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Posted: Wed, 13 November 2019 08:37

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

Nov 13: Consorzio Chianti Vino dropped a bomb shell on Consorzio Chianti Classico on Monday morning by announcing that Chianti docg would also be introducing a top end wine appellation Chianti Gran Selezione and the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico is hopping mad and crying foul at this step which they say is nothing but copying and creating confusion in the world market where there is already enough, writes Subhash Arora who feels it is an internal matter but believes it being a trademark issue would invite an instant legal war in India

To those uninitiated readers who are surely confused after reading the introductory paragraph, suffice it to say that there are two different appellations known as Chianti Classico and Chianti, both of which have earned a DOCG appellation but as the name suggests, Chianti Classico is a much smaller designated area in Tuscany and commands a premium; with a justified belief that due to the true expression of terroir and much stricter rules of processing, Chianti Classico is generally a superior wine, although the bottom end of Chianti Classico may not be as good as the upper end of Chianti and a few areas like Rufina can claim to make a Chianti as good as Chianti Classico.

When delWine learnt about this unusual and shocking announcement, it inquired from Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico which replied ‘we strongly oppose their decision regarding the planned modification and find it incredulous because its purpose is a management strategy that is non-constructive, totally lacking innovative and original ideas’.

‘We are deeply saddened that Consorzio Chianti intends nothing more than rehashing our  promotional strategy of introducing in 2014 Gran Selezione, with identical features such as alcohol content, maturation period, and a ban on using flasks (fiasco), and obligatory certification for selling wines in bulk and un-bottled.’

Giovanni Manetti, current Chairman of the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico said in strong words, “We will categorically oppose the Chianti Gran Selezione proposal in all our institutional offices. We have undergone a full frontal attack which jeopardises the longstanding working relationship within the Tuscan wine producing sector, strongly supported and motivated by the Regional Administration, which has viewed us until now as involved and active leaders.”

‘Consorzio Vino Chianti had announced a few days ago about the increased sugar content in Chianti wine, presumably to appeal to the preference in foreign market, especially Chinese and American. Now they are talking about a strategy to improve product quality- just enough to generate confusing messages to consumers and deprive Chianti producers of clear long-term prospects.’

In a bid to enhance the quality perception of Chianti Classico wines, the Consortium had discussed and debated for three years, culminating in the introduction of the highest-end Chianti Classico Gran Selezione as a category through a government decree passed on 29 January 2014. This was even higher in hierarchy than Chianti Classico Riserva.

Stringent specs and controls have been laid out for a wine to qualify as a Gran Selezione. Among many other chemical, organoleptic tests to be passed by the samples, the wines must be made from grapes grown within the estate. The minimum alcohol requirement is 13% as compared to the 12% for Chianti Classico and 12.5% for Riserva. The solid extracts must not be less than 26 gms/l as compared to 24 gms/liter for Chianti Classico and Riserva over 25 gms/l.

Genesis of Chianti Classico and Chianti

The 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 so famous, the production area could no longer meet the growing domestic and international demand. Chianti began to be produced outside the original Chianti zone but still under the name of 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. In 1932 the suffix ‘Classico’ was added to distinguish the original Chianti from that produced outside the defined production zone. 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.

Confusing and Confounding

Despite their efforts to differentiate Chianti from Chianti Classico which is more expensive due to its inherently perceived better quality in the world market, the customers from US to China and even in India do not fully appreciate the difference and diversity in Terroir and the cheaper Chianti finds a flourishing market. The popularity of Chianti through the previous century had resulted in producers making Chianti in bulk with cheaper prices and in the 1960s and 1970s the product received a very negative publicity globally, resulting in a sharp fall in reputation and sales. Since then the conscientious producers have made discernible efforts to produce Chianti of better quality that even competes at times with Chianti Classico.

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)

Both Chianti and Chianti Classico Consortiums fall under the Tuscan Regional Authority which promotes the world famous Tuscan Tastings of Chianti Classico, Montepulciano and Montalcino. It added San Gimignano and even Chianti regions subsequently, making it an 8-day affair as compared to 4 days earlier. The annual Tasting known as Tuscan Marathon Tasting is held in February every year. It would be interesting to see if it affects in any way in February, 2020. The Tuscan Regional Authority has its hands full to decide the matter in a fair way.

For a few of the earlier related Articles, please visit

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

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Top Wine of Enthusiast 2015

Tuscany Taste 2014: Chianti Classico Gran Selezione launched in Grand Style

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

Subhash Arora

 

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