A few days ago I reported that there were changes afoot in Chianti Classico, well those changes have been officially decided on by the Chianti Classico Consortium after they voted by a wide majority to approve the measures, proposed by the board of directors to revamp the denomination. This vote allows the consortium to proceed with creating a new category of Chianti Classico at the top of the quality pyramid. Furthermore the emblematic Gallo Nero (Black Rooster) currently present on the governmental seal, denoting Chianti Classico D.O.C.G., will be relocated to the neck of the bottle to increase its visibility.
There has been much heated debate about these changes over the last many months, but most of the producers I spoke to, during my current trip to the region, were in full support of the measure, and yesterday’s vote saw the biggest participation of general assembly members in the past 30 years. When the gavel fell the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium members had approved a set of measures marking a historic turning point for the Chianti Classico DOCG.
Here is what was decided:
Creation of a new qualitative pyramid: approval was given to the proposal to create a top quality level for the Chianti Classico qualitative pyramid, which currently is limited to two different levels ; regular Chianti Classico “vintage” and Chianti Classico Riserva “reserve”.
This new kind level of Chianti Classico, whose name the assembly will define in coming months, will exclusively denote the Chianti Classico wines made from grapes grown solely on the producing wineries estate. So grapes sourced from other wineries or purchased in bulk will not be allowed for inclusion in the top-level wine. Furthermore, the minimum ageing of this new level of wine will be set at 30 months from grape harvest, with a minimum three months spent in the bottle. For Riserva wines the mandated ageing period remains two years, and for Chianti Classico a minimum of 12 months.
Further defining “Riserva”: Even the Riserva, which accounts for 30% of the amount produced and 40% of the denomination’s value, was involved in the revamping. While the maturation period remains unchanged, the new fact is that the vintner has to declare wine destination, i.e. whether he or she intends to make a Riserva when applying for certification. In effect the producer makes a more conscientious decision, in the production stage already deciding which grapes should be destined for the various types of wine.
Gallo Nero makeover: the trademark black rooster, that since 2005, represents the entire denomination and has that since then has been present on the state neckband seal for all producers of Chianti Classico (whether belonging to the consortium or not) will be graphically re-styled and relocated from the official seal to the neck of the bottle, in an effort to make it more visible on the bottle.
So what happens next? Well the consortium will now present this proposal ratified by its members will 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 hurdles consumers should see the new labeling terms starting with the release of the 2013 vintage of Chianti Classico wines.
The Chianti Classico region and its producers continue to look to the future and how they can improve the level of quality of their wines. Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks and days on what some producers are doing to cement their place on the roster of world-class wine estates.