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HomeWineWine 101: Italian Area Deep Dives: Chianti

Wine 101: Italian Area Deep Dives: Chianti

Wine 101: Italian Region Deep Dives: Chianti

This episode of “Wine 101” options Maze Row Wine Service provider’s esteemed accomplice, Brancaia, a vineyard positioned within the centuries-old wine area of Tuscany, Italy — the topic of our deep dive right this moment. Brancaia has crafted an acclaimed complicated wine that has captured the Tuscan identification in terroir for over 40 years. That is the place wine meets world historical past. We’re speaking Renaissance, structure, medieval cities, historic vines. To attempt Brancaia comply with the hyperlink within the episode description to the place you’ll discover a Chianti Classico and a critically acclaimed Tre Crimson Mix

On this episode of “Wine 101,” VinePair’s tastings director Keith Beavers explains the Chianti wine area. Observe alongside as he dives into the Chianti DOCG and its multitude of sub-appellations. Tune in for extra.

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Keith Beavers: My title is Keith Beavers and what’s actually caught with me these days is — I used to be watching this cat documentary they usually have been saying cats haven’t modified in hundreds of years they usually’re nonetheless wild animals. So we’ve got wild animals in our home? That’s cool.

What’s occurring, wine lovers? From the VinePair Podcast Community, that is “Wine 101.” My title is Keith Beavers. I’m the tastings director of Vine Pair. And the way are you? It’s time to take a deep breath. It’s time to simply let all of it soak in. We’re going to get Chianti down right this moment. You and I. No extra stress. All Chianti, on a regular basis.

Okay. Right here we’re within the calmness of the Chianti episode. Okay. Yeah, no, that’s not working. I’ve had three espressos right this moment. It’s very laborious to be calm. I’m really very excited as a result of that is the Chianti episode. That is the episode the place we’re going to dive deep and provide you with guys the deets of what it’s worthwhile to know to decrease that barrier of entry to one of the crucial well-known wine areas on this planet — and one of the crucial well-known wines we’ve got on our American market. Earlier than we get began, I might counsel… I imply, take heed to this episode, but in addition take heed to the Tuscany episode and likewise the Sangiovese/Chianti episode, as a result of, within the Tuscany episode, I do a pleasant spherical overview of the area. After which within the Sangiovese/Chianti episode, I’m going over Sangiovese’s historical past and slightly bit about Chianti that was inside the context of that episode. And also you’ll discover in these two episodes I don’t go actually detailed into the sub-regions and Chianti Classico and all that, however that’s what we’re going to do right here. Additionally, there is perhaps a couple of issues I don’t cowl on this episode, however don’t fear as a result of the subsequent 10 episodes, together with this episode, are all Italian. And the primary tranche is all Tuscany.

Now we have a whole lot of cool stuff forward of us, however right this moment on this episode, we’re deep into the Chianti hills. One factor to find out about wines from Chianti is that over historical past, this area has modified a number of instances and developed in numerous methods to get to the place we’re right this moment. And a whole lot of that stuff I’ll speak about in future episodes, but in addition you get a few of that within the episodes that I steered to start with of this episode. Whoa.

And even right this moment, really in a yr from now, Chianti goes via yet one more evolution or change, which we’ll get into. Like Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Chianti is a type of huge well-known wine areas that we as People simply know. We all know Chianti so nicely. And Italian meals, or Italian-American meals, is likely one of the hottest cuisines we’ve got in our tradition as People. And along with that, yr over yr over yr, the vast majority of wine being imported into the US is primarily Italian wine, and a whole lot of that Italian wine is from Chianti. And after I say we all know Chianti nicely, it’s culturally. So far as the main points of that wine area, I typically get folks in a dizzy state going, “Look, I don’t perceive. I do know Chianti’s a wine, however that’s all I received.” So let’s simplify this slightly bit and get you enthusiastic about it as a result of it’s an thrilling place for wine proper now. Within the historical past of Chianti, we’re in in all probability the most effective place to get pleasure from these wines.

