What is Chianti ? Discover the Tuscan Classic

What is Chianti ?

What is Chianti ? The Grapes

Chianti is a red wine made primarily from Sangiovese grapes grown across the Chianti Region of Central Tuscany. The first recorded reference to Chianti wine dates to the thirteenth century.

By 1716, the wine of Chianti was being defined as a red wine made from Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Malvasia Bianca. From the vineyards around Gaiole, Castellina and Radda. Which along with Castelnuovo Berardenga and Greve form the Heart of the Classico district

It was not until the work of Baron Bettino Ricasoli established the modern Chianti blend  in the mid nineteenth century. That blend was a minimum of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiola, 10% Malvasia and 5% other local red varieties.

Chianti’s Going in a New Direction

In 1967, the Italian DOC regulation clearly established the Ricasoli Formula as the official blend for Chianti and Chianti Classico. Up to 70 % red grapes based on Sangiovese including Canaiola and Colorino. And up to 30% white grapes like Malvasia and Trebbiano.

By the 1970’s. Quality oriented producers wanted to reduce the percentage of white’s grapes used to make Chianti and Chianti Classico. In 1995, the regulations were changed and the percentage of white grapes allowed was reduced to 20%.

In 1996, the DOC regulations were amended to allow Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah ro be part of the blend.

Since 2006, the use of white wine grape varieties such as Trebbiano and Malvasia have been prohibited in the making of Chianti Classico.

What is Chianti ? The Region

With over 500 years of grape growing and winemaking tradition the Italian Government in 1936 redefined the Chianti region. Into 8 distinct districts, Classico, Rufina, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Senesi, Colli Arentini, Montalbano, Colline Pisane and Chianti. In 1996, part of Colli Fiorentini became a new district known as Monespertoli.

Each of these districts share the DOCG status which is the highest quality level the Italian Government awards to wine districts.

Soils

Climate.

What is Chianti ? Chianti Classico

There is approximately 18,000 acres of vineyards that qualify to use the Chianti Classico DOCG status. The wines produce under this designation must follow the minimum requirements. The vineyard yield is restricted to only 3 tons per acres. And must have a minimum alcohol by volume of 12%. The wine must be aged a minimum of 10 months of which 7 months must be in Oak barrels. And cannot be released before October 1st following the vintage.

The production of Chianti Classico is overseen by an association of Chianti Classico producers. Known as Consorzio del Vino Chianti Classico. This Consorzio was founded to promote the wines of Chianti Classico, improve the quality and to prevent fraud.

 Recommended Chianti Classico

2015 Castello dei Rampolla Chianti Classico

Suggested Retail Price $34.00

93 Points James Suckling

A wonderfully floral Chianti Classico with jasmine and elderberry flowers not to mention smoke, plums and light chocolate. Medium to light body, soft tannins and fresh acidity.

93 Points Vinous

The 2015 Chianti Classico is simply magnificent. A deep, boldly sketched wine featuring dark cherry, blackberry, licorice, lavender and spice. It offers unreal density and power at this level. The purity of the fruit alone is striking. Even with all of its obvious intensity, the 2015 maintains freshness and energy. It is without question one of the wines of the vintage so far.

92 Points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

The 2015 Chianti Classico is a polished and immediate wine that puts forth a beautiful bouquet built on solid layers of healthy primary fruit. The wine offers expansive aromas of cherry liqueur, cola, licorice and balsam herb. That unique vertical intensity you see here is what sets the wine apart. In fact, it may even show minimal volatility or other similar so-called imperfections. Although this quality serves to build the momentum and the persistence of the wine. I love the style put forth here.

92 Points Wine Enthusiast

Aromas of truffle, leather, menthol and mature plum take the lead on this concentrated red. The aromas follow through to the full-bodied, chewy palate along with fleshy black cherry, licorice and dried herb. Close-grained tannins provide the assertive framework. Drink 2019–2025.

2015 Felsina Berardenga Chianti Classico

Suggested Retail Price $26.00

94 Points James Suckling

Very focused and firm with chewy tannins and bright black cherry character. Medium body, dense center palate and a fresh finish. Solid. Fantastic wine. Drink or hold.

92 Points Wine Spectator

Dense yet rich, this red offers black cherry, earth and graphite aromas and flavors. Needs a year or two to find balance, yet the lingering, tobacco-inflected finish and refined tannins indicate the potential here. Best from 2019 through 2028.

