March 23: Even as Chianti Classico sales reach an all-time record of 37 million bottles with US being the most important market, the Consortium stepped up its campaign in a year of record drought in the last 70 years, resulting in the decrease of over a fourth of its production in 2017 but with higher quality, at the Tuscan Tasting last month in Florence where for the first time wines from the 9 municipalities of Chianti Classico were tasted blind to highlight different recognizable terroir of each of these areas
Although Indians are very 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 they are better quality with lower yields, more concentration, no white grapes in them, higher alcoholic content (though not too high either), better ageing and of course better terroir, being the central part of Tuscany. The wines are more strictly controlled and the regulations are stricter and logically, the Chianti Classico with the Black Rooster (Gallo Nero) band around the neck of the bottle offers more elegant taste. Out of a total area of around 173,000 acres, merely 18,000 acres are designated as Chianti Classico and no Chianti may be produced within this territory.
There were over 250 journalists who descended last month from 30 different countries including India to taste over possibly over 650 wines from 186 member wineries, at the old railway station Leopolda which comes to life every year with 2 days of tasting with the producers as well as individual tastings with over 50 sommeliers carting up to 6 wines at a time to pour. Besides the Anteprima Tasting of Chianti Classico docg 2016 and Chianti Classico Riserva docg 2015 there were 92 of the relatively new highest in the hierarchy –Gran Selezione 2015 (there were 39 samples when it was first introduced in 2014) and several older selections as well as 59 barrel samples of 2017 vintages for the interested journalists to taste over 2 days.
‘We come to Florence (from all parts of Chianti Classico producing areas in Tuscany) for tasting our wines after a hard season in 2017 when we registered a solid quantity decline but we hope the press and professionals will find the quality much better this time,’ asserted Sergio Zingarelli, President of the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico, in its 25th edition of the Chianti Classico Collection at this venue.
The Event witnessed presentation of other products like Olive Oil, cheeses, olives, prosciutto ham, balsamic vinegar etc , yet again.
Chianti Classico exports 33% of its sales to the USA, with Germany as the second highest import market at 12%. Interestingly, the domestic consumption at 23% is much less than the exports to the USA. Canada is a very respectable 8% at the fourth place. The wine is currently exported to 130 countries including India in a small way but with more wineries represented every year.
One of the new initiatives to promote the exports was the selection of 5 official honorary Wine Ambassadors by the Consorzio. One of them- Jeffrey Porter from Canada was invited to conduct a blind Tasting of Chianti Classico wines to the world from each of the 9 municipalities- San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Greve in Chianti, Tavernelle Val di Pesa, Barberino Val d’Elsa, Poggiobansi, Castellina in Chianti, Radda in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti and Castelnuevo Berardenga. He works in Bebo Authentic Grill Restaurant in Toronto where he has 78 labels of Chianti Classico, Riserva and Gran Selezione and where he has tripled sales and guests get excited about the proof.
To prove that each of the areas had unique terroir, Jeffrey selected all 2015 wines, similar in styles all of them from different areas- which had sandstone, chalk, altitude and soil aspects; he did however select the wines from estates making much better wines. Incidentally the company- tripled its sales since the new wines were added.
The results as Jeffrey emphasised, were not important-no one got all the estates/areas correct. The purpose was to be able to convince the audience that the individual terror did matter and was an important subject to appreciate the various wineries of Chianti Classico.
After the second day of tastings, all the journalists left for San Gimignano for the Vernaccia Tasting.
Wines for Tasting
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