Okay, let’s get into some Chianti deets right here. If we have been to do a drone shot above the Chianti hills, it could be stunning. But additionally, you’d see the Chianti hills, you’d see an enormous city to the north known as Florence, and then you definitely would see an enormous city to the south known as Sienna. And all of the hills that you simply see surrounding these two cities and going east and west from out and simply throughout, that’s the Chianti DOCG. So for DOC and DOCG stuff, if that’s complicated for you, don’t fear, I’m going to get into a whole lot of that after we speak about tremendous Tuscans arising very quickly.

And as we glance down on these hills, simply know that there are nearly 40,000 acres underneath vine tucked into these hills. And the vast majority of the vines that develop in Chianti are the Sangiovese grape. However there are different native crimson wine grapes rising right here as nicely, with names like Canaiolo, Colorino, and older varieties like Mammolo, and Ciliegiolo. But additionally in these hills — they usually have been for a very long time — you’ll discover Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cab. Franc. Okay. So we’ve got these hills, there’re tons of vines, and these are the varieties that develop in these hills, and should you have been to coach your eye smack dab in the midst of the Chianti hills, you’d see what known as Chianti Classico. It’s the place the place all of it started.

And what’s distinctive, fascinating, and generally complicated is, bear in mind after I mentioned, if you’re that entire space, it’s the Chianti DOCG? Properly, inside the Chianti DOCG, there may be one other DOCG, and that’s that middle area, Chianti Classico. It nearly exists separate from the remainder of Chianti whereas sitting smack dab in the midst of Chianti.

Okay, so we see these two cities, one to the north, one to the south, after which we’ve got, smack dab within the center, a DOCG in the midst of this bigger DOCG. So surrounding the Chianti Classico area proper there within the center are seven separate communes, or subzones, or sub-appellations of the Chianti DOCG area. Okay, now whether or not it’s the overall Chianti DOCG, Chianti DOCG with one of many seven communes or subzones appended to the label, or the Chianti Classico area DOCG separate from every thing else, it doesn’t matter what, the first selection goes to be Sangiovese. As a result of the best way it really works out in Chianti basically… It modifications, however basically, 70 p.c of any mix within the Chianti hills must be Sangiovese. In Sienna it’s 75, in Chianti Classico it’s 80, and I feel it goes as much as 90 as nicely for some tiers. However we don’t should get into the trivialities of that. Simply know that Sangiovese guidelines the day right here within the largest a part of a mix, irrespective of the place you’re. And enjoyable truth: Lately, you’re going to see extra 100% Sangiovese than ever earlier than. That’s why it is a actually nice time in Chianti.

There was a time in Chianti once they tried to form of internationalize the wine — that’s in all probability not even a phrase — however they put a whole lot of oak on wine to form of get it slightly extra into the American palate. However during the last 10, 15 years has been a transfer in the direction of extra high- acid, extra fruit-forward, expressive wines. And that’s why I feel it’s a extremely enjoyable time for Chianti proper now.

However different varieties like Canaiolo, Colorino, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, can be blended into Chianti. However once more, it’s not as typically that they’re doing the French varieties anymore. They’re attempting to go extra in the direction of holding it as native selection as attainable, however it modifications dramatically from place to position. So we’ve got the middle Classico area and all these surrounding seven subzones. And one factor to find out about these subzones is, the vast majority of them, nicely a whole lot of them hug the Chianti Classico space, however one thing to find out about these is almost all of them are for weeknight wine. I imply, superb, extraordinarily food-pairing-friendly wines which might be finest consumed of their youth.

