The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Why Chianti Classico

Posted on | January 13, 2016 | Written by Garrett Kowalsky | No Comments

All signs point to Chianti

One of my favorite styles of wine is Chianti. It’s a versatile wine that can exhibit bright and vibrant fruit, but can also burst onto the palate with deep berries and a silky elegance. Because of these qualities, I often suggest my clients pick up and enjoy Chianti, or even cellar it for a few years before reaping the benefits of their purchase. Getting people to follow my suggestion is not always an easy task, however, and I often hear the silence of apprehension on the other side of the phone or in person.  “But, why?” they ask.

For many wine drinkers, the mere mention of “Chianti” rouses thoughts of straw-covered bottles set upon red-checkered tablecloths. Yes, decades ago many producers in Chianti made wine of less than admirable quality. It was light, without much structure or aging potential, and it was cheap. But this is the past and we live in the now, and times have changed. Over the past twenty years, the region has strived to improve the overall quality of the wines being produced. Through investment in equipment, the estates’ protocol, and improved vineyard management, Chianti’s producers have shown us that this is a region with some very special terroir, and it undoubtedly has the ability to impress the world with their offerings.

Currently, the designations in the region are Chianti, Chianti Classico (both of which refer to geographic location) and Riserva, which refers to the age of the wine. After all of the hard work of the past generation though, the Consorzio del Vino Chianti Classico, the ruling body who sets the standards for Chianti, felt as though they, as a winemaking region, were, as a Decanter article reported, a “pyramid without a top.” To address this, the Consorzio decided to add a fourth designation, one that would sit above Riserva, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione. This designation adds new restrictions such as production per hectare (52.5 hl/ha) and the length of time the wine must be held before release (30 months).  It is also seen as a move that will help distinguish the region and the outstanding wines that it produces in the ever-growing international market.

If you are curious as to what Chianti might work for you, check out the link to IWM’s site or call your portfolio manager. Life is far too short to write off a region based on past mistakes, only to discover their greatness later on. If you have been hesitant to enjoy Chianti in the past, I implore you to dive in. To those fans out there already… you know exactly what I am talking about.

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