Chianti steeped in history,
Chianti started quite small, three towns Castellina, Gaiole, Radda combined to start the Lega di Chianti. [League] In 1716 Cosimo de’ Medici, Duke of Tuscany, issued a proclamation to create the boundaries of Chianti. This action made Chianti Classico the first defined wine region in the world!
With evolution came the need to control and define quality.
Chianti obtained DOC in 1967 and was recognized by DOCG in 1984. “Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita” which, was inspired by the system created by France’s AOC “Controlled Designation of Origin.”
The straw bottle made famous in Chianti is called a fiasco [Flask] and seldom seen today, The official grapes, along with Sangiovese in the 1800s were Canaiolo and 15% Malvasia Bianca; making a fruitier but flat tasting wine. Today, Chianti Classico is allowed to be 100% Sangiovese. Other Chianti regions have to have 80% Sangiovese with Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon added to it.
The Legendary Rooster!
Chianti has many Roman castles, a reflection of the war between Siena and Florence. The rooster is the symbol of the Chianti Classico. Legend has it that it was a by-product of the conflicts amongst the rivals Florence and Siena. Seeking to resolve the issues once and for all, A horse and rider from each town would start racing towards each other the moment a rooster crowed and where they met would be the boundary between the two city-states. Siena chose a healthy white rooster while Florence chose a skinny, hungry black rooster. Florentine’s unhappy black rooster crowed before sunrise. This gave Florentine a head start. The riders met at Fonterutoli only 10 miles outside of Siena making almost all Chianti Classico within the region of Florentine. Classico may have the “black rooster seal.” (Gallo Nero) on the neck, stating the wine is a member of the Chianti Classico Consortium.
While aged Chianti, 38 months or more, may be called Riserva. Chianti Superiore has the most robust guidelines with a higher minimum in both alcohol and lower yields. However, Classico is never allowed to use the term “Superiore!”
Modern Chianti is an exploration of evolution. Whether it be an everyday Chianti, a Classico, Reserva or Superiore, there is a style for you!