Chianti — scorching take right here — Chianti doesn’t actually age. It’s not one of many age-worthy wines that we’ve got on this planet. Sure, they do age between 5 and 10 years, generally 15. We’re form of pushing it after that. However Classico is the place the vast majority of the age-worthy stuff is. Exterior of Chianti Classico, in these seven subzones, we’re encountering very cool, contemporary fruit-forward wines. There are exceptions, there’s all the time exceptions, however these are very normal phrases. That is why it’s actually enjoyable to go on the market and check out all these Chiantis.

Okay. Let’s get to the seven subzones. Okay. I’m going to do this out. If Florence is 12 o’clock and Sienna is 6 and we’re going clockwise, these are the seven sub-appellations of the Chianti DOCG: Chianti Rufina, Chianti Colli Aretini, Chianti Colli Senesi, Chianti Montespertoli, Chianti Colline Pisane, Chianti Montalbano, after which Chianti Colli Fiorentini. That final one is simply south of Florence, so form of cancels… It goes proper to the midday hour. Does that make sense?

So like I mentioned, the vast majority of these are going to be gentle, simple consuming… I imply, not gentle, however form of medium-bodied with the cherry notes and the cranberries and all the attractive issues that tangy Chianti brings us. However there are a couple of of them like Chianti Rufina, which is north of Florence. It’s in a really excessive elevation, and sometimes that space, these wines age slightly bit. Additionally, in Sienna, the Colli Senesi all the best way down the… Colli Senesi’s the hills of Siena and that’s the place the vineyards are. And since it’s probably the most southern area, a subzone of Chianti, the wines are slightly extra plush. However a lot of the different ones are good, fruity. Like Colli Pisane is definitely nearly a satellite tv for pc area additional in the direction of the coast, really. After which you might have the Colli Fiorentini simply south of Florence that was historically simply to make wine for Florence as a result of it’s such an enormous metropolis.

And although there are normal ageing necessities in Chianti, every subzone, not all of them, however a few of them, have their very own particular methods of ageing. And that’s not as essential as the truth that they age the wines considerably. A yr generally, six months, eight months right here. However they launch them on the time at which they imagine of their subzone that wines, on common, ought to be launched. So by the point it will get to you, it’s proper the place it must be. And in addition, should you see a bottle of wine in a wine store, it simply says Chianti DOCG and nothing else, which signifies that the grapes for that wine might be sourced from any of the seven subzones. But when it says Chianti, after which it has the title of a commune, you realize it’s coming from a particular, terroir-specific place.

And talking of terroir-specific locations, we’ve got to speak concerning the different DOCG hand around in Chianti, the Chianti Classico area the place all of it started. Okay. So the factor about Chianti is the utmost elevation in Chianti is 2,300 ft above sea degree. That’s greater than the best area. Rufina goes as much as, I feel, 1,600 ft. So we’ve got these very mountainous hills, and that is the place, like I mentioned, the place all of it started. And the Chianti Classico area, proper now, like I mentioned, issues are going to vary quickly, however proper now consists of 9 communes. However that is the factor, you’re not going to see these communes prominently displayed on the wine label. They are going to be someplace, however they received’t be prominently displayed. So, I can record them. I’ve been struggling to determine whether or not I ought to record them or not, however I feel I’m going to record them simply to have them on file for the transcript so that you guys can learn it. However in terms of having fun with it, I’ve different ideas.

So listed below are the 9 communes of Chianti Classico: Greve, San Casciano, Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Barberino Val d’Elsa, Castellina, Poggibonsi, Radda, Gaiole, and Castelnuovo Berardenga. You’ll discover inside which might be the three originals from earlier episodes. However the factor is, you’re not going to see these within the label. So the factor about Chianti is, it’s enjoyable to concentrate to the completely different subzones that you simply’re shopping for and inside Classico and stuff like that. It’s a whole lot of enjoyable. And should you stick into one subzone for some time, you’ll get a way of some terroir and kinds. However Chianti modifications so typically and winemakers aren’t a monolith, they’re all completely different. So each subzone has typically a Sangiovese-base wine, however it might be completely different primarily based on the varieties that they select to mix with it, whether or not it’s one hundred percent Sangiovese. Possibly it’s in oak, perhaps it’s raised in chrome steel. There’s so many alternative methods Chianti can come at you. So it’s extra enjoyable to simply undergo the subzones and check out them. And should you’re going into the Chianti Classico factor, it’s the identical factor.

