The proclamation of the boundaries for the production of Chianti Classico

The Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo III de’ Medici, issues the edict that protects the origin of wines produced in the territory of today’s Chianti Classico, effectively defining a DOC ahead of its time.

The first notarial document that officially mentions the name Chianti to indicate the wine produced in the area of the same name located in Tuscany, between the provinces of Siena and Florence, dates back to 1398. In the centuries that followed, its fame, even outside national borders, grew to such an extent that the need to establish rules and controls for marketing became more and more stringent. 

And so it is that on September 24, 1716, the  Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo III de’ Medici issues the proclamation with which the boundaries for the production of Chianti wine, today Chianti Classico, are formally fixed, essentially creating one of the first designations of origin of the modern era. His edict establishes a factual geolocalized mapping, quite similar to what is described in today’s DOCG and DOC product specifications: it mentions places that are well known to Chianti Classico enthusiasts, while at the same time indicating precise constraints, which do not allow for the name Chianti to be used to exchange wines produced outside the delimited region.

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The storming of the Bastille

The storming of the Bastille marks the beginning of the French Revolution in Paris.

The “recipe” of Chianti Classico

Bettino Ricasoli – the second Prime Minister of United Italy in 1861 – perfected the “recipe” with the varieties and percentages recommended for the wines produced in today’s Chianti Classico.

If the 1716 edict represents a milestone for the geographical identity of Chianti Classico, the winemaking one is still in the making. Despite the abundance of documents, we do not know exactly what varieties were used at the time, and in what way.

We do know, however, that starting from the second half of the 1700s experimentation and research on vines and wines intensified, thanks also to the studies of the famous Georgofili Academy, founded in Florence on June 4, 1753. This journey is symbolically completed in 1872, the year of a letter addressed to Professor Cesare Studiati of the University of Pisa by Baron Bettino Ricasoli, second Prime Minister of United Italy in 1861. This letter contains what has gone down in history as the so-called “recipe” of Chianti (Classico).

After testing various production options at his Brolio estate for a long time, the “Barone di Ferro” concludes that the best results are obtained with a blend composed mostly of Sangiovese, with a share of Canaiolo, and finally a touch of Malvasia Bianca, to be used only on ready-to-drink wines not intended for aging.

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L’epidemia di fillossera si diffonde in Italia

Nella seconda metà dell’800 la viticoltura europea è letteralmente devastata da una vera e propria “pandemia vegetale”, che in poco più di mezzo secolo distrugge oltre la metà dei vigneti.

A causarla è la diffusione della fillossera (Daktulosphaira vitifoliae), un insetto originario del Nordamerica che attacca le radici delle viti europee, facendole morire in breve tempo.

Il parassita viene individuato per la prima volta in Europa nel 1863 a Londra, presso le serre di Hammersmith, mentre la sua presenza è registrata nel Sud-Ovest della Francia nel 1868. Per l’Italia l’anno zero è il 1879, quando viene accertato un primo focolaio in Lombardia: di lì a poco si propaga ovunque, isole comprese. In Toscana la prima rilevazione certa risale al 1888 e nel 1931, a distanza di quasi cinquant’anni, la fillossera è ancora presente in 89 province (sulle 92 di allora).

La produzione di vino inesorabilmente crolla, in alcune zone sparirà per sempre. La strage dei vigneti prosegue inarrestabile, almeno fino a quando non si scopre in Francia la possibilità di innestare la parte aerea delle viti europee con l’apparato radicale dei ceppi americani, immuni dall’aggressione. Servirà tuttavia molto tempo per una piena ripresa del comparto.

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The Consorzio per la difesa del Vino Tipico del Chianti e della sua Marca di Origine is founded

On May 14th, the Consorzio per la difesa del Vino Tipico del Chianti e della sua Marca di Origine is founded in Radda in Chianti, taking on the Black Rooster as its symbol.

