It is produced in 70,000 hectares of land between the cities of Siena and Florence, in an area that embraces 8 municipalities: Greve in Chianti, Barberino Val d’Elsa, Tavarnelle Val di Pesa and San Casciano in Val di Pesa in the province of Florence; Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole, Radda, Castelnuovo Berardenga and part of the Municipality of Poggibonsi in the province of Siena.
The production of Chianti Classico is regulated by the latest production disciplinary (September 18, 1996) with the publication in the Official Gazette of the ministerial decree relating to the recognition of the Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin – D.O.C.G.
FeaturesChianti Classico DOCG wine has a brilliant ruby colour, tending towards garnet and a deeply vinous aroma. The taste is dry, savory tending to soft velvety over time. The maximum quantity of sugar must be 4 grams per liter of reducing sugars, the minimum total dry extract 2.3% and the minimum total acidity 5 per thousand.
Chianti Classico must be aged for at least 11 months (it can only be consumed on October 1st of the year following the harvest) and have a minimum alcohol content of 12%.
The alcohol content rises to 12.5% for the Riserva, which requires a minimum aging of 24 months, of which at least 3 of bottle refinement. Compared to the Chianti Classico, the Riserva is a more noble wine, it has a greater finesse, a longer smell and a cleaner taste.
Merit of the selected grapes that compose it and of the aging. It depends both on the vintage and on the harvest and the cultivation of the vineyard. Only 20% of the Chianti Classico becomes Riserva: the best grapes will be destined for him.
Dark red tending to garnet, it has a scent of spices and berries, an important and velvety structure. The best grapes are destined for the Riserva right from the start and are aged in small oak barrels which release their aromas to the wine.
It stays there for a period that varies according to the size of the barrel, before proceeding with the refinement in the bottle
The Riserva goes perfectly with roasted red meats, game and great cheeses: classic foods of the gastronomy of this area since ancient times.
The vinesThe undisputed protagonist of Chianti Classico is the superior quality Sangiovese, present in percentages that can range from 80 to 100%.
Other red berried grapes are allowed for a total amount that can reach a maximum of 20%: Canaiolo, Colorino, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Finally, two white berried grapes such as Malvasia and Trebbiano are allowed, which alone or together can reach a maximum total of 6% (only up to the 2005 harvest).
Cultivation and VinificationIn order for Chianti Classico to maintain its characteristics, the 1996 disciplinary regulates not only the production of wine but also the cultivation of vineyards: each hectare of land can produce a maximum of 75 quintals of grapes equivalent to about 52.5 hectoliters of wine; each plant can produce a maximum of 3 kg of grapes and to plant new vineyards 5 years must pass from the last harvest.
The vineyards must be located on land located at an altitude of no more than 700 meters above sea level.
The traditional form of training is represented by the Tuscan bow, derived from the Guyot technique. In recent years the “spurred cord” has become widespread, a form that lends itself to mechanization without sacrificing quality.
Between May and June the vines flower and in mid-June the flower turns into fruit, a process that goes by the name of “allegation”.
The grape gradually begins to color between July and August, starting the maturation phase, which will bring the grapes the substances necessary for the production of wine and reduce the acidity content.
In September, thanks to the fluctuating temperature ranges, the process ends making the harvest possible in the month of October.
Once in the cellar, the grapes are pressed and destemmed to obtain the must. It will rest in barrels where alcoholic fermentation takes place for about 2 weeks: the carbon dioxide produced by the yeasts pushes the skins upwards which form the so-called “cap”.
By stirring the cap several times, the polyphenols that give color and resistance to the wine, as well as the aroma, are released from the skins. The “drawing” then separates the pomace from the wine, which is subjected to “mallolactic fermentation”.
Then follow the decanting, the last of which coincides with the flowering of the vine.
At this point the Riserva is directed to maturation in oak barrels, while the Chianti intended for sale rests in barrels for a few more months.
How to drink itMedium-bodied Chianti Classico with low tannins suitable to accompany grilled red meats. The more elaborate dishes, however, such as game for example, require the more structured Riserva.
Chianti must be oxygenated before tasting: the bottle must be opened a few hours before, otherwise it must be decanted and it must be served at a temperature of 16/18° and a tulip-shaped glass is needed to enhance it.
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