Jan 232012
 
Chianti Classico - Gallo Nero

Photo Credit: Tracy Ellen Kamens

If you think you know Chianti Classico, think again. No really. Sure, you know that it no longer comes in the straw-wrapped bottle that ubiquitously served as a candle holder throughout the 1970s. Maybe you also know that it pairs well with a variety of cuisines – not just the kind served at Italian restaurants of the red-checked tablecloth variety. But do you know that Chianti Classico has undergone a further revolution that has vastly improved its quality?

Today’s Chianti Classico wines represent the finest the region has seen. Yes, climate change can account for some of this (as it has in other regions), but more importantly, it is the Consortio’s decades-long investment – a project known as Chianti Classico 2000 – that has made most of the difference.

Sangiovese - Chianti Classico

Photo Credit: Tracy Ellen Kamens

Yes, the name sounds a bit futuristic (or at least it did when it was launched back in 1988), but in reality, the program returned to the roots (literally) of Chianti Classico, a wine that is made up of at least 80% of the Sangiovese grape. With an emphasis on identifying the very best Sangiovese grapes, viticulturists toiled for years planting new vines, producing sample wines and testing the results. By the end, the project found 7 different versions of Sangiovese that yielded the best wines. And, not surprisingly, wineries in the region have used this research to replant many of their vineyards resulting in better wines all around.

Do you need to know which types of Sangiovese? Of course not. All you really need to know is the name Chianti Classico and that these are wines worth drinking.

At a tasting at the Consortio’s new headquarters, housed in a former monastery, the proof was in the glass. Sipping sample after sample from the 2008 vintage, it was a challenge to narrow down the selection to only three wines for a seminar in New York — the wines were that good. Now you know.

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