Learn how to separate the best Chianti wine from good Chianti wine

Good Chianti wine captures the essence of the terrific terroir and the very best Chianti wine is among the best in Italy.

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Indeed, top Chianti wines, which most often come from Chianti Classico DOCG, which itself can be wonderfully varied and expressive, can be among the best red wines on the planet.

Our team of local experts will take you directly to the vineyard source of the best Chianti wine, to the heart of Chianti Classico to walk through the vineyards. They are set in charmingly green and undulating countryside with their galestro (shaly clay) and limestone alberese soils, which typically lie between 200 and 400 metres above sea level. You will discover that no two vineyards are the same when you dig deep into this special terroir to discover the subtle, yet sublime, differences between the various places of growth. There’s nothing like seeing where the grapes grow and gaining an understanding of the true terroir and the factors that shape the taste of the wine.

You will then be led into the cellar to see how the winemaker can influence the outcome. Most of the best wines are aged in French oak barriques, which impart more elegance on the wine than the traditional practice of ageing it in the large Slavonian oak botti. You will see how they craft the wine by often blending in other grapes, on top of the minimum 80% requirement of Sangiovese in Chianti Classico DOCG, to put their own personal stamp on the wine. Some of the best Chianti wine contains a good dollop of Cabernet Sauvignon which brings more body and weight to the final blend, as well as juicy black fruit. You will then taste the wines from the different parts of Chianti Classico in tutored tastings where you learning will be made complete.

Some of the top Chianti wines come from the Panzano area, with its vineyards of pure limestone mixed in with the shaly clay, combining the best of both worlds. Panzano actually belongs to Greve, whose wines from clay soils are overall less intense. The land around the village of Greve, along with that around the villages of Radda, Gaiole and Castellina, were  legally delimited, on September 24, 1716, when Cosimo III de’ Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, singled them out as Chianti’s prime winemaking hotspots. This makes Chianti Classico the oldest official wine region in Italy, and quite possibly the world. The best Chianti wine for some is from Gaiole as they like its intensity and grip, while others favour the more elegant and pungently aromatic styles of Radda and Castellina.

Widening the search

Chianti Classico was expanded in the 1930s. Among the newer area, Castelnuovo Berardenga, which became part of Chianti Classico in 1932, is Chianti Classico’s southernmost point and its wines are prized for their concentration, structure and longevity.

Chianti DOCG has a total of eight subzones that produce something of a mixed bag in terms of quality. Chianti Rufina, which is situated on high ground to the north east of Florence, is considered perhaps the finest Chianti DOCG outside the Chianti Classico DOCG heartland. It also has a history of appreciation and was singled out for a special mention from the very same Cosimo III de’ Medici in 1716. Rufina actually possesses similar soils to Panzano. Despite the more northerly location, Rufina’s vines get excellent sun exposure and ripen beautifully and can be quite full bodied but the high diurnal temperature range maintains the superb acidity.

The more humble, entry-level Chianti DOC category does, however, produce some popular Chianti wines. The use of modern technology has ironed out a lot of the faults that long blighted this category, with some of better ones making for delicious easy-drinking, fruit-forward blends, usually from higher yields of fruit from several sub-zones.

 

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