Chianti DOCG is a red wine denomination in Tuscany, Italy, whose production zone and production rules are different from that of the Chianti Classico DOCG. The DOCG encompasses six geographical areas with their own sub-DOCGS, namely Chianti Colli Aretini DOCG, Chianti Colli Fiorentini DOCG, Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG, Chianti Colline Pisane DOCG, Chianti Montalbano DOCG, Chianti Montespertoli DOCG, and Chianti Rufinà DOCG. All have their own Riserva categories, plus there is a single Chianti DOCG Superiore category. This means that the Chianti DOC, which dates from 1967, has 15 different iterations.
Size | Burton Anderson (1980) says Chianti ‘is the largest DOC [as then was, now DOCG] district in Italy, both in territory and production. Its more than one million acres [404,858ha] stretch halfway across the peninsula from Pisa to Arezzo and from north of Florence half the distance south to Rome.’ It covers vineyards in the provinces of Pisa, Pistoia, Florence, Arezzo and Siena. It completely encircles the Chianti Classico DOCG area (Anderson, 1980, p235).
The name | ‘Chianti’ has been cited in literature since 1260 (Anderson, 1980, p229). Part of the area between Florence and Siena may have been called ‘Clanti’ as early as the 8th-century (Anderson, 1980, p229, citing Il Magnifico Chianti by Lamberto Paronetto). One popular derivation of the name Chianti is from ‘clanger’, a Latin term for a trumpet’s blare as in a baronial hunt (Anderson, 1980, p229, citing Il Magnifico Chianti by Lamberto Paronetto).
A seemingly more likely origin for the Chianti name came from the Etruscans, whose term for the water they found in abundance in the Chianti mountains was ‘Clante’.
Lega del Chianti | The word Chianti was mentioned for the first time in a document in th 13th century when the area’s feudal barons formed the Lega del Chianti or ‘Chianti League’ to protect their interests, one of which was wine, in an area around Radda, Gaiole and Castellina which is now in Siena province and covers around 40% of what is now the Chianti Classico DOCG (Anderson, 1980, p229). The document certified the birth of the Chianti League and its coat of arms, identifying a specific territory for the first time, and regulating relations between the three main wine-growing protagonists, Radda, Gaiole and Castellina.
Early wine | Early references to Chianti wine were more often to white than red (Anderson, 1980, p229). In the late Middle Ages reference is made to ‘Vermiglio’ from Florence or ‘Florence Red’ when being shipped to London, as early as the 13th-century (Anderson, 1980, p229).
The original blend | This was devised by Baron Bettino Ricasoli of Castello di Brolio in the mid-19th century and was based on Sangiovese and white grapes.
The Chianti Flask | The flask shaped bottled or ‘fiasco’ which became synonymous for Chianti had existed for 600 years before it came to make a mark on international markets from around 1860, after glass containers were perfected to allow cork sealing (Anderson, 1980, p230). David Gleave MW (1989, p98) points out that as the fiasco was unsuited for laying down it favoured wines meant to be drunk young, whereas wines in high-shouldered bottles were suited to wines for ageing as they could be laid down.
Rivals to Chianti & Fraud | As transportation improved Chianti’s success encouraged imitation. Chianti Classico producers formed their own rules-based consortium in 1924 whose symbol is the Gallo Nero or black rooster. In the long-term this inspired the model for the DOC (and subsequent DOCG) legislation of 1963. In the short-term the rival Chianti Putto (a putto is a baby Bacchus, in this case entwined in a vine) formed its consortium for what is now Chianti DOCG in 1927 (Anderson, 1980, p230). Growing zones for each were defined in law in 1932 (Anderson, 1980, p230). Ultimately the rivals reached an agreement (historic compromise or ‘compromesso storico’) which led to both gaining DOCG status.
Wine style | The Chianti DOCG Consorzio describes the wine as ‘ruby red colour, which tends towards garnet with aging. It has a harmonious, dry, sapid, slightly tannic flavor, with an intense, vinous aroma, as well as hints of violet.’
Certified organic | Buccia Nera (Arezzo). | Fattoria Lavacchio (Pontassieve). | La Querce Seconda (San Casciano in Val di Pesa). | Marcialla (Barberino Val d’Elsa). | Poderi Arcangelo (San Gimignano).
No certification | Badia di Morrona (Terricciola). | Cantine Guidi (San Gimignano). | Castello di Monastero (Castelnuovo Berardenga). | La Ciarliana (Montepulciano). | Fattorie Marchesi Torrigiani (Barberino Val d’Elsa). | Vecchia Cantina di Montepulciano (Montepulciano).
Bill Nesto MW & Frances Di Savino, Chianti Classico, the Search for Tuscany’s Noblest Wine, (University of California Press, 2016).
Burton Anderson, Vino – The Wines and Winemakers of Italy (London, 1982), p329.