. He says, ‘our idea was to focus on a wine that was from a single vineyard and terroir-specific and the best expression of Sangiovese from each of these sub-zones-nothing more, nothing less and we have achieved our objective.’

General consensus was that Gran Selezione could not be patented as it was the description of quality level like Riserva and so could not be fought legally but they hoped that good sense would prevail on the Chianti producers as this would confound the already confused market.

New Catalogue for Chianti Classico

The Consortium for Chianti Classico came up with yet another step to promote their products and the specifications yesterday. It launched a big catalogue online where with just one click, Black Rooster fans can locate their favourite wines by visiting the estates’ dedicated page on their website:

Here, they can find not only the estates’ e-commerce details, but also their contact information: e-shops in Italy and abroad, and the list of businesses offering delivery or takeaway service. Starting in mid-May, there will also be online chats with Valentino Tesi, winner of Best Italian sommelier 2019, and the first winner of the Master AIS Chianti Classico. He will guide the Chianti Classico aficionados in discovering the estates in the catalogue.

With the Chianti Classico Catalogue project, the Consorzio hopes to further the cause of “separate together” slogan to all the fans of Black Rooster and lovers of the gentle Chianti Classico hills. The website is both in English and Italian with information on various events and the region. Importers from India and other countries may even contact the producers directly for representation.

For a few of the earlier related Articles, please visit:

Strange Case of Chianti Classico Gran Selezione vs. Chianti Gran Selezione DOCG

Tuscan Tasting 2019: Leopolda comes alive with New Chianti Classico Collection

Anteprime Toscana 2019: Chianti Lovers may not love 2018 Vintage

Giovanni Manetti of Fontodi is new Chairman of Chianti Classico Consortium

Tuscan Tasting 2018: Poggiotondo Chianti Wines from Alberto Antonini are Super

Chianti Classico: Black Rooster still going strong after 300 Years

Subhash Arora

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