Posts tagged ‘castello di poppiano’

The Districts of Chianti

Every wine lover knows Chianti, even if they don’t know exactly where this wine originates. In this post, I’d like to discuss the various districts of the Chianti zone in Tuscany.

Chianti Classico, the heart of the Chianti zone, between the cities of Florence and Siena, is the most famous of all Chianti districts. I will talk about the wines from here in a future post, but for today, I will be writing about the seven Chianti districts that have been unified under the Chianti Consorzio, all with similar laws on production of the wines.

The seven districts are as follows:

Chianti Colli Fiorentini

Chinati Colli Senesi

Chianti Colline Pisani

Chianti Colli Aretini

Chianti Rufina

Chianti Montalbano

Chianti Montespertoli

The districts are all named for a city or for a geographical area; thus Chanti Colli Fiorentini is the Chianti district in the hills of Florence, Chianti Colli Senesi refers to the hills of Siena and so forth. In each district, Chianti is made from a minimum of 75% Sangiovese, although current regulations do allow for a 100% Sangiovese in each district. Blended wines often contain other local red varieties, such as Colorino or Mammolo, but international varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are allowed as part of the blend of these Chianti wines, as long as they do not exceeed 10% of the blend. Since 1967, all Chiantis made here that adhere to the regulations, may be labed as DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata).

Some of these districts are home to dozens of excellent producers (such as Chianti Classico Fiorentini and Senese), while others are rather small (Montespertoli and Pisane). In fact, it is becoming more difficult to find a Chianit Colline Pisane these days, as producers there are making more bottlings of proprietary wines than their regular bottlings of Chianti. The same holds true in Chianti Montalbano, as this is the area in which Carmignano, a DOCG Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon blend is produced. In each district though, producers can make a range of wines, from a simple Chianti to a Riserva; many also opt to make an IGT blend (known by many as Super Tuscans), made from local and/or international varieties.

The wines from these seven districts as a rule tend to be lighter than those from Chianti Classico, so they are easy drinking and quite approachable upon release. However, there are some excellent producers throughout these districts that craft some very special wines, ones that can age from 5-10 years. Among the most accomplished producers here, I would include Selvapiana and Frescobaldi (Chianti Rufina); Castelvecchio, Castello di Poppiano and San Michele a Torri (Chianti Colli Fiorentini); and Fattoria Sannino (Chianti Montespertoli).

Ferdinando Guicciardini, Castello di Poppiano (Photo ©Tom Hyland)

Here are lists of some of the other leading producers in these districts:

Chianti Colli Fiorentini: Lanciola (this estate also produces Chianti Classico), Fattoria la Colombaia, Le Querce

Chianti Colli Senesi: Castello di Farnetella, Tenuta di Trecciano, Le Bertille, Villa Sant Anna

Chianti Montalbano:  Tenuta di Cappezzana, Ambra

Chianti Montespertoli: Fattoria Poggio Capponi, Tenuta Trecento, Tenuta Cortina e Mandorli

Chianti Colli Pisane: Badia di Morrona, Tenuta di Ghizzano

Chianti Rufina: Travagnoli, Villa di Vetrice, Renzo Masi

Chianti Colli Aretini: Mannucci Droandi, Villa a Sesta, Ruspante

One final note: Many of these producers also make the wonderful dessert wine, Vin Santo (“the wine of the saints” or “the holy wine”). This is generally made from the white varieties Trebbiano and Malvasia, which after harvest are laid on mats in a temperature controlled room to dry. After a few months, the grapes have shriveled, almost to the size of raisins and are then fermented in very small barrels called caratelli. The wine is then left to age in the caratelli for five years before being bottled. The resulting wine is amber gold in color with moderate sweetness and aromas and flavors of almond, dried honey, marzipan, butterscotch and sherry notes. This is a wine that is difficult and costly to produce and only the best versions still show a freshness upon release. Among all the producers in these Chianti districts, my favorite Vin Santo is made at Selvapiana.


October 5, 2010 at 2:14 pm 2 comments

Great Reds of Toscana – Chianti

 

Vineyard in Panzano in the Chianti Classico zone (Photo ©Tom Hyland)

Vineyard in Panzano in the Chianti Classico zone (Photo ©Tom Hyland)

Everyone loves Tuscany it seems, so it follows that everyone loves Chianti. It is arguably the most-loved red wine in the world, if you think about it. Bordeaux  and Burgundy may be more famous and regal, but the price of many examples of those wines keep them from being appreciated by so many people. Thus Chianti, historically a moderately priced wine, is seen in many more markets across the globe, giving more consumers the chance to embace this lovely Tuscan red.

