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Chianti - the history of a wine

Its name derives from the Etruscan Clante-i, and it can be found mentioned for the first time in VIII century documents to define the territories of the Ancient Alliance, an administrative constituency including the present day towns of Radda, Gaiole and Castellina. From the XIX century the region extended as far as the valley of Greve and the valleys of the Pesa and the Arbia; in 1924 an "Association for the defence of typical Chianti wine and its mark of origin" was established which chose the coat of arms of the Ancient Alliance as its symbol: the Black Cock in a golden field.

The wine-making processes have not changed considerably over the years. Chianti is the result of a masterly blend of black and green grapes coded as follows by the founder of modern Chianti ecology
Bettino Ricasoli:

7/10ths of Sangiovese wine
which adds body and colour,
2/10ths of Canaiolo wine which
gives fragrance and mellowness;
1/10th of Trebbiano and Malvasia wines
which adds a slight touch of sourness and delicacy.

The grapes were crushed for three or four days and then after being left to settle for about twenty days, the wine was poured into the butts where it was refermentated with the addition of small quantities of selected and clean grapes which had been left to dry out on mats and wicker work trays; this operation increased its effervescent tone, colour, dry taste and alcohol degree.
The unity of the vine and the field maple (the Tuscan "loppo" tree), the latter which from time immemorial served as the vine's support and protected it from the summer heat and absorbed any excess dampness during prolonged rainfalls, now belongs to the past. Replacing the of the rows of vines supported by "loppo" on the borders of the fields are solid cement stakes.

Modernisation of viticulture has not however negatively influenced its production. It has probably improved its quality also thanks to the introduction of the obligation of the Designation of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin (DOCG). No more are the times in which the flasks were closely stacked onto a slimly built cart, as Imberciadori wrote: "almost to form a high pyramid of 600-800 flasks …. and when the horses moved it looked like they were carrying a monument around" . Now the typical flask
which gave a touch of unique colour, but is too expensive, has been replaced by a Bordeaux type bottle and a "toscanella" (Tuscan style bottle) which can fit more easily into the modern line of bottling and labelling.