I had the pleasure of dinning with the Director General of the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico, Giuseppe Liberatore, last night in Castellini in Chianti, Italy for the Conzorzio’s annual Pentecost in Castellina in Chianti at the “Sotto Le Volte”. We spoke in depth about the region and what the future holds for arguably one of Tuscany’s most important quality regions, he shared with me that the Consorzio is set to take a landmark vote on a motion to amend the quality levels for the wines produced in this region. Currently there are two general quality levels that appear on the label, Chianti Classico and Chianti Classico Riserva, the difference between the two being that the Riserva level is aged for a longer period before its release and thus usually represents a more complex expression of the region. Wine only labeled Chianti Classico is therefore a more youthful interpretation of the region.
- Classico (classic): is reserved for wines produced in the region where a particular type of wine has been produced “traditionally”. For the Chianti Classico, this “traditional region” is defined by a decree from July 10, 1932. Usually a relatively young wine rich in fruit that is put on the market on October 1st a year following the vintage year.
- Riserva (reserve): may be used only for wines that have been aged at least two years, with at least three consisting of ageing in bottle.
The proposed changes that Giuseppe shared with me are intent to add a third quality level that would sit at the top of the new proposed “quality pyramid”, this top level (the name is yet to be determined) would be required to be made from grapes coming exclusively from the estate vineyards of the producers, currently there exist no such legislation. A further proposed change is that producers will now need to declare their wines as Riserva level at harvest and need to submit their Riserva wines to a tasting panel for approval before release. All these changes are intended to further secure the quality of the regions wines. A further change is that the emblematic Black Rooster, Gallo Nero, is to play more prominent role on the packaging of the wines, and its placement on the bottle regulated. This is a move intended to help further distinguish these wines from the wines labeled simply Chianti, which come from a far broader region of Tuscany.
This historic vote on changing Chianti Classico’s future will take place on Monday the 28th and involve all 350 members. Giuseppe shared that this is sure to be a contentious day of debate and voting, and shared with me that the last time this issue was discussed the Consorzio members debated for 9 hours straight with no break for lunch! If the Chianti Classico members agree to accept the new proposed regulation changes it will then be put before the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and forestry who oversees the D.O.C. and D.O.C.G. regulations. He then will decide whether or not to present it to the E.U. Wine Commission who will have the ultimate say in whether or not to enact the proposed changes. If it passes all approval hurtles consumers should see the new labeling terms starting with the release of the 2013 vintage of Chianti Classico wines.