Chianti Classico


I helped out at a trade event this week which was all about Chianti Classico. It was held at the Dali Museum in London, quite a “surreal” location for a wine event. There were 37 tables all devoted to Chianti Classico plus a table of 1997 vintages and a Masterclass.

It was a wonderful opportunity to taste so many wines of the same category and helped hone my tasting skills. The differences between the wines is quite noticeable whether you are considering the fruit, acidity, length or use of oak. It was also neat to be able to taste the 1997’s which is one of the best vintages for the region.

I also stood at the back during the Masterclass. The attendees were taken through the history and structure of the region by Marco Pallanti who as well as being President of the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium, is director of Castello di Ama who were showing their wines. They get a good recommendation in Wine behind the Label an excellent book. The other host was Tim Atkin MW who writes for The Guardian whom I first met when I was helping at the IWC as he is one of the co-chairmen.

Marco showed a neat web application that is going live in the next few months through which you will be able trace the provenance of any Chianti and eventually any DOC or DOCG wine. By typing in the characters on the pink part of the label it will take you right back to who produced it, along with how it was made plus all kinds of other interesting information.

So what did I learn from the day? That Chianti Classico must be made from a minimum of 80% Sangiovese with grapes such as malvasia no longer allowed. The other grapes can be local such as Canaiolo or Colorino or of the more international style such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. Additionally wine cannot be released for consumption until October 1st of the following year or in the case of Riserva wines, only after maturing for 24 months. And terroir means a lot to the producers. If you have been to Tuscany you know what the geography is like with lots of hills and valleys. Combined with the combinations of grape varieties and winemaking methods the differences between the various classicos I tasted was sometimes quite significant. I wouldn’t have thought that 800m in elevation could impact a wine in terms of how it tastes but it sure does.

But isn’t that variety just one of the many things that makes wine so interesting?

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Reader Comments

Chianti Classico is just my type of wine. The variety I agree makes the wine so interesting. In shops in Wales it is difficult to buy good wines.
Annette Strauch