Chianti vs. Chianti Classico: let the battle begin!
These two very different Tuscan DOCGs have shared a name for almost a century. Today there are various proposals, some conciliating others more uncompromising, to end this territorial and commercial confusion.
Chianti calls for residual sugar, Chianti Classico doesn’t. One allows white grapes in the blend, the other doesn’t. The first can press up to 110 quintals per hectare, the second stops at 70. They both have different reference markets, the mass market and (mainly) HORECA respectively. And while one is characterised by subzones, the other focuses on additional geographic mentions and the Gran Selezione based on vineyard crus.
Let Chianti give up its name!
Chianti and Chianti Classico are becoming more and more different, and yet they have shared a name for almost a century. Today a battle commenced to put an end to this misunderstanding, headed by the winemaker Vittorio Fiore. The aim is to put an end to Chianti using a term linked to a territory “that it doesn’t actually belong to”.
The “original sin” in the fascist era
The misunderstanding has precise historical reasons: in the 1930s, Chianti wine was synonymous with ‘Italian wine’ all over the world. “Owing to the small amount of Chianti wine produced in the Chianti territory (the municipalities of Castellina, Gaiole, Radda and Greve) and the need to generate more income, the Fascist government issued a decree which extended the use of the “Chianti wine” designation to virtually the whole of Tuscany, in particular, to the provinces of Pisa, Arezzo and areas of Siena and Florence that were not included,” explains historian Carlo Baldini. The pretext was to use the name Chianti for almost any wine not from the region of the same name, but made in the style of Chianti.
High risk of imitation
This choice based on wine type and not origin, exposes the brand to the risk of imitation, as Vittorio Fiore underlines. Who could really prevent a Californian Chianti based on the definition of the wine type? In this strategic commercial blitz there were some who pulled out, like Vino Nobile di Montepulciano which didn’t become “Chianti Montepulciano”, and a few years later also Carmignano, who vindicated their origin with pride and transparency.