The enchanting Chianti Hills is an area in Tuscany, a world famously known for its exquisite wine, from which it takes its name.
This mountainous area stretches through 7 sub-zones between Florence and Siena provinces and even though wine has been produced in this area since the Etruscan populated this region, and known as Chianti since the 13th Century.
Chianti wine holds an important role in history, it goes back all the way to the Etruscans, according to some vases from the VI Century BC found in Castellina in Chianti, vine plants were brought to this territory by this civilization. It is known that wine was produced in many areas of the Tuscan region. This type of wine was not yet known as Chianti, as we do today.
Wine production and its continuing evolution carried on after the Etruscans and throughout the Roman empire period. After the fall of the Roman period, Benedictine monks and, other religious groups continued their production in convents and monasteries. It was thanks to them that wine production was improved and diffused in other territories and areas. It was during XI Century AC that wine vines began being planted in rows, as we know them today, improving its growth and production.
It was during the middle ages that vineyards in the Chianti area continued to grow in production and commerce, in fact, some wine production families, still present up to this day, began their production during this period. Around 1288, the Arte dei Vinattieri was founded in Florence. This was part of the Arti Minori, an association that protected and diffused different types of art, such as wine production intended for commercial purposes. Around the same period, taverns and wine cellars were opening. This contributed to the diffusion of wine consumption, this time not only available to nobles and merchants but also to commoners, at times even considered as an elixir to cure health problems. Wine became an inspiration for artists and poets. It is known that Michelangelo acquired and managed estates to produce wine. It was in one of Michelangelo’s estates in the Chianti area that Niccolò Macchiavelli sought refuge after having political troubles. It was here that he wrote his famous work The Prince.
Winemaking continued to evolve, and in the 1400s after Chianti wine reached an excellent quality, concerns to protect and guard its production was raised. Some laws were issued in which penalties were imposed on those who counterfeited Chianti wine. It was until 1716 that the Grand Duke Cosimo III issued an edict for official regulations that controlled Chianti’s name, production, and sales. Furthermore, specific boundaries were established to delimit the Chianti area.
Galileo Galilei, the celebrated and tormented astronomer, spent long periods of time in his Castellina in Chianti estate. He wrote about wine: “Wine is the land’s blood…it is a liquor of high art, made with temper and light, by virtue of which ingenuity becomes illustrious and clear, the soul expands, the spirits are comforted and the joy is multiplied. “
In 1874 the Chianti blend was defined, which inspired the 1984 specification and regulation, over a century later. At that time, Chianti was made up of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, Trebbiano and Malvasia and the remaining 5% from other grape varieties (Mammolo, Colorino). Composition that earned Chianti the first gold medal at the international exhibition in Paris.
On May 14, 1924, 33 producers from the Chianti area founded the Chianti Consortium, using the famous Black Rooster on a gold field as a symbol, which is still Chianti’s symbol up to this day.
Currently, Chianti Wine is produced of Sangiovese grapes in its majority. Due to this region’s soil composition, it has a characteristic floral scent and dry and deeply savory flavor. Other types of grapes that can be part of a Chianti wine are Cabernet, Syrah, Merlot, and Trebbiano.
As you might know, there are different types of Chianti classifications: Standard Chianti (70% Sangiovese grapes and aged for at least 3 months) Chianti Classico (80% of Sangiovese grapes and aged for at least 10 months), and Chianti Superiore (produced with grapes coming from a single vineyard or from a selection of the best company grapes).