No other region or wine in Italy have the magic of Tuscany and Chianti. Michele and I visited Tuscany in October for a little over two weeks and as always were captivated by the scenery, the food and the wine.
As a longtime Chianti lover, I was more than happy to attend the recent Chianti lovers U.S. Tour 2022. It included a seminar on Chianti followed by a walk around tasting with 24 Chianti producers presenting their wines.
Giovanni Busi, president of the Consorzio Vino Chianti and owner of Villa Travignoli made I few introductory remarks about Chianti and the importance of the American market for Chianti. He also said on more than one occasion: “Chianti is one of the best know wines and one of the least known wines.” Everyone knows the name but just what is Chianti?
Robin Kelly O’Connor one of the presenters
Mr. Busi introduced the three presenters. They were: Luca A. Alves, Chianti Wine Ambassador; Robin Kelly O’Connor, RKO Vine; and Adam Teeter, Vine Pair Founder.
Mr. Alves spoke about the history of Chianti, the Chianti Consorzio and the seven Chianti sub-zones. In answer to a question he explained the difference between Chianti and Chianti Classico. He said that they were promoted together until 1996 when they separated. Chianti Classico is the center area between Florence and Siena surrounded by the Chianti sub zones. There are differences in the percentage of Sangiovese required, aging and grapes allowed.
The Consorzio Vino Chianti was established in 1927 by a group of wine producers in the provinces of Pistoia, Siena, Arezzo and Florence. Later the Consorzio expanded to cover the whole production area covered by the DOCG. Now the Chianti production area is located in the provinces of Arezzo, Florence, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena. Chianti wines are designated as: Colli Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Senesi, Colline Pisane, Montalbano, Rufina, and the last, added in 1997, Montespertoli. In addition is the return of the Chianti “Superiore” which can come from anywhere in the Chianti wine area with the exception of the Chianti Classico zone between Florence and Siena. Superiore cannot have a name of an area on the label. There is also the Colli dell’Etruria Centrale. The DOC permits in the Chianti DOCG area the production of wines of a different quality from Chianti, which include reds, whites, roses, novello and Vin Santo.
The seven Chianti sub zones
Chianti can be made from 100% Sangiovese and it also have must be at least 70% Sangiovese but the law has limited the amount of international grapes such as Cabernet to 10%. Traditional Tuscan grapes like Canaiolo can also be used up to 30%, as well as Trebbiano and Malvasia, which are white grapes, up to 10%. Chianti may be released on March 1st of the year following the harvest. The sub-regions of Montalbano, Aretini, Pisane and Senesi may also be released on March 1st after the harvest. The sub-region of Montespertoli may be released on June 1st. The sub-regions of Fiorentini and Rufina may be released on September 1st of the year following the harvest. Chianti Superiore may be released on September 1st of the year following the harvest.
For the Riserva the wine must be aged a minimum of two years from January 1st following the harvest. For Chianti Fiorentini and Rufina, the Riserva has to spend at least 6 months in wood. For the Chianti Senesi Riserva the wine must spend at least 8 months in wood and 4 months in bottle.
The tasting was blind and we were not given the names of the producers. All other information about the wine was given to us.
All the wines were Reserve from the 2017 Vintage
Chianti Colli Pisane Pietro Beconcini made from 85% Sangiovese and 15% Cannaiolo and the vines are 65 years old. The soil is a base of sandstone with considerable intrusion of marine fossil formations by the Pliocene period, well integrated with abundant white clay high in PH. Elevation is 100/150 meters. The training system is spurred cordon and the harvest takes place the first 10 days of October. Maturation is in Slavonian oak for 18 months and then the wine ages for eight months in bottle. The wine has hints of violet, leather and cherry. This is old style Chianti Reserve at its best and a great wine to go with food.
Chianti Montalbano “IL Fondatore” Castagallo made from 100% Sangiovese. The soil is clayey, marly matrix. This single vineyard is at 400 meters and the vines are 30 years old. The training system is spurred cordon and the exposure is south. There are 5,200 plants per hectare. They practice organic farming. Fermentation takes place in steel vats and the wine is aged for 12 months in 10HL French oak casks and in bottle for 6 months before release.
Chianti Colli Senesi Poggio Del Moro made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Syrah from 10 to 20 year old vines. The exposure is southeast/west. The soil is 79% sand, 15% clay and 6% light loam. The vineyards are at 335-365 meters and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. Holistic agricultural practices are used with manure and green manure techniques. The grapes are hand picked and there is another selection on the sorting table. Maceration is for 12 days at a controlled temperature with frequent pumping over of the must. There is gentle pressing of the grapes. The wine ages is 5HL oak barrels for 12 months and another 12 months in bottle and is bottled during the waning moons of June and July.
Chianti Montespertoli “Ingannamatti” Podere Dell’Anselmo made from 100% Sangiovese from the Ingannamati vineyard planted in 1993 and from other older vineyards. The soil is clay and limestone and the training system is spur cordon. There are 3,500 to 4,500 vines per hectare. Traditional maceration for 10 days at a controlled temperature. The wine remains for 16 months is stainless steel vats and then two months in glass. The wine has hints of plum and cherry with floral notes
Chianti Colli Fiorentini “Torre a Cona” Badia Corte made from 100% Sangiovese from a single vineyard. The grapes are hand harvested from the Badia a Corte vineyard that has typical Alberese limestone soil. The grapes are fermented in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature with a selection of native yeasts with 15 days maceration on the skins. The wine is aged in 25 HL Slavonian oak casks for 24 months and for 6 months in bottle before release.
Chianti Colli Aretini “Bucca Nera” Tenuta Di Cambriano Made from 85% Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet and Merlot. The soil is clay and gravel. The vineyards are at 500 meters with a south/west exposure and the training system is spurred cordon. There are 4,000 plants per hectare and the average age of the vines is 35 years. Fermentation is in stainless steel and the wine is aged in botti grandi for 24 months and 6 months in bottle before release.
Chianti Rufina Vigneto Bucerchiale Fattoria Selvapiana made from 100% Sangiovese. This single vineyard is at 250 meters and the vines are 43 years old. The exposure is south and the training system is spurred cordon. There are about 3,500 vines per hectare. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats. The wine ages in French barriques (only (10% new) for 15 months and in bottle for 9 months before release. This is a wine that can age and I have enjoyed older vintages of Selvapiana over the years.
All the wines were showing very well. I was happy to see the use of international grapes was limited and I enjoyed all the wines.
The presenters did an excellent job putting the wines in the correct order, of discussing each wine and describing the flavors and aromas, and if they could age. It was the most informative and professional tasting I have attended in a long time.
At the end we were given some tasty snacks to sample with the wines
including truffle flavored potato chips,
and pop corn. It was an interesting combination.