Wine Information

...your source for everything wine!

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home Wine Regions Italian Wine Regions - Chianti

Italian Wine Regions - Chianti

Chianti literally means wine to the people in the region. Chianti is located in the midst of the rich grape growing areas of Florence and Sienna. Chianti is a hilly area that overlooks the Elsa Valley. There are also plenty of olives grown in Chianti, but this article is about the great wines that come from the Chianti wine region.

Wine making in this region dates back to the Phoenicians. It wasn't long before Chianti was known as the land of wine. Grape growers from as far away as Greece and Rome came to settle here to grow the finest wine grapes. It was not long until this part of Italy was renowned for its bountiful harvests and high quality vintages.

However, more than 225 years ago the quality of the grapes and wines from Chianti began to decline. This was in large part due the the phylloxera pest that was destroying the grapevine leaves and roots. A long battle ensued between phylloxera and Chianti's growers. Eventually, the locals overcame this best with resistant strains of local grapevine varieties and improved growing methods.

But it took nearly 200 years for the reputation of the Chianti wines to re-emerge. Only a half century ago, just about any poor farmer could afford a plot to grow vines in Chianti. Nowadays, the land has regained its reputation to the extent that land is a premium here.

This rich growing region consists of fine soils and consistent weather patterns. The soils provide plenty of aeration and drainage. Irrigation is seldom required, as the roots of the vines can dig deep into the ground and find water and nutrients.

Chianti's red wines have again gained acclaim around the world as fine European wines. Classico is a classic example of this. Chianti Classico is produced by more than 2/3 of the 24,700 acres here, using 80% or more Sangiovese. Often the other ingredients are Canaiolo and Colorino.

In order to keep the production quality high in the region, the law requires that no more than nine tons of grapes be produced per hectare of growing area in the Chianti wine region. However, the processes used for making the wine can vary quite a bit. Some wines are aged in oak and others may not be. Riserva wines typically are 12% alcohol and come from oak aging.

The typical Chianti red is a deep color like the pomegranate. However, the flavor is a tannic dry. It has a strong aroma that you either do or don't like. It is consistent with the increased quality of the region.