Chianti and Chianti Classico: what’s the difference?


Chianti and Chianti Classico: what’s the difference?  If you think that Chianti and Chianti Classico are the same thing, you are wrong. There has been a lot of confusion between the two denominations.

In “wine-making-language”, the two terms Chianti & Chianti Classico do exists, but from an historic-geografic point of view, there is only one Chianti land. This includes the towns of Radda, Gaiole, Castellina in Chianti, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Greve in Chianti, San Casciano, Tavarnelle, Barberino Val d’Elsa, plus a very small portion of Poggibonsi. Four of them belong to the province of  Florence, the other to Siena.

For consumers, very often the term  “Classico” is left off and  the difference between the two gets lost  as the wine is simply called Chianti. But the “Classico” suffix is very important indeed, as it distinguishes two different DOCG, both sharing the same discipline but with different production areas and Consortium with different rules.

Chianti Classico boundaries

Beside the legend about Gallo Nero and the Chianti territories you read before, it was Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo III who established the borders of Chianti production in 1716.

logo chianti
Logo Chianti Classico

At the beginning of 20th century  Chianti wine became more and more renowned and its production could no longer satisfy the bigger national and international demand. It was then that the production flourished: the red wine was produced outside the area established in 1716, it was still called Chianti or “wine produced as Chianti.” It was in 1924 that producers founded the Consortium, as they felt the need to defend their typical wine and its label and established strict rules for its production.

In 1932, with an official ministerial decree, the suffix “Classico” was added to indicate only the wine that was produced in the original zone, while “Chianti” indicates the wider production area. In various occasion, a name is added to give more detailed indications: Chianti Colli Senesi, Chianti Colli Aretini…


Chianti Classico is produced with at least 80% of Sangiovese grapes (sometimes 100%).

Some red grapes can be added to Chianti Classico blends,  starting with autochthonous grapes like Canaiolo Nero and Colorino, but some international grapes like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon may be added as well.

glass of red wine
glass of red wine

Today, Chianti Classico is produced in 3 typologies, according to the so-called “qualitative pyramid”: Annata, Riserva, and Gran Selezione.

So it is definitely not just a matter of names when it comes to buy it! And not only that….we could start an all new chapter as well about how to drink it….If you think that anything (any glass) will do…well , think twice!

Read more in the next article. ( Photo by Il Vinaio , in Siena)


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