92 Points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

The 2015 Chianti Classico Berardenga is not on the market yet and will be released towards the end of this year. The wine shows richness of fruit that is characteristic of this balanced and generous vintage. Soft layers of cherry, dark fruit, spice and moist earth peel back in slow succession. Despite its young age, the wine already shows a very promising textural impact that is both soothing and rich.

2015 Gagliole Rubiolo Chianti Classico

Suggested Retail Price $18.00

92 Points James Suckling

A full and chewy Chianti Classico with plenty of blackberry and black cherry character. Hints of flowers. Medium body, round and chewy tannins and a fresh finish.

90 Points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

This is one of the great value wines from Central Italy. The 2015 Chianti Classico Rubiolo is a vibrant expression of Sangiovese that shows the tonic and vibrant energy of the grape. The bouquet is polished and clean with summer fresh cherry, dark fruit and grilled herb. I suggest buying this wine in bulk for those happy moments when you are cooking behind the stove or outdoor grill. This is a fantastic food-prep Tuscan red.

2015 Bibbiano Chianti Classico

Suggested Retail Price $19.00

91 Points Wine Spectator

This features deep aromas and flavors of cherry, leather, earth and wild herbs, allied to a firm structure. Succulent and lingering on the dusty, tobacco-tinged finish. Drink now through 2025.

90 Points Wine Enthusiast

Made entirely with Sangiovese, this bright red opens with aromas of red-skinned berry, violet and eucalyptus. The savory, easygoing palate doles out tart cherry, star anise with a hint of citrus zest alongside fresh acidity and limber tannins. Enjoy through 2019.

2015 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico

Suggested Retail Price $22.00

92 Points Wine Spectator

This juicy red has grip, setting the backdrop for pure cherry, blueberry, earth, iron and tobacco flavors. Though light-weight, this should develop over the next three to five years. Best from 2019 through 2024.

92 Points Wine Enthusiast

Smooth and delicious, this opens with inviting scents of raspberry jam, cake spice, violet and a whiff of forest floor. The savory, juicy palate doles out ripe Marasca cherry, truffle and star anise framed in polished tannins. Drink through 2022.

2015 Casaloste Chianti Classico

Suggested Retail Price $25.00

94 Points Wine Spectator

A beauty, silky and packed with dark cherry, leather, iron and earth aromas and flavors. Harmonious and long, with a well-integrated structure and a mineral-tinged aftertaste. Drink now through 2029.

92 Points Vinous

The 2015 Chianti Classico is a bold, juicy wine. Black cherry, lavender and expressive spice provide much of its exotic, alluring personality. Lush and racy, but with vibrant fruit and tons of Sangiovese structure, the 2015 is a winner.

2015 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico RS

Suggested Retail Price $17.00

90 Points Wine Enthusiast Best Buy

This delicious, easygoing red boasts typical Sangiovese aromas of wild berry, crushed violet and a whiff dark spice. The juicy, enjoyable palate doles out succulent Marasca cherry, fleshy plum and cake spice while supple tannins provide smooth support. Enjoy through 2019. 

2015 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico

Suggested Retail Price $21.00

92 Points Wine Enthusiast Editors’ Choice

Intense aromas of fragrant purple flower, crushed berry, menthol and cake spice steal the spotlight. While the tight, savory palate doles out juicy black cherry, crushed raspberry, licorice and tobacco. Taut, fine-grained tannins provide the framework. Drink through 2023.

What is Chianti ? Chianti Classico Riserva

Under DOCG laws Chianti Classico Riserva’s must be aged at least 24 months at the winery. With a minimum alcohol level of at least 12.5%.

2015 Chianti Classico Riserva

5BOTTLZ

2015 Barone Ricasoli Brolio Chianti Classico Riserva

Suggested Retail Price $32.00

A blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.

93 Points James Suckling

Dried cranberries, dried redcurrants, blueberries, cedar and dried nutmeg. Full-bodied yet very linear and refined with really driven acidity. Which permeates the layers of red fruit right through to the tight finish. Drink now or hold.

92 Points Wine Spectator

The cherry and plum flavors are matched by leather, tobacco and almond notes in this sinewy red. Stays balanced and long, with the ripe fruit offset by dusty tannins. Best from 2020 through 2035.

