The first post I wrote on this blog, last September, profiled the Chianti Classico DOCG, which I described as one of the most well known of all Italian wine regions. For many years, until 1995, the Chianti Classico region was actually just a sub-region in the larger Chianti DOCG. This wine is from that larger Chianti DOCG, which is now a separate region from the Chianti Classico DOCG, though the regions overlap. While the Chianti Classico DOCG covers just the provinces of Florence and Siena (the classic Chianti areas), the Chianti DOCG also extends into the provinces of Arezzo, Pisa, Prato, and Pistoia. As with some other Italian wine regions, the Chianti DOCG has a number of sub-regions, all of which can be displayed on the label but none of which are considered independent growing regions (just as Chianti Classico used to be). Of the six sub-regions, Chianti Rufina and Colli Fiorentini are the most common and have the best reputation. These regions extend to the Northeast from the city of Florence. The other four sub-regions are Colli Senesi, Colli Pisani, Colli Arentini, and Chianti Montalbano.
The Chianti region has been making wine since ancient times. The region, one of the oldest in Italy, was first recognized as a wine-growing region in the middle ages and was officially demarcated in the early 18th century by Cosimo Medici III. However, it wasn’t until the mid 19th century, under the craftsmanship of Baron Bettino Ricasoli (who later became Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy), that the Chianti “recipe” was created: 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, and 15% Malvasia. It became a DOC in 1967 and was “upgraded” to a DOCG in 1984.
Today wine produced in the Chianti DOC can be made from 75 to 90 percent Sangiovese, with the remaining blend containing 5 to 10 percent Canaiolo, 5 to 10 percent Trebbiano or Malvasia and up to 10 Cabernet or other specified black grape varieties. Simply because of the ubiquity of Chianti, it is not the most interesting DOCG to explore – it’s hard to find anyone who has had Italian wine and doesn’t know what Chianti is. And as I discussed with Chianti Classico, the demand for Chianti over the years has led to mass production of the wine, which has resulted in inconsistent and sometimes unreliable quality. However, there is something about a good Chianti that draws me in every time; something that transports me to Italy more than almost any other Italian wine.
This Chianti is produced by Collezione di Paolo, which is run by winemaker Paolo Masi, who recently received good press from Robert Parker, Gambero Rosso (Italy’s top wine guide), and others. It is dark red in color, and has a classic Chianti nose – dark cherry along with other dark red fruits and a bit of oak. It is medium bodied, with smooth, subtle tannins and nice acidity; it has a liveliness to it that makes it seem a bit frizzante. There are notes of ripe cherry, raspberry, and oak on the palate. Overall it is smooth and very juicy.