It is the first Consortium in the history of Italian wines.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the name Chianti is so famous that it becomes synonymous with Tuscan and Italian wine in the world. The demand is so high that the production coming from the historic area, the one delimited in the 1716 edict by Cosimo III de’ Medici, is not enough to fully satisfy it. This pushes a growing number of regional wineries, and not only, to market wines with the wording “produced Chianti-style”, despite the fact that they are made with grapes and musts that do not come from the original area.

The pressing need to protect their specific identity therefore encourages 33 local winegrowers to come together, to create the first association of wine producers founded in Italy. On May 14th 1924, the Consorzio per la difesa del Vino Tipico del Chianti e della sua Marca di Origine is founded in Radda, and later renamed Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico in 1968.

The founders immediately recognized themselves in a symbol rooted in the community’s collective memory – the legendary Black Rooster, the historic symbol of the ancient Military League of Chianti. This image quickly becomes the brand par excellence of the wines from the district, representing its pride and blazon on national and international markets in the best possible way.

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Italo De Lucchi

April 1926, second annual meeting of the Consorzio per la difesa del Vino Tipico del Chianti e della sua Marca di Origine (Consortium for the protection of typical Chianti wine and its historic brand of origin).

Italo De Lucchi, first President of the Consorzio, explains to the still hesitant members the reasons why it would be in their interest to purchase the Gallo Nero labels to put on their bottles. A real marketing lesson that is way ahead of its time, as it maps out the path for the Consorzio’s extraordinary adventure to come.

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The “Chianti Classico” production area is officially delimited

A subzone corresponding to the historic territory protected by the edict of Cosimo III.

The newborn Consorzio finds itself facing a series of problems related to the protection of the authenticity and origin of wines produced in the territory defined by Cosimo III’s proclamation. The issue explodes definitively in 1932 with the approval of a Ministerial Decree that delimits the production area for Chianti wine, interpreting it as an “oenological specification” and extending it to a large part of Tuscany. However, the proud determination of the member wine estates that recognize themselves in the Gallo Nero symbol allows them to effectively counterbalance the situation.

A special status is in fact recognized for the wines produced in the original territory, the one that lies between the provinces of Florence and Siena as indicated in the 1716 edict. This makes it possible to distinguish the wines produced in the historic area from those from other districts: the “Chianti Classico” specification officially debuts, hence becoming the trade name that since then has been exclusively protecting wines produced with grapes grown according to quality parameters within the geographical boundaries of Chianti.

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Gino Sarrocchi

October 1942. Senator Gino Sarrocchi writes a letter to the director of La Nazione newspaper, expressing his concern regarding the possible effects of certain legislative measures approved...

…during the previous two years. In fact, there is a risk that Chianti can be produced in increasingly wider areas as a “Wine of fine workmanship” and not as a “Wine of fine production”, further weakening the link it possesses with its historic area of production.

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Luigi Ricasoli Firidolfi

June 1954. Speaking at the “Economic Winemaking conference of Chianti”, organized by the Consorzio per la difesa del Vino Tipico del Chianti e della sua Marca di Origine (Consortium for the...

…protection of typical Chianti wine and its historic brand of origin) in Radda in Chianti, Luigi Ricasoli Firidolfi strongly emphasized the pride that unites the Gallo Nero wine producers, all deeply engaged in their common effort to support the history and cultivate the reputation of one of the most noble terroirs of European wine.

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Phylloxera, the Second World War, and the terrible winter of ’56

A terrible winter frost destroys most of the vines and olive trees in Tuscany and Chianti Classico, increasing the difficulties related to the post-war reconstruction, the depopulation of...

…the countryside and the end of sharecropping.

The battle for the protection of Chianti Classico wines is just one of the many challenges faced by the Consorzio for most of the twentieth century. First, the most critical phase linked to the phylloxera epidemic; then, the outbreak of the Second World War, which directly involved the Chianti countryside in the summer of 1944.