There are literally, and I’ve crossreferenced this with Jedi wine grasp Jancis Robinson, however from what I perceive, there are about 50 varieties you need to use to mix in Chianti Classico. That’s lunatic as a result of the vast majority of the wines popping out of Chianti Classico are one hundred percent Sangiovese. Lately they’ll mix worldwide varieties and there are greater than they might different nationwide varieties as a result of it’s Chianti Classico they usually age longer, however that’s loopy. However one factor in Chianti Classico you’ll encounter is the tiers of “high quality” in that area. And it’s altering, however I’ve to inform you about it from time to time I have to inform you about what might occur sooner or later so that you simply have the knowledge. It doesn’t actually matter a lot as a result of that is all form of inside. Chianti Classico, attempting to outline themselves.

For a very long time, Chianti Classico was attempting to create what could be known as a cru system that’s conversant in Burgundy, however the folks of Chianti Classico rejected that and as a substitute created this factor known as gran selezione. And what that’s, they created a 3rd tier of high quality in Chianti Classico. So you might have Chianti Classico Rosso that must be aged for one yr. Then you might have Chianti Classico Riserva, that must be aged 24 months with three months in bottle. Now I don’t all the time like to enter ageing necessities since you’re going to get a bottle when it’s prepared on the American market. Or if it’s been aged the place we are able to speak about vintages, however the purpose I’m saying it’s because the gran selezione was, when it was introduced on board, I feel it was 2012 when it was introduced on board, what it mentioned was if you wish to have a gran selezione tier in your wine label, you must have all varieties harvested in your property, out of your property. Nothing from different vineyards that you simply might need contracts with, and the ageing requirement is 30 months as a substitute of 24 months with three months in bottle. And I’m solely bringing that up as a result of it’s a brand new factor and the ageing necessities are a part of the brand new factor. However proper now in Chianti Classico, they’re creating what’s known as the UGAs. Unità Geografiche Aggiuntive, which suggests the official extra geographic unit.

So they’re transferring nearer to this cru system in Classico the place they’ve authorized 11 communes that will be particular terroir-driven spots, and 7 of them are a few of the unique stuff that I discussed earlier than. I do know that is very complicated. And to make it much more complicated, this UGA factor proper now solely applies to gran selezione. Nothing else. None of that is as essential as going to your wine store, understanding the subzones, the seven of them, understanding what Chianti Classico is, in that it ages extra and it’s the unique, and to have enjoyable, prepare dinner meals, drink Chianti. It’s an absolute pleasure of a wine to eat and you’ve got all of these subzones and two DOCGs to play with. That’s superior. And that’s Chianti.

I hope this overview helped you. I attempt to break it down piece by piece. In case you have any questions, simply hit me up on Insta. DM me @VinePairKeith. Let’s speak subsequent week about Tuscany. There’s extra Tuscany.

@VinePairKeith is my Insta. Fee and overview this podcast wherever you get your podcasts from. It actually helps get the phrase on the market.

And now, for some completely superior credit. “Wine 101” was produced, recorded, and edited by yours really, Keith Beavers, on the VinePair headquarters in New York Metropolis. I need to give an enormous ol’ shout-out to co-founders Adam Teeter and Josh Malin for creating VinePair. Large shout-out to Danielle Grinberg, the artwork director of VinePair, for creating probably the most superior brand for this podcast. Additionally, Darbi Cicci for the theme music. Take heed to this. And I need to thank the complete VinePair workers for serving to me be taught one thing new daily. See you subsequent week.

Ed. notice: This episode has been edited for size and readability.


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