Chianti 101: All You Need to Know about this Classic Italian Wine

Just like Bordeaux or Champagne, Chianti gets its name not from the grape that is used to make the wine, which is Sangiovese, but from the region where it is made.

The Chianti region in Italy, also referred to as Monti del Chianti (“Chianti Mountains”) or Colline del Chianti “Chianti Hills”), is Tuscany’s main wine region. Located south of Florence and north of Siena, Chianti is exceptional for its hills and renowned vineyards.

There are different classifications and types of Chianti. Sangiovese is the predominant grape in all the wines, and the most common classifications include:

Standard Chianti DOCG. Made of a blend of at least 70% Sangiovese grapes. Aged three months or more. Can be described as easy drinking wine with predominant flavors of bright cherry. The Chianti region is divided into seven subzones, each making its own Chianti wine with distinctive names and labels. The subzones include: Chianti Rufina, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Aretini, Colli Senesi, Colline Pisane, Chianti Montalbano, and Chianti Montespertoli.

Chianti Classico DOCG. Premium Chianti made made from the Classico region. It’s made with at least 80% Sangiovese grapes and aged for at least 10 months. The bottle of the Chianti Classico can best be recognized by its black rooster seal. Because it is more developed, Chianti Classico pairs well with heartier dishes. Chianti Classico has two more classification levels that are determined by quality and length of aging, Chianti Classico Riserva and Chianti Gran Selezione. We discuss the two, in turn, below.

Chianti Classico Riserva. Aged for two years in a barrel and three additional months in a bottle, Chianti Riserva is known for its savory notes and fitness for food pairing.

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione. Created in 2014, the newest designation within Chianti Classico, is Chianti Classico Gran Selezione. Wines with this classification are rare, requiring wine to be 100% estate fruit and at least 30 months of aging in oak barrels.

It just so happens that September 4th is National Chianti Day! If you are unsure of which bottle of wine to try next, you need not worry. We offer “eXcellent wines at eXceptional prices,” and are happy to suggest some of our staff favorites. Come in to pick up a bottle of any of these featured Chiantis – you’ll thank us.

From left to right, a Piccini Chianti DOCG 2018, a delightful Castello di Radda Chianti Classico 2016, or a mature Castello di Radda Chianti Classico Riserva 2013.