And lest we forget the many factors that rapidly transformed the social fabric in the 1950s: the economic boom, the migratory flows from rural areas to the large industrial cities, the progressive depopulation of the countryside, and the abolition of sharecropping, which for several centuries had been central to the agricultural system of Tuscany and Chianti Classico. As if all of this were not enough, the winter of 1956 was marred by a terrible frost, which began on February 1st and continued for weeks: in many regions of Central Italy the typical Mediterranean crops, such as olive trees and vines, were utterly devastated. In many ways, it was the most difficult moment, yet also the one from which the district rose again experiencing a new extraordinary moment of growth – just like the darkest hour, moments before the break of a sunny and radiant dawn.

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Bettino Ricasoli

April 1959. Bettino Ricasoli Firidolfi invites the Assembly of the Consorzio members to accept the recognition of the suffix “Classico” for the wines produced in the area of origin: the reference is...

…to the wine sector-regulating law approved in 1932, which also allowed wine producers situated outside the area of origin to call their wine “Chianti”.

For more than two decades, resistance from winemakers located within the historically recognized area had been delaying the entry into force of the measure, which would however have ensured the recognition of important prerogatives to the wine denomination, such as autonomous rules for Chianti Classico and direct supervision of their enforcement throughout the entire supply chain.

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The establishment of the Denomination of Controlled Origin (DOC)

The Chianti Controlled Designation of Origin (DOC) is established, which provides for the “Chianti Classico” subzone to protect the historic area with more restrictive production rules.

In addition to the general issues that characterize the post-World War II period, there are other more specific ones related to the wine sector. Despite the many changes underway, at this stage wine in Italy still has a more nutritional function than a hedonistic one. This also leads to a strong production and commercial segmentation: on the one hand, there are areas that focus on large quantities sold at low prices; on the other, there are districts that, because of orographic, geo-climatic and agricultural reasons, are identified above all with fine wines with high added value.

This is precisely the case of Chianti Classico, which sees its prestige on the markets increase even more thanks to the establishment of the Denomination of Controlled Origin (DOC) in 1967. Said recognition gives further impetus to the development of the area, creating the conditions for its current configuration: the viticultural and ampelographic platform is expanded, the number of producers increases, and numerous innovative projects support the historic wineries of the area.

Producers that are very different from each other in terms of size, geographical location and stylistic inspiration cooperate within the Consorzio Vino Chianti – so renamed in 1968 – with the common goal of bringing to light the vocation of a one-of-a-kind territory through the expression of its wines.

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The Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin (DOCG)

Chianti DOC becomes DOCG (Denominazione d’Origine Controllata e Garantita – Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin): even more stringent quality parameters are now set for...

…the historic area, protected by the “Chianti Classico” subzone.

Following publication in the Official Gazette of 20 October 1984, the new regulations approved for the Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin (DOCG) come into force. The “promotion” from DOC to DOCG introduces further production constraints, many of which have already been adopted by the Gallo Nero companies, as well as a significant remodeling of the ampelographic base.

The minimum and maximum usable percentage of Sangiovese is increased (from 50-75% to 75-90%), just as the platform of complementary varieties is amended: Canaiolo from 5 to 10%, Trebbiano and Malvasia from 2 to 5% (previously from 10 to 30%) and other “recommended or authorized” red grape varieties up to 10%. These also include international varieties such as Cabernet and Merlot, which therefore officially enter the Chianti Classico blend for the first time, whereas the original DOC regulations indicated a maximum quota of 5% for complementary wines, with preference for Colorino.

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The trade name “Chianti Classico” is recognized as an independent denomination

Chianti Classico is recognized as an autonomous DOCG and the new regulations provide for the possibility of producing wines from Sangiovese grapes only.

At the end of the 20th century, a real “golden age” begins for Gallo Nero companies and wines. The moment that acts as a symbolic watershed in this time interval is undoubtedly 1996, the year in which the trade name “Chianti Classico” is recognized as an independent denomination.

After decades of battles, it is officially established by law that Chianti Classico is not a subzone of Chianti, but the oldest original area protected by an independent DOCG. This allows the Consorzio, founded in 1924, to act as a representative body for all the winemakers and growers operating in the denomination, as well as to autonomously suggest changes relating to relevant production protocols.

