Description 1 of 3


Chianti is perhaps Italy’s most popular wine, and in recent years has come to evoke images of basket-bottomed “fiasco” bottles, red and white checkered table cloths and Hannibal Lecter smacking his lips after reminiscing about sipping it paired with fava beans and a census taker’s liver. The origins of the name are nebulous. Some say its a derivation of “Clango,” “Clangor” or “Clanti” which can all refer to the call of a trumpet or horn, or the cry of a bird, hearkening back to the classical days of hunting expeditions. Others say it’s named for an Etruscan noble family, Clante. But by any name, there is evidence of its early stages as far back as the 14th century.
The Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo III de Medici, is credited with creating demarcated subzones in Chianti in 1716. In 1932, these were further subdivided into what now stands as its official zones: Classico (the “heart” of the region and considered the highest quality), Rufina, Colli Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Montespertoli (once part of Fiorentini, added in 1997), Collini Pisane, Colli Senesi and Montalbano. Wines are labeled under each zone separately, or can simply be called “Chianti.”
For centuries, Chianti was a blend of Sangiovese and whatever grapes were available, with no official “recipe.” In the mid 19th century, Baron Bettino Ricasoli created what became the official blend using mainly Sangiovese with smaller amounts of Canaiolo and Malvasia. 
During the 1970s, many producers chose to bend these blending specifications either to add grapes that weren’t part of the allowable list or different blending percentages, calling them Chianti Vino di Tavola. While some of these wines were part of a high end artistic movement to add complexity to the wines, others were done this way to bulk them out for cheap exports. The blending specifications were revised again in the 1980s to accommodate what had become a lasting trend: a minimum of 80% Sangiovese with the rest some percentage of Canaiolo, Colorino, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Syrah. 100% Sangiovese varietal releases also exist. In 2006, Trebbiano and Malvasia were banned from the allowable blend. 
The Chianti age labeling classifications are:
*Chianti = minimum four months
*Chianti Superiore = minimum of seven months
*Chianti Riserva = minimum of thirty-eight months
~Amanda Schuster
– Description from Amanda Schuster

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Description 2 of 3

Here's some history and legend regarding Chianti. First... the history... The original Chianti was defined in 1716 by the Medici family and included the area around Gaiole, Greve, Radda and Castellina. The borders were extended and redrawn in 1932 to stretch to the north of Firenze, south to Castelnuovo Berardenga, west to Tavarnelle Val di Pesa and east to the Chianti Mountains. There are now 8 sub-zones: Classico, Colli Aretini, Colli Fiorentino, Colline Pisano, Colli Senesi, Montalbano, Montespertoli & Rufina. ... now for the legend: Gallo Nero which in Italian means black rooster, is the symbol for the region's Chianti Classico producers association and you will find it on the necks of the bottles from this region. It's origins (keep in mindthe story was told to me by a Sienese) began in the 12th century when Florence and its rival Siena were continually warring over the rich territories between the two cities. Legends say they would resolve this quarrel with a race involving two knights, one from each city. The rules were agreed upon... the two knights would start the race when the cock crows. The point where the knights meet would be the new border. This is where it gets interesting... allegedly the Florentines had a black rooster which they kept unfed for days, so by the morning of the race it crowed well before dawn. Thus, the Florentines had an advantage because their knight left first and rode many miles deeper into rival territory, reaching Fonterutoli, a territory of Castellina. So the border was established in Castellina, close to Siena, in a place they named Croce Fiorentina. – Description from vigna uva vino

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Description 3 of 3

Cosimo III De'Medici officially recognized the Chianti Classico region's importance in 1716, making it one of the word's first Appellations. The current blend dates to the 1850s, when Baron Bettino Ricasoli of Brolio combined the power of Sangiovese with the graceful elegance of Canaiuolo, another red grape. This for what would now be called Riserva. To soften his lighter wines he added Malvasia del Chianti, a white grape. Much has happened since then. Sangiovese is still King, and indeed now many Chiantis are just Sangiovese. The white grapes Ricasoli used in his young wines, which were required in all Chianti Classico until the early 1990s, have mostly vanished. Canaiuolo is waning, while Cabernet, Merlot and other foreign varietals are coming in. Some producers use small wood and others large. Thus Chianti Classico is one of the most variable wines in Italy, running the gamut from light, zesty vini d'annata suitable for red sauced pasta and pizza, to towering Riserve, masterpieces of finesse and refinement best suited to gatherings of friends far from the table. – Description from Kphillips

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