What is Chianti Classico?
Chianti Classico is an Italian red wine, originally from Castellina in Chianti, Radda in Chianti and Gaiole in Chianti; since 1984, it has been awarded the DOCG (Controlled and Guaranteed Denomination of Origin), the highest recognition for quality Italian wines.
Editorial recognition: Shutterstock.com
Chianti Classico aged for at least two years (estimated from 1 January in the year of harvest), of which at least three months in bottle, and with an alcohol content of at least 12.5 ° can earn the title of " Chianti Classico Riserva ".
The reputation of " Gran Selezione " is a further recognition that the wine achieves by respecting stricter criteria (minimum aging of 30 months and presence of qualitatively adequate chemical and organoleptic characteristics).
Food and wine pairing of Chianti Classico
The Chianti Classico lends itself to accompany especially the meat, whether it is white, red or black; it also goes well with some offal.
The combination between Chianti and roast pork, beef and poultry is also famous, but also with hare-based stews and seasoned local cheeses. More than traditional, it is the combination of Chianti with the Fiorentina steak, the Cinta Senese and Cinghiale cured meats. It is excellent with veal liver and broad beans (known here as "pods").
The serving temperature of the Chianti Classico is 16-18 ° C; it needs to be uncorked at least two hours before and, if aged, it enhances the characteristics of the practice of decontamination in special decanters, duly rinsed and dried.
Production area of the Chianti Classico
Today the Chianti Classico production area, located in the heart of Tuscany (between the provinces of Siena and Florence), is vast over seventy thousand hectares. This territory is characterized by a draining, not very humid, arenaceous, calcareous, marly soil, with clayey shale, sand and pebbles.
The climate (continental) and the hilly morphology and the plots favor the brightness, the heat (even in the first autumn) but in no way the aphousness (not even in July and August). The thermal excursions between the daytime and night-time phases prevent excessively rapid, incomplete and partial ripening (only of the most exposed bunches), ensuring an adequate sugar level and the formation of compounds essential to the maturation of the color, of the alcoholic bouquet (never lower at 12 °).
The harvesting and processing (with different vinification techniques) of the grapes of the various types of Sangiovese is almost always in a separate and specific manner.
Vines of the Chianti Classico
Chianti Classico is a wine composed mainly of Sangiovese grapes ; alternatively it can be formed from a blend with no more than 20% of other black grape vines grown in Tuscany (especially Canaiolo and Malvasia, better if both and in equal measure).
Sangiovese is a vine that is not too delicate, but with production susceptible to both climatic and territorial variables; ergo, the grapes of the same Sangiovese cultivated in different climates and / or on different soils, although worked in the same way, will give rise to wines with very different bouquets.
The yield per hectare of Sangiovese used for the Chianti Classico is deliberately modest, to maximize and emphasize all the features we will discuss in the next section.
Oenological characteristics of Chianti Classico
Chianti Classico is a very fine wine. Its wine making characteristics are renowned throughout the world and is globally considered one of the highlights of the Bel Paese wines.
Chianti Classico is a limpid wine, also intense and deep ruby color. On the nose it shows floral notes of violets and iris, harmonized by a typical hint of red fruits; some niche products, often aged, have spicy and balsamic notes.
The flavor of Chianti Classico is harmonious, dry, sapid, tannic and tending to softness, prolonging the maturation time.
Outline of Chianti Classico production
The DOCG disciplinary of Chianti Classico is quite restrictive. Only suitable vineyards with a hilly position and orientation are used, at an altitude equal to or less than seven hundred meters.
The soil substrate must be arenaceous, calcareous, marly, from clayey schist, sand and pebbles; on the contrary, the vineyards are not suitable on damp, clayey ground and placed at the bottom of the valley.
New and thickened plants must necessarily have a density equal to or greater than four thousand and four hundred vines per hectare. The following are prohibited:
- Any type of forcing in production; while emergency irrigation is granted.
- The use of horizontal roofs; while the traditional cultivation system consists of the Guyot, the Tuscan bow and the spurred cordon.
During the process of vinification of the Chianti Classico the " Tuscan use government " (traditional oenological practice) is admitted, that is a refermentation of the wine already drawn off with grapes of the blandly wilted vines.
The disciplinary requires that any passage of production be made in the specific geographical area; any exceptions must be approved and authorized.
The minimum aging of Chianti Classico is until the first day of October of the year following the harvest.
Historical notes on the Chianti Classico
The term "Chianti" could derive from the Latin name "clangor", noise, to remember the hubbub of hunts typical of local forests. Or from the Etruscan clante (water), surname of families who lived in the area or indicative of the water wealth in the territory.
The notoriety of winemaking in the Chianti area dates back to the 1200s, referring to the Florentine “Lega del Chianti” of the producers of Sangiovese red wine. The emblem of the league consisted of a "black rooster", then maintained by the "Consorzio del Chianti Classico".
At the end of the fifteenth century there was already talk of "Chianti wine" and from 1600 it became an important export product
. Already in 1700 the Medici (ruling family) began to delimit the area of production of this wine, although different from that established in the 20th century.
In 1800, grapes began to be composed to improve the quality of Chianti wine, as well as the technique of the "Tuscan Government".