91 Points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

The 2015 Chianti Classico Riserva Brolio (made with 80% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Reveals a tight structure with fine textural knitting and overlapping fruit flavors. The wine’s seamless integration is very impressive. It shows bright fruit flavors that are offset by spice, tar, smoke and grilled herb. There is nothing too heavy about this Riserva, and that’s the best part yet. The mouthfeel is buoyant, long and finessed. This wine is fermented in stainless steel (with up to 16 days on the skins). And it is aged in neutral oak for 18 months.

91 Points Wine & Spirits

Eighty percent Sangiovese, fifteen percent Merlot and five percent Cabernet Sauvignon lend a dark-fruited elegance. And vibrant menthol character to this wine. It rested in oak barrels for 18 months, gaining notes of toasted spice that complement the sappy red-cherry flavors.

90 Points Wine Enthusiast

This robust red is 80% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. It opens with aromas of black currant, cedar and a hint of violet. While the firmly structured palate offers dried black cherry, vanilla, licorice and a touch of mocha. Assertive but polished tannins provide support.

3BOTTLZ

2015 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva

Suggested Retail Price $28.00

A blend of 90% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo and Colorino.

96 Points James Suckling

Aromas of plums, cherries and hints of green olives. White truffles and deep earth, too. Full-bodied, so layered and beautiful with a fabulous texture and ripe tannins. It is so pure and minimalist in the end, showing the effect of traditional, hands-off winemaking. Don’t miss this. Decant before serving. One for the cellar. Drink or hold.

94 Points Wine Spectator

Tight and tannic for now, featuring cherry, black currant, leather, iron, juniper and tar flavors. Firmly structured, meaty and balanced on the tannic side, with a lingering finish.

90 Points Wine & Spirits

Monsanto’s 2015 Riserva is gracefully styled. With scents of lavender and dried herbs that mingle with flavors of ripe plum and cherry. Accents of tobacco emerge with exposure to air, giving the wine a smoky intensity. That would match well with grilled meats.

2015 Tenuta di Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva

Suggested Retail Price $30.00

94 Points James Suckling

This ripe Chianti Classico shows aromas of strawberries, cherries and red plums. Hints of earth, too. Full body, juicy tannins and a medium-deep finish. Delicious now, but it will be better in 2020.

93 Points Wine Spectator

Black cherry, blackberry and dark plum fruit is allied to a muscular frame, with dense tannins. Tobacco, rosemary, thyme and tar notes play supporting roles as this builds to a long finish. Best from 2023 through 2038.

92 Points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

The 2015 Chianti Classico Riserva Nozzole is a dark and fruit-forward wine with a beautiful profile of ripe, succulent cherry fruit. You taste the bright sunshine and softness of this cheerful Tuscan red. This is the kind of wine that immediately puts you in a good mood (also thanks to that low price tag). The fruit is ripened to that perfect point of softness, maintaining structure and acidity all the same. This is one of the best values of the vintage.

 

2015 Barone Ricasoli Rocca Guicciarda Chianti Classico Riserva

Suggested Retail Price $27.00

A blend of  90% Sangiovese, 5% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.

93 Points Wine Spectator

This red combines a ray of pure cherry with coffee, spice, wild herb and tobacco flavors in a seamless way. While sanguine and iron elements chime in on the finish. Balanced and elegant, with a lingering, complex aftertaste. Drink now through 2035.

90 Points Wine Enthusiast

Red-skinned berry, dark spice and balsamic aromas are front and center on this structured red. The firm, savory palate offers dried black cherry, licorice and grilled herb alongside fine-grained tannins. Drink through 2024.

90 Points Wine & Spirits

This wine has a silky texture and opulent ripeness that’s indicative of the warm 2015 growing season. And will appeal to fans of a more polished style of Chianti Classico. Notes of dried herbs and dark spices linger on the finish.

2015 Antinori Marchese Chianti Classico Riserva

Suggested Retail Price $45.00

A blend of  90% Sangiovese and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.

93 Points Wine Spectator

Tantalizing aromas and flavors of black cherry and black currant. Are shaded by toasty, spicy oak in this harmonious yet well-structured red. This is fluid, packed with mouthcoating tannins, energetic and long. Best from 2020 through 2036.

