Want to know everything about Chianti wine before buying one for your collection?
The Chianti area of Tuscany is known for its olive groves, extra-virgin olive oil, and of course, the delicious Chianti red wine!
While its tangy acidity and intense flavors make it a popular drink among all, wine collectors and investors admire the wine for its excellent aging potential.
Take a Chianti wine tour and discover everything about this Italian wine - from its colorful history and food pairings to the best Chianti wines in 2021.
Also, find out the easiest way to buy them.
This Article Contains
- A Quick Intro to Chianti Wine
- A Brief History of Chianti
- The Grape Varieties of the Chianti Blend
- The Chianti Wine Region
- Classifications of Chianti Wine
- Taste and Characteristics of Chianti Wine
- Food Pairings with Chianti Wine
- Best Chianti Wines to Buy in 2021 (Including Tasting Notes, Prices)
- 1986 Castell'in Villa Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG
- 2001 Fontodi Vigna del Sorbo Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG
- 2006 Castello di Volpaia Il Puro Casanova Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG
- 2010 Felsina Berardenga 'Colonia' Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG
- 1977 Machiavelli Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG
- 1983 Fattoria Montagliari Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG
- 2016 Castello di Ama Vigneto Bellavista Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG
- 2006 Castello di Ama Vigneto La Casuccia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG
- 2010 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG
- 2015 Il Caggio IPSUS Chianti Classico DOCG
A Quick Intro to Chianti Wine
Chianti is a medium to full-bodied red wine from the Chianti region of Tuscany in central Italy.
Made from the Sangiovese grape, Chianti can be a varietal wine or a blend of Sangiovese and other white and red grapes. The wine is admired for its classic savory taste of red fruits, spicy aromas, bright acidity, and firm tannins.
Did you know Chianti was a white wine region that gradually evolved into a red one?
Let’s dive in and explore all about it.
A Brief History of Chianti
Viticulture has existed in the Chianti region (near Florence) since the 13th century. During this period, the merchants of Castellina, Gaiole, and Radda formed the ”League of Chianti” to promote local wines.
Let’s go through the main events that shaped modern Chianti wine.
- The origins of Chianti dates back to the 13th century when it was a white wine. But, the grape composition changed over the years, and it slowly evolved into a red.
- In 1716, Cosimo III, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, declared the towns of Radda, Gaiole, Castellina, Greve, and Panzano as the official Chianti wine region.
- Following this, Baron Ricasoli, the second Italian Prime Minister, created the first Chianti red wine recipe in 1872. It contained 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, 10% Malvasia, and 5% other local red grape varieties.
- The success of the “Ricasoli formula” led to the mass-production of Sangiovese grapes, and the quality of the grape deteriorated. It led to Chianti being known as a cheap squat-bottle vino in straw baskets (called fiasco.)
- The 1924 Consortium of Black Rooster (Gallo Nero) aimed to protect authentic Chianti wines by checking the production quality of Sangiovese.
- In 1967, the DOC regulations by the Italian government tried to establish the "Ricasoli formula".
But many winemakers didn’t want to follow this. They created wines with Sangiovese grapes blended with international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.
These wines that were initially called “vino da tavola” or "super Chiantis" are the revered Super Tuscan wines as we know them today! Among the best known Super Tuscans are Tignanello (the first Super Tuscan), Solaia, Masseto, and Ornellaia.
- With their success, the Government modified DOCG regulations, and many of these vino da tavola wines came to be labeled as Chiantis.
The Grape Varieties of the Chianti Blend
According to the DOC regulations, Chianti wines must have at least 70% of the Sangiovese grape variety (80% for Chianti Classico.)
Other red wine grapes like Canaiolo, Colorino, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot are also allowed in the Chianti blend. For white grapes, the winemaker can add up to 10% Malvasia or Trebbiano.
However, Chianti Classico winemaking regulations don’t allow any white grapes in their blend.
Also read: Explore the most elegant sparkling wines from across the globe.
Now let’s take a quick Chianti wine tour.
The Chianti Wine Region
The Chianti wine region extends from Florence in the north to Siena in the south. It stretches up to Valdarno in the east, and to Val d’Elsa in the west.
The Chianti wine region has two DOCGs under it - Chianti DOCG and Chianti Classico.
