Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG or ‘Chianti from Siena’s hills’ is a Sangiovese-based red wine denomination from Siena province in central Tuscany. It is the most extensive of the Chianti DOCG zones, covering ‘the hills around Montepulciano, and south of the [Chianti] Classico zone from San Gimignano to Castelnuovo Berardenga,’ (David Gleave, 1989, p.99). It also covers Montalcino. The Colli Senesi was one of Tuscany’s great wine producing zones in the middle of the 19th century, but for most of the 20th-century its wines were sold in bulk to the Florentine merchants. However in 1967 Chianti Colli Senesi was awarded DOC status, in 1977 its consorzio was founded (see contact details, below), and from 1984 it became a DOCG. About 3,458 ha of vineyards are allowed the Colli Senesi DOCG.
The blend: The wine must be made from 75-100% Sangiovese. The rest of the blend can be made from Canaiolo nero, Colorino and Ciliegiolo, plus 0-10% international varieties eg. Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.
Size: The surface of the vineyards involved in the production of Chianti Colli Senesi covers an average of 1400 hectares, located on the slopes of the hills of the Province of Siena, in the ideal heart of rural Tuscany.
Terroir: Average vineyard altitude is about 300 m. above sea level. The nature of the terrain varies according to the areas and, given the vastness of the territory, there are significant pedoclimatic differences that positively influence wines. The Pliocene soil is mainly medium-textured, clayey, sandy, with tuff.
Production zone: The province of Siena is divided into 35 communes (listed here), of which 15 may produce Chianti Colli Senesi. They include all or part of Siena, San Gimignano, Colle Val d’Elsa, Monteriggioni, Montalcino, Pienza, Murlo, Castelnuovo Berardenga and Montepulciano.
The main areas of production extend from the north (San Gimignano with its C13th and C14th towers, the trading centres of Poggibonsi or ‘Poggibinizio in antiquity and Colle Val d’Elsa, and Monteriggioni with its perfect circle of walls, and Castelnuovo Berardenga), via Siena towards the (drier) south west (Murlo, Sovicille, Montalcino) and south east (Sinalunga and Torrita di Siena, the Renaissance jewels of Montepulciano and Pienza, Chianciano, Chiusi with its Etruscan museum, and elegant Cetona).
These three “islands” of production are called locally the “Arcipelago Chianti Colli Senesi”. The Via Francigena–the road taken by medieval pilgrims and today largely coincident with the SS2–links the production districts lying north and south of Siena.
David Gleave says the Chianti Colli Senesi zone “stretches from San Gimignano in the west, past Castelnuovo Berardenga [Chianti Classico] in the east, and engulfing Siena and her hills to the north in the process. It then branches out to the south, with the western arm enveloping the area around Montalcino, and the eastern arm taking in Montepulciano and Sinalunga. Part of what used to be produced as Colli Senesi has been usurped by Rosso di Montepulciano and, to a lesser extent, Rosso di Montalcino. After the verdant Florentine hills, the brown slopes of Siena seem rather barren and tame by comparison,” (Gleave, D: 1991, p.28).
The main production areas extend from the north (San Gimignano, Poggibonsi, Colle Val d’Elsa, Monteriggioni, Castelnuovo Berardenga), passing through Siena, south-west (Murlo, Sovicille, Montalcino) and south-east (Sinalunga, Torrita, Montepulciano, Pienza, Chianciano and Chiusi). Three very important main areas that can therefore be compared to real “islands” of production, which can be grouped into what we call “Archipelago of Chianti Colli Senesi”.
Siena and Val d’Elsa: San Gimignano, Poggibonsi, Colle Val d’Elsa, Monteriggioni, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Siena.
Val di Chiana: Sinalunga, Torrita di Siena, Montepulciano, Chianciano, Chiusi. Near Tuscany’s eastern border with Umbria.
Val di Merse: Sovicille, Murlo. The Ombrone valley and the slopes of the Amiata, a little-known land made up of clear rivers, dense forests and the Cistercian abbey of San Galgano with its mystery of the sword in the stone.
Val d ‘Orcia: Pienza, Montalcino. The Sienese landscape par excellence, gentle hills with cypresses and crossed by an ancient road: the Cassia; which offers such a beauty the look of medieval villages and fortresses.
Wine style: David Gleave MW (1991, p.28) says Chianti Colli Senesi is “potentially one of the best Chianti zones. The hills around Sinalunga and Castelnuovo Berardenga, for instance, with their clay soils and hot summers, are ideally suited to the production of broad, chunky wines of great character…less pointed than the wines from the Colli Fiorentini, more akin to the style found in Montalcino: broad and direct rather than fine and perfumed.”
Wine quality: The best wines come from near Montalcino or Montepulciano (Thomases. D: 6/1996, p.92).
Wine production: In 2002 nearly 500 estates were using the Colli Senesi DOCG and produced 82,000 quintals of wine from 1,719ha of vines (making Colli Senesi the second biggest Chianti sub-region after Chianti Classico it seems).
Certified organic: Alessandro Tofanari (San Gimignano). | Boscarelli (Montepulciano). | Cappella Sant’Andrea (San Gimignano). | Cesani (San Gimignano). | Carpineta Fontalpino (Castelnuovo Berardenga). | Fattoria Le Fonti (Poggibonsi) (Poggibonsi). | Fattoria San Donato (San Gimignano). | Fornacelle di Giusti Marco (San Gimignano). | Il Colombaio di Santa Chiara (San Gimignano). | Le Ragnaie (Montalcino). | Marronaia (San Gimignano). | Pacina (Castelnuovo Berardenga). | Palagetto (San Gimignano). | Panizzi (San Gimignano). | Podere della Bruciata (Montepulciano). | Podere Le Volute (San Gimignano). | Salcheto (Montepulciano). | San Quirico. | Signano (San Gimignano). | Tenute Le Calcinaie (San Gimignano). | Tenuta Valdipiatta (Montepulciano).
No certification: Antico Colle (Montepulciano). | Campriano (Murlo). | Cantine Bonacchi. | Casa alle Vacche (San Gimignano). | Casale Davidii (Montepulciano). | Castelpugna (Siena). | Castello di Farnetella. | Castello Romitorio (Montalcino). | Crociani (Montepulciano). | Fattoria del Cerro (Montepulciano). | Fattoria di Fugnano e Bombereto (San Gimignano). | Fattoria di Pietrafitta (San Gimignano). | Fattoria Svetoni (Montepulciano). | Gattavecchi (Montepulciano). | La Lastra (San Gimignano). | Le Bertille (Montepulciano). | Le Fornaci Azienda Agricola (San Gimignano). | Molino della Suga (Montalcino). | Montalpruno (Poggibonsi). | Nottola (Montepulciano). | Podere Casa al Vento (Montepulciano). | Rubicini (San Gimignano). | Talosa (Montepulciano). | Tenuta Farneta (Sinalunga). | Tenuta La Vigna (San Gimignano). | Tiberini (Montepulciano). | Tollena (San Gimignano). | Villa S Anna (Montepulciano).
Bill Nesto MW & Frances Di Savino, Chianti Classico, the Search for Tuscany’s Noblest Wine, (University of California Press, 2016).
David Gleave, ‘The Wines of Italy‘ (Salamander Books, London, 1989), p.99.
Consorzio Chianti Colli Senesi
C/O CCIAA Piazza Matteotti, 30
I-53100 Siena (SI = Siena), Italy
Tel+39 0577.202584 | Website www.collisenesi.it