Chianti is Tuscany’s most famous and historic wine district. The Chianti DOCG is a large area with numerous sub-zones, many of them renowned. Chianti’s wines were so esteemed during the Renaissance that the Medici princes of Florence designated several villages within the Chianti region as discrete production zones, setting up the first appellations in Italy. By the 20th century Chianti was Italy’s primary wine export. But the pizza parlor Chiantis sent to foreign markets were inexpensive, unremarkable reds presented in round-bottomed, straw-covered bottles. To upgrade Chianti wines and the region’s image, the Chianti DOC was created in 1967 and the DOCG status came in 1984. Innovative producers started improving their wines and today’s Chiantis are nothing like the mass produced bottles of the 1950s and 1960s. Gambero Rosso, Italy’s leading wine journal, noted in 2014 that in Chianti “Sangiovese is back in its starring role…both as a component in blends and because it is now enjoying a correct interpretation.” Chianti DOC must be at least 75% Sangiovese.
This red grape is largely grown in central Italy. As the sole component or in a blend, it gives us Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino and Super Tuscans, among other favorites wines. The name is derived from the Latin for “blood of Jove.”