1. Chianti DOCG
Chianti DOCG covers the province of Pisa in the west, Florentine hills in the north, the Arezzo province in the east, and the Siena hills in the south. The appellation has seven subregions.
- Montalbano: Located in the Prato province to the west of Florence, this Chianti region is known for its soft and scented wines with higher portions of Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Chianti Rufina: Chianti Rufina, one of the smallest wine regions in Chianti, is located to the east of Florence. Chianti Rufina produces high-quality Chiantis admired for their intricate and concentrated flavors. Apart from Sangiovese, Colorina is another popular grape here.
- Colli Fiorentini: Bordering Florence in the north, Colli Fiorentini produces easy-drinking, well-rounded, and fruity Chiantis. White grapes constitute only 2% of total vineyard production.
- Colli Aretini: This Chianti subzone is situated in eastern Tuscany. Colli Aretini wines are light-bodied and have bright acidity.
- Colli Senesi: The southernmost Chianti zone, Colli Senesi encompasses the famous wine regions of Tuscany - Montepulciano, Montalcino, and San Gimignano. Senesi’s wines exhibit a strong fruity character.
- Montespertoli: Montespertoli in southwest Florence was established in 1984, and is the youngest Chianti subzone. It produces lush and balanced Sangiovese wines.
- Colline Pisane: The westernmost subregion, this Chianti zone is located near the sea, which gives it a distinctive terroir. Its wines tend to be softer, lighter, and less tannic than other Chiantis.
2. Chianti Classico DOCG
The Chianti Classico area is the oldest in the Chianti wine region of Tuscany and covers the towns of Radda, Gaiole, Castellina, Greve, and Panzano. The Classico region was expanded beyond these towns in the 1930s and finally became a separate appellation in 1984.
Chianti Classico DOCG has nine communes:
- Barberino Val d’Elsa
- Castellina in Chianti
- Castelnuovo Berardenga
- Gaiole in Chianti
- Greve in Chianti
- Radda in Chianti
- San Casciano Val di Pesa
- Tavarnelle Val di Pesa
Chianti Classico has its own aging regulations. For Classico wines, there are three quality tiers.
- Annata or standard Chianti: Aged for at least 12 months
- Riserva wine: Aged for 24 months
- Gran Selezione (Superiore) wine: Aged for at least 30 months
Chianti Classico wine is characterized by its traditional Gallo Nero (black rooster) symbol and intense red and black fruit flavors and spicy aromas.
Also read: Build a beautiful wine cellar in your home with this comprehensive guide to designing a wine cellar.
Now, how is Chianti Wine classified?
Classifications of Chianti Wine
Based on the time spent in barrels, Chianti wines (Chianti and Chianti Classico) are classified into:
- Chianti Normale (Basic Chianti): Aged for 6 months
- Chianti Superiore: Aged for a year
- Chianti Riserva: Aged for 2 years
Taste and Characteristics of Chianti Wine
A typical Chianti DOC wine is medium to full-bodied, dry, and has an average ABV of 12% to 14%. In the glass, it showcases a ruby red color. An aged Chianti will have hues of burnt orange.
There’s no surprise that the Sangiovese grape is the reason behind Chianti’s savory fruit flavors.
Chianti wine is characterized by its notes of red fruits, dried herbs, balsamic vinegar, and smoke. You’ll also notice flavors of sour cherry, espresso, and sweet tobacco in an aged bottle of Chianti.
Food Pairings with Chianti Wine
Chianti’s red fruit flavors, high acidity, and firm tannin make it a perfect wine to be paired with rich fatty dishes.
You can pair it with pasta, cheese, or a classic Sienese dish like Crostini Neri.
Read more: Find the right wine glass to serve your delicious Chianti.
Best Chianti Wines to Buy in 2021 (Including Tasting Notes, Prices)
Here are our favorite wines from the Chianti and Chianti Classico region:
1. 1986 Castell'in Villa Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, Tuscany, Italy
A fully mature Tuscan wine, this Chianti Classico has savory notes of dark fruits. Wine tasting reveals aging notes of dusty leather, earth, and mushrooms. Extremely silky on the palate, it leaves a lasting finish of tart cherries.
