Which is better: Chianti Classico or Chianti Superiore?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Which is better: Chianti Classico or Chianti Superiore?

—Tom, Schaumburg, Ill.

Dear Tom,

“Better” is a subjective term, especially considering that tastes differ. Further to that point, these designations are not indications of quality—rather, they are part of the Italian designation system, Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG), which defines geographic areas, crop yields and how wines are made.

Both Chianti Classico and Chianti Superiore are Italian wines made completely or mostly from the Sangiovese grape in Italy’s Tuscany region. The “Classico” in Chianti Classico refers to the region where it is grown, in an area between Florence and Sienna. The wine must be at least 80 percent Sangiovese and the wine must be aged one year before release. These reds are usually medium-bodied with supple tannins.

Meanwhile, grapes for Chianti Superiore can come from anywhere in Chianti outside of Chianti Classico, and the wine must be aged for nine months, three of which must be in the bottle. They tend to be a bit more vibrant and juicy in style.

You might prefer one style or another, which is perfectly OK. I will say that Chianti Classicos can be pricier, and if you look in our online database you will find some that are scored in the classic range, while Chianti Superiores tend to be more affordable and appreciated for their easy drinking.

—Dr. Vinny

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