Friday, June 1, 2012

Chianti Classico: The Times They Are A-Changing

During my time touring the Chianti Classico region, the Consorzio del Vino Chianti Classico (the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium) met on Monday, May 28, for a historic vote, the results which are supposed to  lead to some significant changes in this DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita). The results were a major topic of discussion, which I am sure will continue for some time to come.

Over two years of study, analysis, expert consultations and various meetings went into forming these proposals. At the general assembly on May 28, they had their largest participation in the past thirty years and the measures passed by a wide majority. Marco Pallanti, the outgoing president, stated this was "An overhaul aimed at re-launching this prestigious denomination, definitely veered towards great quality.”

So what were some of the changes? Here are some of the major revisions, though note that there are others as well.

First, they will create a new "Qualitative Pyramid," establishing a new category at the summit of their wine pyramid. This new category, which has yet to be named, will include only wines made from grapes that were grown by the winery so the wines cannot use wines purchased from other wineries. The wine also cannot be marketed until at least 30 months after harvest. This new category could then place some Super Tuscans at the top of the pyramid, above basic Chianti Classico and Chianti Classico Riserva.

Second, the “Riserva” category is being revised. Though the aging regulations remain the same, the change is that the winery will have to declare which category their wine will fall into when applying for certification, during the production stage. Thus, the producer must make an important decision on which wine category his grapes will fall into before any maturation.

Third, in a more aesthetic change, the "Black Rooster" trademark, which has represented the DOCG since 2005 will be redone. Currently, the image of the black rooster has been placed on the state neckband for all Chianti Classico wines, whether in the consortium or not, but now it will be placed on the neck of the bottle instead and the graphic will be restyled.

Marco Pallanti stated, “I’ve been working with the board for a long time to find the biggest consensus from members about these changes. Endeavors aimed at having the consumer perceive the higher quality that our wines have achieved in recent years, enabling us to face future challenges with a set of regulations able to make Chianti Classico stronger with regard to growing international competition. Even the assembly’s ruling on bulk wine, which now has to be certified before being marketed, should be interpreted from this standpoint."

The votes still must be presented to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies but that is thought to be more pro forma but it will take about a year before anything is finalized. So it is possible that the changes could be fully approved in time for the release of the 2013 vintage.

Not all consortium members were happy with the resolutions, believing that the changes would not really lead to better overall quality, though they are in the minority. It is still early in the process so it is difficult to know whether it will lead to better quality or not. More work is still needed to be done, but it is a positive aspect that so many of the consortium members were able to agree on the need for change, and see the necessity of increasing quality. The future will tell whether their decision will work or not.

No comments: