Why Is a Chianti a Chianti?

How do you define "Chianti Classico"

To begin with, the wine is named after the region (not the other way around).

As for the wine itself, there are strict rules that govern what can and cannot be called “Chianti Classico.” With that designation, the grapes must come from one of 12 municipalities between Siena and Florence.

The Sangiovese grape must provide at least 80% of the blend, and since 2006 no white grapes are allowed in the mixture (a sharp turnaround from the traditional formula in place until the 1990s, when white grapes trebbiano and malvasia had to be part of the alchemy, along with the red canaiolo nero).

Also, only a certain density of vines are allowed per acre, and the end product cannot be sold until October 1 in the year following the harvest.

Keep in mind that these are among the rules for Chianti Classico.

Confusingly, there are other official Chianti zones in Tuscany, including:

  • Chianti Colli Senesi (from the hills around Siena that are not part of Chainti Classico)
  • Chianti Colli Fiorentini (same deal but near Florence)
  • Chianti Calli Aretini (near Arezzo), Chianti Colli Pisani (near Pisa)
  • Chianti Montalbano
  • Chianti Rúfina, perhaps my favorite, from the hills northeast of Florence—not the be confused with Ruffino, the name of one of the biggest makers and exporters of Chianti Classico and many other wines likely found at your local wine shop in the States.
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