Chianti Classico Riserva - Football's favorite wine


To understand the pedigree of these wines, you need to understand a little bit of their background and history.  
The first documentation of a wine region named Chianti dates all the way back to 1716. This region was quite large and by 1932, had to be re-drawn because of the large variations in quality and style of the wines that had been produced there.  The region was divided into seven sub-zones bason on the nearest “city”: Classico, Colli Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Colline Pisane, Colli Senesi, Montalbano and Rufina.

Chianti Classico encompassed most of what was the original zone, and has been recognized as the leading appellation in terms of quality. The introductions of the DOC in 1967, and DOCG in 1984 meant a set of; highly enforced rules that governed everything from what grapes could be blended to how long the wine must age prior to release. These standards were monumental in the transformation of generic fiasco Chianti (large squat bottle enclosed in a straw basket), into wines that are now seen as rivals to the great reds of Montalcino and Montepulciano.

Today, Chianti Classico must contain at minimum 80% Sangiovese, allowing for the blending of other international varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and even Syrah. It was only in 1995 that producers were permitted to make Chianti Classico with 100% Sangiovese grapes. Basic Chianti Classico can be released fairly immediately after bottling, however, producers have begun to select the best grapes for their Riserva bottling, which at minimum must age for 24 months after harvest before release into the market. These extra two years, which the wine; typically spends maturing in wood vats or French barrels, creates a tremendous amount of structure, color, and tannin. The end result are some of the most age-worthy, deep, and satisfying wines one will ever encounter, and as often is the case, some of the best value premium wines in the world.

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  • Snooth User: oceank8
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    55708 2,030

    Thanks for the info. I like the straight to the point blog without a lot of fluff! Makes it very easy to read and understand for those of us that don't know a lot about wine (except how much we like to drink it).

    Sep 16, 2008 at 9:30 AM

  • Snooth User: Daniel Petroski
    Hand of Snooth
    30091 715

    Ditto the praise. Thanks for the post. My favorite non-Riserva, Isole e Olena.

    Sep 16, 2008 at 11:16 AM

  • We have the privilege of frequent visits to the Chianti region and carried back lots of wine. I am concerned about length of storage. We just had a bottle of Il Palagio Chianti Classico (Riserva) 1997 ( a great year by the way) and I was wondering if it might have been too old for prime consumption. It has been stored in a very cool dark place and tasted great but I was wondering about others that we have stored.

    Sep 12, 2009 at 5:00 AM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 4,986

    Chiantis, in my experience, don't last as long in storage as, say, Brunello di Montalcino, or some super Tuscans from that general area. That being said, the Chianti Classico Riservas, when well made, of a good vintage, and at-least-as-importantly are stored well, will last quite a while. Light and vibration are as much to avoid as fluctuating temperatures. 10 to 15 years shouldn't be a problem. 20 or more and you'll need to be very selective with the vintage and winemaker, I would think…

    Sep 12, 2009 at 7:10 AM

  • Snooth User: modboy
    813133 37

    I'm attending a wine tasting party on Saturday and one of the two wines selected is Chianti. Anyone have suggestions for a decent brand - maximum purchase amount is $15.


    Feb 13, 2012 at 3:04 PM

  • Very nice article, but a wrong information to correct: Chianti Classico is NOT a sub-zones of the Chianti DOCG, but a DOCG on its own. So actually Chianti and Chianti Classico are TWO DIFFERENT WINES, with different allowed blends, production areas, etc. So:
    1) the rules indicated are the prescriptions of the Chianti Classico DOCG, not of the Chianti DOCG sub-zone Classico: such a thing DOES NOT EXIST;
    2) there's a sub-zones to add to the list of Chianti DOCG sub-zones reported: Montespertoli, added in 1997 (if I remember well).
    Kind regards
    Riccardo Margheri

    Dec 12, 2014 at 12:52 PM

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