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The Chianti region covers an area of Tuscany and includes several overlapping Denominazione di origine controllata and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita regions. Other well known Sangiovese-based Tuscan wines Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano could be bottled and labeled under the most basic designation of “Chianti” if their producers chose to do so.
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Within the collective Chianti region more than 8 million cases of wines classified as DOC level or above are produced each year. Today, most Chianti falls under two major designations of Chianti DOCG, which includes basic level Chianti, as well as that from seven designated sub-zones, and Chianti Classico DOCG. These two Chianti zones produce the largest volume of DOC/G wines in Italy.
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The Chianti DOCG covers all the Chianti wine and includes a large stretch of land encompassing the western reaches of the province of Pisa near the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Florentine hills in the province of Florence to the north, to the province of Arezzo in the east and the Siena hills to the south.

The Chianti DOCG covers all the Chianti wine and includes a large stretch of land encompassing the western reaches of the province of Pisa near the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Florentine hills in the province of Florence to the north, to the province of Arezzo in the east and the Siena hills to the south. Within this regions are vineyards that overlap the DOCG regions of Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Any Sangiovese-based wine made according to the Chianti guidelines from these vineyards can be labelled and marked under the basic Chianti DOCG should the producer wish to use the designation. Within the Chianti DOCG there are eight defined sub-zones that are permitted to affix their name to the wine label. Wines that are labeled as simply Chianti are made either from a blend from these sub-zones or include grapes from peripheral areas not within the boundaries of a sub-zone.

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As of 2006, there were 318 ha under production in Montalbano, 905 ha in the Colli Fiorentini, 57 ha in Montespertoli, 740 ha in Rufina, 3,550 ha in the Colli Senesi, 150 ha in Colline Pisane, 649 ha in the Colli Aretini, and an extra 10,324 ha in the peripheral areas that do not fall within one of the sub-zone classifications. Wines made from these vineyards are labelled simply “Chianti”.
The original area dictated by the edict of Cosimo III de’ Medici would eventually be considered the heart of the modern “Chianti Classico” subregion. As of 2006, there were 7,140 ha of vineyards in the Chianti Classico subregion. The Chianti Classico subregion covers an area of approximate 260 km2 (100 square miles) between the city of Florence to the north and Siena to the south.
The four communes of Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti, Greve in Chianti and Radda in Chianti are located within the boundaries of the Classico with parts of Barberino Val d’Elsa, San Casciano in Val di Pesa and Tavarnelle Val di Pesa in the province of Florence, and Castelnuovo Berardenga and Poggibonsi in the province of Siena included in the boundaries of Chianti Classico.
The soil and geography of this subregion can be quite varied, with altitudes ranging from 250 to 610 m (820 to 2,000 feet), and rolling hills producing differing macroclimates. There are two main soil types in the area: a weathered sandstone known as alberese and a bluish-gray chalky marlstone known as galestro.

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The soil in the north is richer and more fertile with more galestro, with the soil gradually becoming harder and stonier with more albarese in the south. In the north, the Arno river can have an influence on the climate, keeping the temperatures slightly cooler, an influence that diminishes further south in the warmer Classico territory towards Castelnuovo Berardenga. Chianti Classico are premium Chianti wines that tend to be medium-bodied with firm tannins and medium-high to high acidity. Floral, cherry and light nutty notes are characteristic aromas with the wines expressing more notes on the mid-palate and finish than at the front of the mouth. As with Bordeaux, the different zones of Chianti Classico have unique characteristics that can be exemplified and perceived in some wines from those areas. According to Master of Wine Mary Ewing-Mulligan, Chianti Classico wines from the Castellina area tend to have a very delicate aroma and flavor, Castelnuovo Berardegna wines tend to be the most ripe and richest tasting, wines from Gaiole tend to have been characterized by their structure and firm tannins while wines from the Greve area tend to have very concentrated flavours.

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The production of Chianti Classico is realised under the supervision of Consorzio del Vino Chianti Classico, a union of producers in the Chianti Classico subregion. The Consorzio was founded with the aim of promoting the wines of the subregion, improving quality and preventing wine fraud.
Since the 1980s, the foundation has sponsored a research into the viticulture of the Chianti Classico area, particularly in the area of clonal research. In the last three decades, more than 50% of the vineyards in the Chianti Classico region have been replanted with improved Sangiovese clones and modern vineyard techniques as part of the Consorzio Chianti Classico’s project “Chianti 2000”.

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Since 1996 the blend for Chianti and Chianti Classico has been 75–100% Sangiovese, up to 10% Canaiolo and up to 20% of any other approved red grape variety such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah. Since 2006, the use of white grape varieties such as Malvasia and Trebbiano have been prohibited in Chianti Classico. Chianti Classico must have a minimum alcohol level of at least 12% with a minimum of 7 months aging in oak, while Chianti Classico’s labeled riserva must be aged at least 24 months at the winery, with a minimum alcohol level of at least 12.5%. The harvest yields for Chianti Classico are restricted to no more than 7.5 t/ha (3 tonnes per acre). For basic Chianti, the minimum alcohol level is 11.5% with yields restricted to 9 t/ha (4 tonnes per acre). The aging for basic Chianti DOCG is much less stringent with most varieties allowed to be released to the market on 1 March following the vintage year. The sub-zones of Colli Fiorentini, Montespertoli and Rufina must be aged for a further three months and not released until 1 June. All Chianti Classicos must be held back until 1 October in the year following the vintage.