Wine has always held a revered spot in Italian culture and as one of their oldest wines, Chianti has been treasured not only in Italy but around the world for centuries. Chianti’s rustic, earthy notes and distinctly dry tannins make it an excellent accompaniment to a wide variety of Italian dishes.

This garnet red wine comes from a hilly region of Tuscany that stretches between Florence and Siena. It is believed to be the first officially geographically demarcated wine in the world. In 1716, Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici signed the first form of legislation governing wine production in reference to the Chianti produced in three Tuscan villages, Gaiole, Castellina, and Radda.

These first regulations were fairly lenient in their production requirements and over the next few decades, the popularity of Chianti continued to rise. This permissive control over Chianti production allowed many winemakers to create less than desirable Chiantis at high volumes for sale around the world, causing the reputation and overall quality of Chianti to dip considerably. By the late 19th/early 20th century, passionate Chianti producers began to push for better regulations in order to preserve and protect the rich history and superior quality of true Chiantis.

Sangiovese Grapes

Throughout the long history of Chianti, there has always been a heavy focus on using Sangiovese grapes. Before the Roman Empire seized control of this region, the Etruscan people who lived here were the first to clear the Tuscan hillsides and plant Sangiovese vines. Sangiovese grapes are the most popular choice in central Italy when it comes to grapes used for red wine. They grow particularly well in Tuscany, where the rockier soil forces the vines to develop deeper root systems. This makes the fruit produced much more robust and flavorful.

Two DOCGs for Chianti

The majority of Chiantis belong to one of two DOCG designations. The first is the Chianti DOCG, which consists of seven different subzones that cover most of central Tuscany. These wines are at least 75% Sangiovese and can contain up to 10% of white grape varietals. They also must be aged for a minimum of three months before bottling.

The other DOCG is that of Chianti Classico, which has somewhat stricter regulations. It was given the name “classico” since this smaller Chianti-making region contains the original three villages, Gaiole, Castellina, and Radda, that were indicated in the 1716 demarcation. These wines must be at least 80% Sangiovese and contain zero white grape varietals, only red. The minimum aging period for Chianti Classicos before bottling is ten months.

You may also have noticed on bottles of Chianti Classico this small pink label with a black rooster in the center. This seal is given to all true Chianti Classicos and comes from the Chianti Classico Consortium. This organization was established in 1924 to help prevent Chianti wine fraud. They chose the black rooster for their seal to signify peace between Florence and Siena, who had been rival cities all throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

A Toast to Chianti at Osteria IL Centro

Osteria IL Centro has a fantastic selection of Chiantis for you to enjoy! The most popular one, Castello Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva 2017 is also available to order by the glass.

Castello Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva 2017

Almost any menu item you can order from OIC pairs beautifully with this rich Chianti Classico with supple tannins and a lingering finish. The wine is first aged for two years in Slavonian casks and then another 6 months in the bottle. It’s a stunning ruby red dry wine with aromas of cherry, plum, and iris on the nose and tasting notes of dark cherry, leather, vanilla, and oak.

If you are a fan of Chianti or just a lover of all things wine, join the Osteria IL Centro Wine Club! Members are the first to know about new wine arrivals at OIC and also benefit from a number of other perks, like discounts on wine cases and exclusive deals throughout the year! The best part - membership is complimentary! Click here to join the OIC Wine Club.

Stop by Osteria IL Centro for an evening of authentic Italian cuisine paired with a glass of Chianti in honor of its rich Italian history! Click here to make your reservation now!