Among the most important changes introduced by the new product specifications is the one that provides for the possibility of claiming wines produced with 100% Sangiovese grapes as Chianti Classico. This option had not been allowed until then, given that Sangiovese had to be used in blends with other native and/or international varieties.

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Gualtiero Armando Nunzi

May 1997. The Knight of Labour Gualtiero Armando Nunzi ends his presidential mandate as President addressing heartfelt closing remarks to the Assembly of the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico Members.

…In his farewell speech, he reviews the various events that have accompanied the members’ associative adventure over the past decades, looking with confidence and hope towards a future rich in opportunities, first and foremost thanks to the recently acquired autonomy for the Chianti Classico designation.

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Gherardo Ungarelli

June 1997. Interviewed by the quarterly magazine “Il Giornale del Gallo Nero”, Gherardo Ungarelli paints a detailed picture of the most significant market and consumer trends that are taking shape...

…globally at the end of the century, with a view to the new millennium. A real social and anthropological revolution, which in the years to come will contribute to making territories, producers, and wines of Chianti Classico increasingly central.

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Carlo Maria Mascheroni

April 1998. Carlo Maria Mascheroni addresses the members of the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico, reaffirming with strength the founding philosophy and approach that underlie the work of the most important associative entity in the Chianti region.

Vittorio Pozzesi

May 2001. Vittorio Pozzesi presents to the Assembly of the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico members the “Charter for the sustainable use of the Chianti Classico territory”, a useful tool to initiate...

…a dialogue with Public Administrations on a virtuous management of the territory, a concern that is transversally shared among the main municipal and provincial institutions.

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Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti

December 2003, Milan. Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti speaks at the conference “Whose ideas are they: creativity, copyright, brands, and patents to the test of the open market and new technologies”, emphasizing...

…the transversally recognized role of Chianti Classico Gallo Nero as a production area, but also and above all as a distinctive symbol of national identity.

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Giovanni Ricasoli Firidolfi

December 2004. Giovanni Ricasoli Firidolfi celebrates the importance of Gallo Nero as a globally-recognized Community symbol: this is the core message of his address during the...

…Assembly, formalizing the reunification between the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico and the Consorzio del Marchio Storico – Chianti Classico (Consortium of the Historical Chianti Classico Brand), that is, the two associations created in 1987 as a result of the decision to separate the protection-supervision function from the promotion-enhancement function, established by Ministerial Decree of March 13th 1982.

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Another key year in the collective history of Chianti Classico

The two associative bodies born from the separation of the supervisory and promotion functions are reunited: Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico and Consorzio del Marchio Storico.

The Gallo Nero symbol appears on all bottles of Chianti Classico DOCG and it is no longer possible to use white grapes.

2005 is another key year in the collective history of Chianti Classico. On May 14th, the two associative structures created in 1987 as a result of the separation between functions generated by Ministerial Decree of March 13th 1982 are now reunited – specifically, the protection-supervision function entrusted to the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico and the promotion-enhancement function assigned to the Consorzio del Gallo Nero (renamed Consorzio del Marchio Storico – Chianti Classico in 1992).

This reunification determines a series of innovations, the most important of which concerns the adoption of the Gallo Nero as the official trademark of the entire denomination, which is no longer applicable only to the winegrowers belonging to the Gallo Nero Consortium. From that moment on, the symbol marks all the wines claimed through the DOCG, appearing on every bottle labeled as Chianti Classico.

2005 is also the last harvest that allows the use of white grape varieties in the Chianti Classico blend. However, Trebbiano and Malvasia remain protagonists in the composition of the blend that defines one of the most fascinating and distinctive examples of the territorial selection: the Vin Santo del Chianti Classico.

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Marco Pallanti

February 2012. Marco Pallanti inaugurates the new Chianti Classico Collection edition, an event presenting the new Gallo Nero vintages and showcasing the Designation in an enthusiastic and engaging...