91 Points Wine & Spirits

Notes of tobacco and mint accent this wine’s flavors of red berry and apple skin. Charry Bourbon-barrel tones and earthy notes emerge as the wine sits in the glass. But the saturating red fruit persists through the balanced, lifted finish.

90 Points Decanter

As of the 2011 vintage. The grapes for this wine come exclusively from Antinori’s Tignanello vineyard in San Casciano in Val di Pesa. Similar to its big brother. Sangiovese is rounded out with Cabernet Sauvignon (plus Merlot). And ageing is in a combination of small French and Hungarian oak barrels. It’s on the dark end of the fruit spectrum. Revealing brambly blackberry flavours, though polished leather, tobacco and wood spice add dimension. While it is overall polished, the tannins have a stern edge.

What Is Chianti ? Chianti Classico Gran Selezione

In 2014, a new category  was introduced. It is made exclusively from the  winery’s own grapes grown according to stricter regulations compared to regular Chianti Classico. This classification also goes through a stricter tasting committee then the regular Classico bottling.

Highly Recommended

2012 Antinori Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 

Suggested Retail Price $60.00

93 Points Wine Enthusiast

Aromas of ripe black-skinned berries, scorched earth, exotic spices, menthol and a whiff of oak. Are just some of the scents you’ll find in this vibrant red. The elegant palate delivers mature Marasca cherry, crushed raspberry, orange zest, star anise. And a hint of espresso alongside polished, fine-grained tannins.

90 Points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

The Antinori family is intent on carving out a distinct identity for its Badia a Passignano estate. Fruit from this stunning spot was first made into a Chianti Classico Riserva. Since the Gran Selezione category was created, they decided to use this single vineyard for the appellation’s highest category wine. The 2012 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Badia a Passignano is the latest incarnation of this elite category. The wine was produced in 2010 and in 2011, but those two vintages were sold together. This 2012 edition represents a new start. The wine reveals less alcohol compared to 2011 and a more vibrant sense of acidity. It shows more color density as well, with some dark garnet and amber.

Although I like this vintage more than the previous release. I feel that more can still be done to fine-tune the results. Badia a Passignano counts 50 hectares of vines. Of which 30 hectares have vines aged up to 20 years old planted in deep soils. This site is harvested after Tignanello because cooler conditions make for a longer growing season. Yet, Badia a Passignano results in a more approachable wine with sweet tannins and bright fruit flavors. All the elements for a great Chianti Classico are here, but they are portrayed with more general simplicity.

90 Points Wine & Spirits

The warm, dry summer of 2012 gave a wine with flavors of chewy black cherry. And dried plum limned with dark chocolate and peppery spice. It’s a robust wine for Brunello fans to pour with steak.

90 Points Wine Spectator

This is taut and linear, with a solid base of tannins supporting plum, black cherry, licorice and underbrush flavors. Fresh and focused, with a long aftertaste walking the line between sweet and salty.

What is Chianti?  Rufina DOCG

There is approximately 1,900 acres of vineyards that qualify to use the Chianti Rufina DOCG status. The wines produce under this designation must follow the minimum requirements. The vineyard yield is restricted to only 4 tons per acres. And must have a minimum alcohol by volume of 12%. The wine must be aged a minimum of 9 months before release.

2016 Selvapiana Chianti Rufina

Suggested Retail Price $20.00

92 Points Wine Enthusiast Editors’ Choice

Thyme, woodland berry and floral aromas mingle with a whiff of tilled earth. The taut linear palate evokes juicy plum, Morello cherry, underbrush and tobacco alongside polished tannins and vibrant acidity. Enjoy now for its pristine fruit and precision or hold for more complexity. Drink through 2031.

91 Points Wine Spectator

A focused style, with cherry and plum flavors accented by a smoky note. Juicy and balanced, leaving hints of earth and tobacco on the long finish. Drink now through 2033.

2013 Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva

Suggested Retail Price $26.00

91 Points James Suckling

Very tight and refined with a linear structure and precision. Medium body, fine tannins and plenty of berry, tea leaf and lemon rind flavors. Pretty and focused. Delicious as always.

91 Points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

The 2013 Chianti Rufina Riserva Nipozzano is a soft and supple red wine that proudly displays its winemaking pedigree. There are no rough edges here. Instead, this wine offers a seamless link of red cherry, spice and toasted nut aromas. The mouthfeel is on the lean side. But the wine is immediately approachable and easy to pair with any kind of grilled meat dish.

