Understanding Chianti vs Chianti Classico Through Their Tangled Pasts

Mapping Terroir: Chianti vs Chianti Classico

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Understanding Chianti vs Chianti Classico Through Their Tangled Pasts

by L.M. Archer

Mapping Terroir: Chianti vs Chianti Classico

Trying to understand Chianti vs Chianti Classico is a little like driving in Italy – maddening, frightening, and strangely exhilarating. Also rewarding. Good Chianti wines abound – unraveling the region starts with a swipe through its noble yet tangled past.

Black Rooster, Red Wine

Chianti resides within Italy’s famed Tuscany region. Etruscans introduced grape growing to the region in the 6th century. Florence and Siena fought over its bounty during the Middle Ages.

Ruled by the powerful Medici family for centuries, Grand Duke Cosimo d’Medici III delineated Chianti’s first wine production zones in 1716. These vineyards spanned Florence in the north, Siena in the south, Arezzo in the east, Pisa in the west, and Pistoia and Prato in the upper northwest. Over the centuries, Chianti’s reputation and stature grew.

Consequently, to protect its flourishing vineyard and wines, the region founded Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico in 1924. The group chose Chianti’s ancient military emblem as its symbol, the black rooster (“Gallo Nero”).

Unfortunately, Italy’s notoriously dysfunctional government delayed approval of Chianti as an official wine region until 1932. Post-war Italy finally awarded Chianti Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) status in 1967.

Moreover, thanks to successive farming and production improvements, Chianti earned Italy’s highest level of wine classification, Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (D.O.C.G.), in 1984. However, in a typically Italian twist of fate, Chianti Classico separated from Chianti D.O.C.G. in 1996. Consequently, Chianti Classico D.O.C.G. maintained the original growing regions in the heart of Tuscany, while Chianti D.O.C.G. vineyards generally flank around it. One of the oldest sub-zones, Chianti Rùfina, captured the attention, and protection, of Cosimo III in his famous 1716 Medicean Notice. READ MORE HERE.


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