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Wine Spectator School


Course: Tuscany

Class 2: Chianti and Montalcino


CHIANTI OVERVIEW

 
History

For hundreds of years, Chianti has been the standard-bearer for Tuscan wines.

In 1716, Cosimo III officially recognized the zone's wine quality by declaring the production area of Chianti.

In the 1880s, Baron Ricasoli formulated the traditional Chianti blend of thirteen grapes, including:

  • Sangiovese
  • Canaiolo
  • Mammolo
  • Colorino
  • Ciliegiolo
  • and the whites, Malvasia and Trebbiano, which lightened the tannins and perfumed the aroma

For many years, the recipe helped winemakers produce reliably good wines as well as some outstanding wines.

Fast forward another hundred years to the 1970s, and neither Chianti nor Tuscany were in great shape thanks to decades of mass-production. Chianti was known for cheap spaghetti red sold in a straw-covered bottle, which was aptly called a fiasco.

The weak, insipid wines were...

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