What is Chianti ? Colli Fiorentini DOCG

 There is approximately 2,300 acres of vineyards that qualify to use the Chianti Colli Fiorentini DOCG status. The wines produce under this designation must follow the minimum requirements. The vineyard yield is restricted to only 4 tons per acres. And must have a minimum alcohol by volume of 12%. The wine must be aged a minimum of 9 months before release.

At this time, we have not found any wines worth bringing to your attention. If we find anything interesting we will gladly tell you.

What is Chianti ? Montespertoli DOCG 

There are approximately 1,400 acres’ pf vineyards that qualify to use the Chianti Montespertoli DOCG status. The wines produce under this designation must follow the minimum requirements. The vineyard yield is restricted to only 4 tons per acres. And must have a minimum alcohol by volume of 12%.  The wine must be aged a minimum of 9 months before release. This designation was created in 2011 by splitting the Colli Fiorentini district.

At this time, we have not found any wines worth bringing to your attention. If we find anything interesting we will gladly tell you.

 

What is Chianti ? Colli Senesi DOCG

 There is approximately 9,000 acres of vineyards that qualify to use the Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG status. The wines produce under this designation must follow the minimum requirements. The vineyard yield is restricted to only 4 tons per acres. And must have a minimum alcohol by volume of 11.5%. The wine must be aged a minimum of 3 months before release.

2016 Fattoria del Cerro Chianti Colli Senesi

Suggested Retail Price $14.00

A blend of 90% Sangiovese Grosso and 10% Canalolo Nero.

91 Points James Suckling

This is a dense and rich Chianti with berry, chocolate and toasted oak character yet it is fresh and delicious. Firm tannins.

 

What is Chianti? Colli Aretini DOCG 

There is approximately 1,600 acres of vineyards that qualify to use the Chianti Colli Aretini DOCG status. The wines produce under this designation must follow the minimum requirements. The vineyard yield is restricted to only 4 tons per acres. And must have a minimum alcohol by volume of 11.5%. The wine must be aged a minimum of 3 months before release. The Colli Arentini district is located in the Eastern Hills of Tuscany.

At this time, we have not found any wines worth bringing to your attention. If we find anything interesting we will gladly tell you.

What is Chianti?  Montalbano DOCG 

There is approximately 800 acres of vineyards that qualify to use the Chianti Montalbano DOCG status. The wines produce under this designation must follow the minimum requirements. The vineyard yield is restricted to only 4 tons per acres. And must have a minimum alcohol by volume of 11.5%.  The wine must be aged a minimum of 3 months before release.

This district overlaps with Carmignano and allowed to use the Chianti Montalbano designation.

At this time, we have not found any wines worth bringing to your attention. If we find anything interesting we will gladly tell you.

What is Chianti ? Colline Pisane DOCG 

There is approximately 400 acres that qualify to use the Chianti Colline Pisane DOCG status. And is located southwest of Pisa which is closer to the coast.

The wines produce under this designation must follow the minimum requirements. The vineyard yield is restricted to only 4 tons per acres. And must have a minimum alcohol by volume of 11.5%.  The wine must be aged a minimum of 3 months before release. This district is located is Western Tuscany near the coast. Most of the wine from this district are consumed locally.

At this time, we have not found any wines worth bringing to your attention. If we find anything interesting we will gladly tell you.

What is Chianti? Chianti Superiore DOCG

This designation can be used by all vineyards under the “Chianti” designation except for those vineyards in Chianti Classico.  They follow stricter regulations then Chianti DOCG. The vineyard yield is restricted to only 4 tons per acres. And must have a minimum alcohol by volume of 12%.  The wine must be aged a minimum of 9 months including 3 months in bottle. Before release and not before September 1st, following harvest.

At this time, we have not found any wines worth bringing to your attention. If we find anything interesting we will gladly tell you.

What is Chianti ? Chianti DOCG

Best Chianti's

There is approximately 26,000 acres of vineyards that qualify to use the Chianti DOCG status. The wines produce under this designation must follow the minimum requirements. The vineyard yield is restricted to only 4 tons per acres. And must have a minimum alcohol by volume of 11.5%. The wine must be aged a minimum of 3 months before release and not before June 1st, following harvest.

At this time, we have not found any wines worth bringing to your attention. If we find anything interesting we will gladly tell you.

 

 

 

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