Price of 1986 Castell'in Villa Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, Tuscany, Italy: $396
2. 2001 Fontodi Vigna del Sorbo Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG, Italy
A very graceful Chianti Classico by the prestigious Chianti producer, Fontodi, this 2001 vintage is developing aging notes.
On the nose, earthy notes dominate the aromas, while the palate has bright acidity with fading tannins. It is a well-rounded wine that leaves a licorice afternote.
Price of 2001 Fontodi Vigna del Sorbo Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG, Italy: $130
3. 2006 Castello di Volpaia Il Puro Casanova Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG, Italy
The Fattoria Castello di Volpaia winery specializes in wine made from the Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon grape.
Wine tasting of this Chianti Classico wine gives off cherry and violet notes with vanilla and cacao hints. This Italian wine is soft and silky on the palate and has a long finish.
Price of 2006 Castello di Volpaia Il Puro Casanova Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG, Italy: $231
4. 2010 Felsina Berardenga 'Colonia' Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG
This highly tannic Italian wine from the Chianti region is a deep ruby red and has a vibrant nose. The bright cherry flavors are balanced by the subtle oak barrel aging notes.
Price of 2010 Felsina Berardenga 'Colonia' Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG: $138
5. 1977 Machiavelli Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG
This medium-bodied Tuscan red wine has intense cherry flavors with subtle flint, herbs, tobacco, vanilla, and chocolate notes. The slightly acidic and silky tannins give this Italian wine a full-rounded palate.
Price of 1977 Machiavelli Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG: $118
Also read: Read this simple guide to estimate the calories in your favorite red wine glass.
6. 1983 Fattoria Montagliari Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG
The 1983 Fattoria Montagliari Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG is a rare red wine with orange hues. This classic Sangiovese wine has savory red fruit flavors with mature notes of aging.
Price of 1983 Fattoria Montagliari Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG: $230
7. 2016 Castello di Ama Vigneto Bellavista Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG
A beautifully elegant wine, the 2016 Castello di Ama Vigneto Bellavista Chianti Classico has rich and intense aromas of wild cherry, smoke, licorice, and tobacco. The palate reveals firm tannins which gives the wine a great aging potential.
Price of 2016 Castello di Ama Vigneto Bellavista Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG: $207
8. 2006 Castello di Ama Vigneto La Casuccia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG
The 2006 Castello di Ama Vigneto La Casuccia Chianti Classico is a blend of Sangiovese and Merlot. This Italian wine has intense aromas of black cherries, violet, mineral, and sweet spices.
Price of 2006 Castello di Ama Vigneto La Casuccia Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG: $282
Also read: A sweet wine lover? Explore the world of delectable Moscato Wine.
9. 2010 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG
This Chianti Classico producer has used 8% Syrah grape variety in the blend. It has a layered and complex palate with dark stone fruit, undergrowth, spices, herbs, and oak notes.
Price of 2010 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG: $255
10. 2015 Il Caggio IPSUS Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany, Italy
A single vineyard wine, this 2015 Chianti Classico has an elegant bouquet of cherry, dried fruit, herbs, and spices. It has firm tannins and a long polished finish.
Price of 2015 Il Caggio IPSUS Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany, Italy: $383
Now, for the big question:
Should You Invest in Chianti Wine?
From easy-drinking table wines to high-quality collectibles, Chianti has a lot to offer.
Apart from the highly coveted Super Tuscan wines like Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Masseto, Tignanello, and Solaia, the Chianti Classico DOCG wines (especially Chianti Superiore and Riserva wines) are hugely popular among serious collectors due to their ability to age slowly. It will take a Chianti Classico Superiore 10-15 years to reach its maturity.
Apart from Chianti, you can also invest in a range of other collectible Italian wines.
But how do you find the right wine by the best Chianti producer (or any others, for that matter?)
Your best bet would be to invest through a trusted wine investment company like Vinovest that helps you choose, buy, store, and sell authentic collectible wines.
Buy Chianti and Other Collectible Wines through Vinovest
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Own the Most Sought-After Wine Bottles in the World!
Chianti wines are savory and vibrant and are ideal for a weekend dinner or a lively ball. Many of them are also age-worthy and make perfect long-term investment assets as well.
The easiest way to invest in delectable, investment-worthy wines like Chianti is to build a portfolio through Vinovest.
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