Exploring Chianti Classico

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Tuscany’s Renaissance artists depicted every nuance of Chianti Classico’s landscape – the subtle changes in light and shade across its vineyards, olive groves and towns. They would be stunned that Chianti Classico bottles are so randomly ordered on contemporary wine merchants’ shelves. Unlike Burgundy, for example, Chianti Classico wine labels cannot display the name of their towns of origin. Imagine Leonardo da Vinci asking Michaelangelo if he had painted a particular Tuscan townscape and Michaelangelo replying: ‘Yeah, I did. But regrettably the law forbids me from telling you exactly which town it was.’

There are nine towns in the Chianti Classico area and in 2015, wine-growers in one of those towns – Panzano – challenged the status quo by adding the name ‘Panzano’ to the front label of their wines. This move has encouraged other communes, leading to discussions at the consorzio level. In anticipation of all Chianti Classico producers being able to mention their commune on the bottle label in the not too distant future, here’s what to look for, town by town.

Poggibonsi

The town of Poggibonsi on the western edge of Chianti Classico is easily ignored. It is an architecturally anonymous midpoint on the rail or motorway journey between the renaissance jewels of Florence and Siena, and is home to the merest sliver (0.5%) of Chianti Classico vineyards. But its few vines sit on a ridge of usefully stony clay, producing satisfyingly proportioned Chianti Classico that benefits from a little time in oak. It is worth looking out also for Fattoria di Cinciano.

Fattoria Le Fonti, Chianti Classico 2015 89

A well-managed organic estate that uses seaweed sprays to keep its Sangiovese vines strong. This 100% Sangiovese shows clear, well-defined fruit and insistent, well-honed tannins, giving a smooth and interesting ride. Drink 2019-2024 Alc 14.5%

Translated by ICY

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