…atmosphere that highlights the centuries-old bond between the typical grape varieties of the territory and its top-level producers. The protagonist here is this indissoluble bond, which reveals itself more and more as the special narrative of an extraordinarily composite dimension.

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The Gran Selezione typology is officially introduced

The Gran Selezione typology is officially introduced, placing itself at the top of the quality pyramid of wines protected by the Chianti Classico DOCG. On September 14th 2011, the full...

…representativeness of the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico is officially recognized by Ministerial Decree: it is the first wine consortium in Italy to obtain the erga omnes mandate, which allows it to carry out all the functions relating to its denominations of competence (Chianti Classico and Vin Santo del Chianti Classico).

And finally, we arrive at 2014, when the amendment to the product specifications establishing the Gran Selezione is approved. For the first time in Italian wine legislation, a new typology is introduced, placing itself at the top of the Gallo Nero quality pyramid, alongside Chianti Classico Annata and Riserva. It identifies wines made exclusively with estate grapes (i.e. vineyards under direct management, owned or rented), marketed after no less than 30 months of aging in the cellar.

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Sergio Zingarelli

Commenting on Chianti Classico’s proclamation as “Wine Region of the Year” by a prestigious American magazine, Sergio Zingarelli describes the synergy between natural, human and entrepreneurial...

…elements that have shaped the Chianti Classico region over time, making it unique.

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The Consorzio Member Assembly resolves to adopt the Additional Geographical Units (UGA)

The Members’ Assembly of the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico approves the adoption of the Additional Geographical Units (UGA). The most recent stages in the collective adventure of Chianti Classico...

…signal a further commitment aimed at the full enhancement of its spectacular territorial richness. From this perspective, the date that needs remembering is undoubtedly that of June 16th 2021, when the Consorzio Member Assembly resolves to adopt the Additional Geographical Units (UGA).

These are more specific production areas officially delimited within a Designation of Origin: they may correspond to municipalities, hamlets or other administratively recognized areas. At the moment, eleven of them have been identified for the Chianti Classico DOCG, and at this stage they can only be mentioned by wines claimed through the Gran Selezione type. In alphabetical order, these UGAs are: Castellina, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Gaiole, Greve, Lamole, Montefioralle, Panzano, Radda, San Casciano, San Donato in Poggio, Vagliagli.

It is the culmination of an exceptional project and at the same time, a new stimulating starting point. It is the fresh chapter of a story yet to be written, a new logbook entry in the wonderful journey of discovery into the plural identity of Chianti Classico and its inimitable wines.

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Giovanni Manetti

Cohesion: this is the key word guiding Giovanni Manetti, the President-in-Office of the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico, in his introduction to the book “Sulle tracce del Gallo Nero”.

Edited by Daniele Cernilli with Paolo De Cristofaro, this publication is produced by Iniziative Speciali di Giunti Editore to mark the 100th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Consorzio per la Difesa del Vino Tipico del Chianti e della sua Marca di Origine (Consortium for the protection of typical Chianti wine and its historic brand of origin).

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100 years of Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico

Chianti Classico wines are exported all over the world – to more than 160 countries across five continents. A century after its foundation, the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico is recognized as one of...

…the most important associative structures in the world, as well as an undisputed point of reference for the Gallo Nero agricultural and economic system.

It has 482 members (345 of whom are bottlers), representing more than 96% of the businesses operating in the area. It covers an area of over 70,000 hectares, about 60% of which is covered in woods (45,000 hectares), whereas the total vineyard area is approximately 10,000 hectares, about 7,000 of which are suitable for producing Chianti Classico DOCG, a share that overlaps the surface area planted with olive groves (just under 6,950 hectares).

Annual production in the decade 2013/2022 ranges between 255,000 and 285,000 hectoliters, corresponding to 35-38 million bottles marketed in over 160 countries around the world. The United States is firmly the leading market with 37% of sales, followed by Italy with 19%, Canada with 10%, the United Kingdom with 7% and Germany with 6%.

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