One of the things a lot of people who Tuscany from as well, is the Chianti region where the Chianti wine comes from. Lush hills, lots of sun, some showers here and there. In general wine that comes from this region is good.
And I wanted to know more about it, so I went to a vineyard in the heart of the Chianti Classico (the most traditional) region.
Join me on my trip and learn something just like I did.
So when you are in the heart of the Chianti region it is actually kind of cool to make a trip to a vineyard. And that is not only because you get to try a wine tasting for way too cheap.
This is more about seeing the process behind a family business of just a small player in this gigantic field. We visitied the Cantali vineyards and wine cellars and actually learned a lot.
It all starts with the grape and location
Now I came here just as a lover of wine but not as some one who claims to know anything about it. So for me the simple thing like what is the diffence between a Chianti and a Chianti classice wine was a big mystery already.
The Chianti region is big, say the triangle between Pisa, Florence and Sienna. But within this region there is a group of villages that decided to work together to have a standard in grape and quality. This became the Chianti classico region and only wine with grapes coming from the 9 villages Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti, Greve in Chianti, Radda in Chianti and parts of Barberino Tavarnelle, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Poggibonsi and San Casciano in Val di Pesa are allowed to call themselves producers of the Chianti classico wine.
Then around September / October the grapes will be ready for harvesting. I asked the lady there when they know when the grapes are ready, if this is because of the size or the color of the grape and I was naively surprised that this is all about science nowadays. No just looking at a grape and thinking when it might be ready, but taking samples and measuring sugar levels and alcohol levels. Measuring, not guessing.
I also asked what the perfect circumstances for growing would be and the answer is that the mixture of rain and sun is the perfect one. And hoping that not a week before harvesting a gigantic hailstorm would mess up all the bushes ofcourse. The plants are fragile in the end and it is hand work.
Also the Chianto Classico brand has not allowed the vineyards to irrigate the fields. I get the tradition, but it would make life a lot easier right?
And then we wait...
After the harvesting time where in this vineyard it is all still being plucked by hand, the wine is grinded and strained and the put in the metal stowers where the wine will be kept for a couple weeks to start the fermentation process where it is measured daily.
Once the levels are good (and this is ofcourse all top secret what those levels are) the the wine is put in the Oakwood barrels for the rest of the fermentation and also for the wood to take out the tannicness of the flavour.
So here the wine is just lying around in a temperature controlled semi dark place for the best circumstances, where it will stay for several months up until years if it turned out to be the good grape for the Chianti Classico Riserva.
So speaking of the quality and how you can see it back when buying a while. As said the Chianti Classico Riserva until gets this label when it has been in the cellar for more than 2 years and a couple of months bottles in there as well.
Also for a Riserva the wine also has to be 85% Sangiovese grapes of minimum and that max 15% other grapes from the blend also has to be from the Chianti Classico region as well.
You can see it is a Classico on the label with the Black Rooster. Only when it has the black rooster this is when it is an original from the region.
For me it was a cool oppertunity to get to know more about this wine in general, because when drinking this wine in Holland is a bit costly. A bottle of Chianti Classico Riserva was between $15 and $20 bucks but when you buy the same one in Holland it will cost you more than $40 bucks, and that is never worth it to me.
As said, I have never been to a vineyard before and I did learn a lot about the process of making wine in general. Would I go to a vineyard again when visiting a different region? Heck yeah! Because now I learned a lot about this specific grape and wine, but going somewhere else would also make you more enthusiastic about the quircks from there.
I'm liking this wine game!