Discovering the Chianti Classico implies retracing all the main historical stages that have made the Chianti Classico DOC one of the most important wine associate-economic systems in the world.
A group of 33 producers gathered in Radda in Chianti aimed at protecting the production of Chianti and its brand, on May 14, 1924 and formed the Consortium of Chianti Classico. The symbol chosen was the Gallo Nero, the historic symbol of the Military Chianti League.
In those years, however, it was decided to produce the Chianti also in other areas of Tuscany, adopting the same practices and the same grapes of the territory of origin. This wine was sold under the name of Chianti, emphasizing that it was made the same way as Chianti Classico, and from that moment the geographical indication turned into a real wine designation. Alongside the original Chianti, other six different types of wine were originated. In 1984 the entire Chianti designation, and therefore its area of more ancient origin, Chianti Classico, obtained the DOCG (label guaranteeing the quality and origin of a wine), the highest recognition for quality Italian wines.
Two different denominations
In 1996 the Chianti Classico DOCG became an independent DOGC, and in June 2005, the brand of the Black Rooster was placed within the State mark and then compulsorily applied to all bottles of Chianti Classico, assuming a strongly connoted identity for the territory and the entire production chain.
There has long been an idiomatic confusion between two different geographical DOCG denominations: Chianti Classico and Chianti. The two terms “Chianti Classico” and “Chianti” coexist, indicating two different kinds of wines. On the historical-geographical level there is only the term “Chianti”, though.
The boundary between these two areas is difficult to pinpoint, both for consumers and professionals, so that the suffix “Classico” is often omitted when referring to a Chianti Classico. This suffix is really important indeed, because it distinguishes the Chianti Classico wine from the Chianti; two different DOCG, each with its specification, production area and a different Consortium.
The production area
Mostly covered by forests, where oak, chestnut and pine trees prevail in areas dotted with cypress trees; Chianti is an area with altitudes ranging between 200 and 800 meters. The climate is continental, but without excessive temperature changes. The soils, stony and shallow slopes, are also remarkable. The characteristics of the climate, soil and altitude, make the Chianti region particularly suitable for the production of quality wines, first of all the Chianti Classico, and another typical valuable product: the extra virgin olive oil.
The features of Chianti Classico
The Chianti Classico main grape variety, Sangiovese, finds here its natural consecration. It’s a Red grape coming from central Italy, with a ruby red color tending to garnet with ages, smelling of spices and wild berries and having a good, elegant, round and velvety structure.
In order to get the Chianti Classico designation, it is not enough to produce the wine in the Chianti region. One must also comply with a set of rules, first of all the very special ampelography base, including the presence of Sangiovese in a percentage ranging from a minimum of 80%. In addition to Sangiovese there may be present up to a maximum of 20% of other authorized and/or recommended local red grapes, like Canaiolo and Colorino, or international grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
From 2006 the two white grapes, Trebbiano and Malvasia, can no longer be used, previously their use was allowed up to a maximum of 6%.
From vineyards to the table
Chianti Classico is excellent with grilled red meats, game dishes, stews or mature cheeses. For a better tasting of this wine, the bottle should be opened a few hours earlier, allowing the wine to oxygenate and release all its scents. The ideal serving temperature is 16-18 degrees; if higher the wine is likely to stifle the floral notes in the alcohol; below this temperature range the wine becomes unbalanced in acidity. It is also important, whatever the combination, to choose the right glass: to taste a Chianti Classico it is necessary to serve wine in a tulip glass, in order to enhance its floral aromas.