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Bolla Expands Into Chianti Production

The northern Italian winery has diversified into Tuscan bottlings

Jo Cooke
Posted: February 8, 2005

Italian wine company Bolla, a household name in the United States, has ventured out of its home base in the Veneto region for the first time, to launch a Tuscan red, the Bolla Chianti 2003.

Bolla is known for its Soave, Valpolicella and Amarone della Valpolicella. But the company's name recognition gave its owner, Kentucky-based drinks firm Brown-Forman Corp., an opportunity to enter the popular Tuscany region. "Americans think of Bolla as an Italian [rather than a Veneto] brand, so we see the project as a natural progression," said Donald Freytag, Brown-Forman's marketing director for Italian wines.

The new wine is made from Tuscany's staple red grape variety, Sangiovese, with a 10 percent dash of Canaiolo and other local varieties. The grapes are sourced from two cooperative wineries located in traditional Chianti-producing areas--Valdarno Superiore and Valdarno Inferiore, south and west of Florence, respectively. (Chianti is produced in many areas of Tuscany, but the Chianti Classico label is restricted to wines from the designated zone between Florence and Siena.) The wine is made in Tuscany under the supervision of Bolla's enologist, Gianpaolo Vaona, and then shipped up to the Bolla winery in Verona for bottling and packaging.

Made entirely in stainless steel, the 2003 Bolla Chianti (83 points, $9) shows light cherry, strawberry and hints of cedar on a soft and fresh medium body. The $9 price tag and the 120,000-case production, which is reserved almost entirely for the U.S. market, make it a very accessible red.

The Bolla family winery was established in 1883 and was one of the first Italian vintners to make its presence felt in the United States after World War II. In 2000, Brown-Forman, which owns brands such as Fetzer and had been Bolla's importer, took total ownership of the company.

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