Chianti and Chianti Classico. Are they the same?

chianti.jpgNot by a long chalk. Although they may be from the same region, Chianti and Chianti Classico are two completely different Italian wines, as different, for instance, as Bordeaux wines are from Saint Emilion or Pomerol wines, notes Sandro Caramelli of Fattoria La Ripa.

Chianti Classico is produced in a very limited area between Florence and Siena, whereas Chianti is produced practically in the whole of Tuscany with many totally different terroirs. There is a difference in price too. For consumers who are not aware of the differences between the two wines, that difference in price may appear surprising. Caramelli, a producer of Chianti Classico, explains the difference.
Chianti and Chianti Classico are different in the following ways:
The total production of Chianti Classico is about 300.000 hl per year, of which about 90% is bottled and 70% of the bottles are exported out of Italy, while that of Chianti is about 1.500.000 hl of which only about 40% is bottled and not more than 30% of the bottles are exported.
The number of plants that have to be planted per hectare in Chianti Classico is above 4.000 per ha; in Chianti it is only 2.500 per ha.
The allowed maximum production in Chianti Classico is 7,5 tons of grapes per ha, when in Chianti it is 10,5 tons per ha.
Chianti Classico must be made with a minimum of 85% Sangiovese and the remaining 15% may be made only using officially allowed red berry grapes from an official and closed list, while the Chianti producers may use as little as 70% of Sangiovese and the remaining 30% may be made using about 10% of white berry grapes (mainly Malvasia and Trebbiano) and 20% of several different red berry grapes.
The presence of quickly oxidating white berry grapes mean that Chianti wines are already drinkable after less than 6 months from the harvest, but they are normally not made for ageing, lasting usually not more than 4 to 5 years. Chianti Classico wines on the other hand require a longer maturation, beginning only after at least one year from the harvest, but these wines are made for ageing, as they normally get to full maturity only after 10 to 20 years.
The confusion between Chianti Classico DOCG and Chianti DOCG creates a lot of damage to the Chianti Classico producers as the cost of production, as well as the usual level of quality, of the two wines is totally different. The cost of a bottle of Chianti is usually less than half of a bottle of Chianti Classico of the same vintage.
Sandro Caramelli
S.A.Santa Brigida S.a.s.
Fattoria La Ripa
P.O.Box n.1
50028 – S.Donato in Poggio (Fi) (Italy)
Phones: (+39) 055 8072948 / 055 8072121
Fax: (+39) 055 8072680

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