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Posted: Tuesday, 22 June 2021 12:05


Chianti Classico announces Terroir-based Sub-zoning UGA

June 22: While many Indians still cannot tell the difference between a Chianti Classico and the ubiquitous Chianti, the Chianti Classico (Black Rooster) Consortium has announced the terroir- based sub-classification of 11 areas called UGA for the top quality Gran Selezione using these sites on the labels while other wines may be allowed in the near future, writes Subhash Arora who feels this may create further confusion in the minds of novices but the terroir-driven connoisseurs would appreciate the Burgundy- type of sub-zoning and will progressively consume more as the availability improves

Chianti Classico has been always striving to create a USP by creating differentiators to enhance the product image of Chianti Classico wines and bringing them closer to the popular Brunello di Montalcino or even Vino Nobile di Montepulciano which use the local Sangiovese grapes in different clones and proportions from (70 %Vino Nobile-100% Brunello)- and all of them classified as DOCG wines (including Chianti). Of course, one ought not compare the flavours due to different terroirs.

New UGAs defined

After years of discussion and debates the Chianti Classico Consortium announced last week significant changes to the rules and regulations by introducing UGA-the Unità Geografiche Aggiuntive (additional geographical units) to the labels.  The Chianti Classico DOCG wines gets 11 new sites as sub-zones: Castellina, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Gaiole, Greve, Lamole, Montefioralle, Panzano, Radda, San Casciano, San Donato in Poggio (including Barberino Tavarnelle and Poggibonsi) and Vagliagli. 

The selection of the areas is based on criteria such as the recognisability of the wines, the history, the degree of recognition and their importance in the scope of production.

Also Read : Strange Case of Chianti Classico Gran Selezione vs. Chianti Gran Selezione DOCG

Territory makes the difference

Territory makes the difference (Think Burgundy!) and this has always been one of the favourite mottos of Chianti Classico producers. Giovanni Manetti, an organic wine producer and President of the iconic Estate Fontodi and the Chianti Classico Consortium since 2018 says, "Chianti Classico is a truly unique territory, two-thirds of which is covered by forests and only one-tenth committed to winegrowing. 52.5% of the area under vines is now organic.”

Italian and EU regulations in fact allow DOP wines to refer to additional geographical units, identified within the production area of the denomination. One of the objectives of the proposed amendment is to strengthen communication of the wine-territory combination, increase quality in terms of identity and origin of territory and satisfy consumers who wish to deepen their knowledge of the relationship between Gallo Nero (Black Rooster) wines and their territory of origin. An implicit corollary is an increase in global sales.

Gran Selezione blend more indigenous

Besides this major change, the blend of Chianti Classico Gran Selezione wine has also been changed. At present, the three variants of Chianti Classico - Regular, Riserva and Gran Selezione – have the same specifications for grapes allowed to be used- 80-100% Sangiovese with up to a maximum of 20% blend of authorised autochthonous (indigenous) and international red grapes. (white is not allowed in Chianti Classico though Chianti still allows a small proportion). The new specifications call for a minimum of 90% Sangiovese with the balance being only local red grapes for Gran Selezione.  

Also Read : Tuscan Tasting 2018: Blind Tasting of Wines from 9 Municipalities of Chianti Classico

For the moment, only Gran Selezione will be allowed to carry the site names on the label, but the members are also inclined to use it in the Chianti Classico and Riserva in the near future.

Indians behind

Although Indians are slowly waking up to the difference between Chianti docg and Chianti Classico docg during the last few years, with the discerning ones preferring to drink the latter even though at higher price because of better quality with lower yields, more concentration, no white grapes, slightly higher but balanced alcoholic content, better ageing and of course diversified terroir, being in the central part of Tuscany. The winemaking regulations are stricter and logically, the Chianti Classico with the Black Rooster (Gallo Nero) band around the neck of the bottle offers a more elegant taste. Out of a total area of around 173,000 acres, merely 18,000 acres are designated as Chianti Classico; Chianti may not be produced within this territory.

Also Read : Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Top Wine of Enthusiast 2015

Nine Communes of Chianti Classico

The distinctive Terroir-based characteristics of Chianti Classico have already brought the Black Rooster (Gallo Nero) higher international rankings of quality wines, fame, prestige and popularity. At the annual Tuscan Tastings at Stazione Leopolda in Florence, the producers’ stands have been segregated by the zones for years. The producers spread from 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:  



San Casciano Val di Pesa (FL)



Greve in Chianti (FL)



Tavarnelle Val di Pesa (FL) (different than Tavernelle in south Montalcino)



Barberino Val d’Elsa (FL)



Poggibonsi (SI)



Castellina in Chianti (SI)



Radda in Chianti (SI)



Gaiole in Chianti (SI)



Castelnuovo Berardenga (SI) (only partial-the other area falls under Chianti Zone)

Blind Tasting of wines from 9 sub zones

As if in a run up to the present announcement, the Consorzio Chianti Classico had organised a blind tasting from all the 9 communes at the annual Tuscan Tasting to highlight the difference in soil in each of the territory in 2018. This was truly an eye opener for the international delegates.

Launch of Gran Selezione in 2014

The Consorzio had launched Gran Selezione in March 2014 with the first vintage of 2010 offered as the Top ended Chianti Classico wine. Only 39 samples were approved as Gran Selezione in what appeared to be a rigorous tasting process.  34 samples were submitted for Tasting that year.  It was apprehended that the producers might find it as an excuse to raise their price of slightly better quality wines that passed the muster as Gran Selezione. But over the years, it has received grand reviews from the Press and consumers alike. Today, Gran Selezione accounts for 6 % of total production in the Chianti Classico area. So far, 154 wineries have launched 182 different Gran Selezione in the market.

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

Valiano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione

Gran Selezione has been slow in arrival in India, thanks to the exorbitant duties. Only Valiano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione made by Tenute Piccini and imported by Prestige Wines and Spirits seems to have made a presence and that too not yet visible in the retail showrooms, thanks to the Pandemic but soon one would be able to locate and taste it. Hopefully, more and more connoisseurs on the lookout for Barolo, Barbaresco and Brunello would find it interesting to add it to their tasting repertoire. And with the 11 sub-zones declared on the label, it will add to the Brag Factor of this top-ended Chianti Classico.


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