Canaiolo Nero is a red wine grape native to Italy. In 16th-century Chianti it was widely used but lost its protagonist status to Sangiovese to leave it as valued bit part.

Origin: Canaiolo Nero is not related to Canaiolo Bianco (aka Drupeggio). The various Canaiolo Nero vines in Umbria are unrelated, being members of the Colorino group.

Other names: Merla (Tuscany).

Biotypes: Cannaiola (sic), native to northwestern Lazio.

History: As Maurizio Castelli (Enogea) says, Canaiolo Nero was ‘once both widely grown and well regarded in the Chianti territory. It was historically almost exclusively trained up trees, because post-phylloxera it grafted poorly onto American rootstocks, and usually gives reds with good structure, a strong spicy character and good temperament. Canaiolo Nero’s aforementioned poor adaptation to American rootstocks saw a decline in its popularity, exacerbated by a lack of healthy vine material for grafting, and its thin skin.’ Ian D’Agata (2014, p.223) says only Malvasia Nera di Brindisi comes close to Canaiolo Nero as a blending partner (5-10%) for Sangiovese in Tuscany.

Wines: Tuscany: Carmignano DOCG. | Chianti DOCG. | Chianti Classico DOCG. | Colli dell’Etruria Centrale DOC. | Montecarlo DOC. | Rosso di Montepulciano DOC. | Valdarno di Sopra DOC Canaiolo Nero. | Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG.

WineriesVallone di Cecione (Chianti Classico DOCG). | Villa Vallacchio (Chianti Classico DOCG).


Bill Nesto MW & Frances Di Savino, Chianti Classico, the Search for Tuscany’s Noblest Wine, (University of California Press, 2016).

Ian D’Agata, Native wine grapes of Italy (University of California Press, 2014), p.223.

Maurizio Castelli, Enogea, ‘Maurizio Castelli, il sangiovese e il Chianti Classico. Intevista vintage,’ interview 21 January 2014 by Francesco Falcone for Enogea (