Today, the Chianti area is divided into 2 regions, the boundary running between Florence to the north composed of five zones (including the three original towns, Greve and Barberino Val D’Elsa), and Sienna to the south composed of two zones. You may wonder at the inequity of the division, well as legend would have it, a race between two riders starting when the cocks crowed would determine the borders. Sienna chose a well fed white rooster, while the Florentines chose a skinny black rooster. Sienna’s rooster overslept, and that as they say was that!
The next two designations can be attributed to the Italians' easy going nature and a certain disposition for “not following the rules”, or opting out of following them. IGT or Indicazione Geografica Tipica simply indicates where the wine is from and the VdLT are wines like the “Super Tuscans” which mix international variety of grapes like Merlot with Sangiovese.
Speaking about the Super Tuscans, in 1995 some producers were coming out with wines made from 100% Sangiovese. Production of these reduced significantly after 2004.
The bus ride to the wine tasting site which was in the Barberino Val D’Elsa area brought us into the heart of Chianti country, an area of rolling hills, olive groves and vineyards. We stopped at Fattoria Sant’Appiano, a family owned winery, charmingly laid out on top of a hill, and were welcomed graciously by the present Dona of the Capelli family, the present owners of the vineyard and winery since 1960. The vineyards themselves, we were told were one of the oldest in existence and were originally owned by the Pitti family, whose patriarch, Luca Pitti (1398-1472) was a staunch supporter of Cosimo de’ Medici.
|One of the valves|
After four weeks, the skin etc. are separated by mechanical means, and the wine is transferred into the wine barrels made of different types of oak (from which the wine picks up some of its flavour and bouquet), where they remain for up to 24 months (for the Riserva). They also remain in the glass container for a while before it can be sold.
|Entering the wine cellar|
There were many enotecas lining this route, selling wine grown around the area and proudly sporting the black rooster. We entered one of them and bought some more wine, forgetting that we already had bought four bottles waiting for us on the bus. Carrying all that on the train back to Rome would be a problem, something we failed to consider at the time.