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What and Where is Chianti Classico Wine?

 

Chianti Restaurants

 

GRAPPA LINK

 

The late Marco Mucciarelli, based in Castellina-in-Chianti, knew more than most about the Chianti area and its wines.  This photo was taken in the early 2000s during a fascinating tour de force of wine history from the days of the Gods of Wine (Dionisos - Greek; Fufluns - Etruscan; Baccus - Roman), the vineyards of the Castello di Fonterutoli (one of the top Chianti Classico vineyards located just South of Castellina, and the place where in 1555 the Sienese formally signed the peace treaty acknowledging that they had lost out to Florence for good), and a wine and olive oil tasting.  After the session, we strolled through the hamlet of Fonterutoli to the Trattoria to practice our newly honed sensibilities over a long degustation lunch.  Marco is now very sadly no longer with us, but during his life he brought a lot of pleasure to a lot of people.  Thanks Marco.

Chianti Classico is a blended red wine, the blending rules for which were originally laid down in 1874 on his "retirement" by Barone Bettino Ricasoli (1809-1880), Prime Minister of Italy after Cavour during the unification, and owner of Brolio Castle and estate.  The present day Chianti Classico Consortium dates from 1924, and encompasses nearly 7,000 hectares of DOCG vineyards.  The total area that can be planted is fixed, so when you pass a sign like that on the right (well actually they have a new one now but we think this was smarter!), be aware that the land prices have just escalated dramatically! (Location Map)

 

Chianti Classico DOCG wine is made from a blend of two reds and one or two whites - Sangiovese (75-95%), Cannailo (5-10%), Malvasia and/or Trebbiano (2-5%).  The Riserva is made from the better grapes and kept in small French oak barriques for an extra year.  In recent years the rules have been relaxed, and this has encouraged the emergence of "Supertuscans" alongside classicos.  In the (well drunk) opinion of el Paradox, DOCG, Supertuscan is a canny marketing term which is mainly used to justify astronomic prices for cab savs etc., few of which are worth it! 

 

Central Tuscany is the source of the best Sangiovese based wines around, and that's what we have stuck with.

 

And where to buy your Classico stock? - well, for value avoid the vineyards for anything but tasting fun and the odd bottle purchase.  The town bottle shops sometimes have good value specials.  Best of all, our old friend the Poggibonsi Coop has a big stock of Classicos and is often 10 to 30% better priced than elsewhere!  Also be aware that, as everywhere, there is a wide variation in wine quality that does not always correlate to price!

 

Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico Web Site

On the left and below - An Autumn view of Badia in Passignano and the surrounding Antinori Vineyards (their website may still include an interesting recipe section).

 

 

 

Chianti Restaurants

 

Link to Photos of Chianti Classico Vineyards

 

Link to "Around Chianti" Photos"

 

 Link to Castello di Volpaia

 

Badia a Passignano Photos

 

Lamole Photos

 

Right: Map of the Chianti Classico Production Area

 

Link to Road Map of Chianti

 

The Chianti Classico vineyards lie on both sides of the via Chiantigena (SS222) which winds from Florence in the North to Siena in the South through some of the most beautiful countryside (particularly around Panzano - it's well worth taking an East or West detour here along the ridges, and there's a lunch spot at Lamole with one of the world's great views). 

 

If you are doing more than just driving through, go to a news stand and get a copy of "The Black Rooster Roads" - a large scale map showing all the roads, towns and wineries - good for restaurant navigation as well.

 

The trade mark of Chianti Classico is the Gallo Nero or Black Cock - which used to be the emblem of the Chianti League - Castellina, Radda, Giaole - front line garrison towns (for Florence) in the Florence v Siena wars of the early centuries of the second millennium. Their Sienese opposite numbers included Monteriggione and Quercegrossa.

 

 

 

This is the hamlet of Fonterutoli, with the great towers of Siena as a backdrop (Palazzo Pubblico / Campo on the left, Duomo on the right, and just marvel at the quality of the late evening Tuscan light!).  It is owned by the Mazzei family, and in our view its Classico wines are the best on offer - in fact the Fonterutoli Classico is better than most riservas.  You can also rent an appartamento there.

 

 

An Autumn view looking south towards Siena from the sweeping terraces of Brolio Castle, home of Barone Bettino Ricasoli (1809-1880), who succeeded Cavour as Prime Minister of the newly united Italy and, more importantly, laid down and enforced the first blending rules for Chianti Classico.  Before this most attempts at red wine in Italy and elsewhere had been literally undrinkable - red wine is very much a product of the past 150 years!

 

Castel Brolio wines are now owned by the Mazzei family from Fonterutoli, and their Classico is excellent, though not quite up to their home product!

 

And if you want to rent a nearby villa (originally part of the Ricasoli estates) with an excellent reputation (and an Australian landlord), try this link.

 

 

 

This is the hamlet of Volpaia, with the town of Radda-in-Chianti on the ridge in the background.  Many of the hamlet buildings are not what they seem because they contain the components of a modern Chianti winery.  Volpaia has an excellent restaurant and it is also possible to do tours of the winery and olive presses.  The winery is one of a very few to also be licensed to produce vinegar.  Link to Castello di Volpaia page.

 

WHAT ABOUT GRAPPA ??

Nothing is wasted .... at the end of fermentation, the grape skins are pressed to remove the last of the wine, then shovelled into the back of a truck and taken to the Grappa distillery where another alcoholic masterpiece is produced.

 

 

Links to

 

More Chianti Classico Vineyards    and    "Around Chianti"

 

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