 

The name Chianti has been around since the year 1100, when it was first used to describe a wide area in Tuscany’s central zone. The Etruscans who began viticulture along the region’s west coast, soon spread their efforts north and east, planting Sangiovese near the town of Siena, Pisa and Arezzo. It was in 1085 that the Ricasoli family began to produce wine at Castello di Brolio in Gaiole, one of Tuscany’s most famous estates.

Given the success of Chianti wine, farmers outside the center of Tuscany, wanting to cash in on the popularity of this name, started to produce Chianti throughout the region. Eventually the heart of the Chianti territory- the hills between Florence to the north and Siena to the south – became known as Chianti Classico, and today there are seven sub-zones that use the name Chianti with a geographical suffix, such as Chianti Colli Fiorentini (“the hills of Florence”) and Chianti Colli Senesi (“the hills of Siena). 

The DOCG regulations are slightly different for Chianti Classico as compared with the other Chianti zones; basically the minimum amount of Sangiovese in Chianti Classico is 80%, as compared with 75% for the other zones. In the past, only local varieties, such as Canaiolo or Mammolo for red or Trebbiano or Malvasia for white were allowed in a Chianti blend, but the regulations were changed in the 1980s. Several producers, most notably Antinori and Le Pergole Torte, started to add Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon to the blend, leaving out traditional varieites. At first, these wines such as Tignanello, had to be called vino da tavola (table wines), as they did not conform to the Chianti regulations. But with the success of these wines and the more common use of international variteties from other area producers, the laws were changed. White varieties were banned from the Chianti blend a few years ago and today, Chianti can be made with small amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvgnon, Syrah or other varieties; it can also be 100% Sangiovese. (A Riserva bottling of Chianti must be aged longer than a normale bottling; in the case of Chianti Classico Riserva, the wine must be aged for a minimum period of two years and three months in wood.)

Top estates of Chianti today include:

CHIANTI CLASSICO

  • Castello di Brolio (Barone Ricasoli)
  • Castello di Cacchiano
  • Castello di Bossi
  • Badia a Coltibuono
  • Castello di Volpaia
  • Castello Monsanto
  • Castellare di Castellina
  • San Felice
  • Felsina
  • Fontodi
  • Bibbiano
  • Le Miccine
  • Rocca di Montegrossi
  • Ruffino

CHIANTI COLLI FIORENTINI

  • Castello di Poppiano
  • Castelvecchio
  • Lanciola

CHIANTI RUFINA

  • Frescobaldi
  • Selvapiana
  • San Michele a Torri

 

Alessandro Cellai, winemaker at Castellare di Castellina, Chianti Classico (Photo©Tom Hyland)

Alessandro Cellai, winemaker at Castellare di Castellina, Chianti Classico (Photo©Tom Hyland)

 

 

 

TODAY’S WINES

Chianti was traditionally a rustic red; while that adjective can cover a lot of flaws, rustic really was an apt decriptor for old-style Chiantis. Made from Sangiovese, which is high in acidity with moderate tannins, these wines were aged in large casks, giving them a cedary quality. Usually displaying notes of brown herbs, dried cherry and tomato as the wines aged, these were simple, charming wines meant for food; even today, the traditional style of Chianti (such as the excellent wines from Badia a Coltibuono) works beautifully with any number of foods such as veal, pork or pastas with tomato-based sauces.

However, modern methods both in the vineyards and in the cellar have changed the style of many Chiantis (as of course have the blending laws). The wines today are deeper on color, while many are oakier, especially the ones aged in French barriques. 

Perhaps the biggest difference between today’s Chiantis and the older botlings is the fact that today, yields are much lower. Left to its own, Sangiovese can be uncontrollable, often getting 12 tons to the acre. This means a lot of wine, but wine that is thin and too acidic. Yields are often cut to 4-5 tons per acre these days (sometimes lower) and the wines are much fuller and riper with excellent Sangiovese fruit character.

While the style of wines can be argued, there is no question that today’s Chiantis are better quality offerings. Here are thoughts on this subject from Francesco Ricasoli, owner of Castello di Brolio; “The wines of today are without discussion much better wines from the ones of the past. Chianti Classico today is tracking its way for the future with innovation but still keeping its roots with Sangiovese and preserving its own style that makes it unique worldwide. It cannot be “duplicated” elsewhere in the world.”

Whatever your preference for Chianti – traditional style versus modern style – the best bottlings do present the charm of Sangiovese, with its lively acidity and fresh red cherry fruit in a nicely balanced wine that everyone loves.

June 22, 2009 at 5:58 pm 1 comment


tom hyland

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