Chianti Classico

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Chianti Classico, the heartland of the chianti zone, was given its fundamental geographical delimitation by the Medici Grand Duke Cosimo III in an edict of 1716, one of the first examples of such legislation, and was defined as the townships of Radda, Gaiole, and Castellina in addition to the township of Greve (including Panzano).

In 1924 the ‘Consortium for the defence of Chianti wine and its symbol of origin’ was founded to fight the cheap imitations seeking to take advantage of the growing international demand for Chianti Classico. At the request of the Consorzio in 1932 a government committee, known as the Commissione Dalmasso, was sent to the region to demarcate the original, classico zone but, much to the frustration of the Consorzio, the commission enlarged the zone with six additional subzones. The new enlarged region was what is now more or less Chianti proper, defended by the commission on the basis of presumed common oenological practices rather than suitability or historical evidence. To integrate such a large and diverse area, the production regulations set up by the Dalmasso commission were decidedly flexible, requiring only 50 to 80% of the region’s most important red variety, sangiovese. They also allowed white malvasia and trebbiano grapes in the blend, the latter two believed to have been traditionally interplanted with red wine varieties in the Chianti vineyards.