The Renaissance and the Medici’s Chianti
The history of Chianti continues with Medici, who had their hands in Chianti. They created the Chianti Classico area we keep talking about. In 1716, Grand Duke Cosimo III de’ Medici was ruling over Florence. He also controlled the surrounding area and vineyards outside the walls. Here the nobles of Firenze owned most of the areas. The Medici officially defined the boundaries for the production of the Chianti wine as the area between Florence and Siena. Within the city of Florence, this Chianti was sold in green traditional blown-glass flasks (invented by Leonardo DaVinci, who knew?) called fiaschi that had a woven straw covering woven onto the bottom to protect it. If you visit Florence today, you can still see the cantinas of the palaces of the nobles, where they sold flask through little wine windows. This tradition lasted through to the early 20th century.
The Prime Minister’s Chianti “Recipe”
One of the most important people to urge the Chianti vino along was Bettino Ricasoli. He was, among the others things, the second Prime Minister of Italy. He wanted the Chianti wine to be able to compete on an international level. Above all with the nearby renowned wines from France. After thirty years of research and development of new ways to grow grapes and intricate formulas for fermentation, he created the first “formula” for Chianti: Sangiovese, Cannaiolo, and Malvasia grapes in 1872. In 1967, the “Ricasoli formula” was set as the guideline for proper Chianti production by the Italian government.
Chianti Classico of Yesterday vs Chianti Today
By the early 1900s, Chianti was starting to become appreciated around the world. From China to Guatemala and everywhere in between demand of wine export increased. Due to years of disease in the vines, and a few world wars (just a bit), there was a decline in production. Despite that, it kicked back into gear after WWII.
There haven’t been any more knights fighting over the land, but the tiny area of the original Chianti has been expanded across the entire state of Tuscany with many sub-zones that are still able to call their wines the Chianti name, but not Chianti Classico. To have a simple Chianti, the winemaker has to use 80% Sangiovese grapes and be in one of the sub-zones in Tuscany, though this can range anywhere from up near the Leaning Tower of Pisa to down near Montalcino with their brooding Brunello. In a Chianti Classico, as we know, the rest of the grapes have to be the Ricasoli formula. However, for general Chianti, the winemakers are free to experiment.
Now that you have a good grip on the history of Chianti, it’s time to make the dream a reality. If you visit Florence, make sure to visit Chianti with us, and we’ll take you out into those vineyards, let you taste the difference between a Classico and a Chianti, and get you that beautiful panorama over Chianti, and now can think of all the history that has taken place when you taste of that first sip. We know it’ll be absolutely perfetto.