Grapes of Chianti
The Grapes of Chianti
Chianti can be made from several grapes, but the Sangiovese grape is the most prominent at 75%-100% of the final blend.
Below is the insider recipe for what goes into that delicious Chianti wine in your glass:
The Chianti Recipe
SANGIOVESE (san-joh-VAY-zeh): The leading red grape in the Chianti blend.
Taste: Black cherry, violets, earth, spice, and herbs.
Likes: Basking in warm, continental climates; taking its sweet time to ripen; growing vigorously if not controlled.
Dislikes: Traveling, which is why you find the site-sensitive grape primarily in Tuscany.
CANAIOLO (cahn-eye-OH-loh): A native Italian red grape, which adds fruitiness and softening tannins to Chianti.
Taste: Plump, ripe strawberries, light herbaceousness, and leather notes.
Likes: Being resistant to drought and rot; mixing with Sangiovese to mellow out the final blend.
Dislikes: Grafting to American rootstock – when the phylloxera disease hit Tuscan vineyards in the 19th century, Canaiolo was resistant to the cure, which was to graft American rootstock to the plant.
CABERNET SAUVIGNON (cab-er-nay saw-vee-nyon): An international red grape variety, providing perfumed and complex notes to the Chianti blend.
Taste: Black currant, cedar, plum, black cherry, and cigar box.
Likes: Growing easily in any climate that is reasonably warm; making its way into red wine blends around the world.
Dislikes: Wet feet – the grape hates wet soil and loves warm, well-drained, gravel soils.
MERLOT (mer-loh): An international red grape that can make Chianti softer in flavor and more velvety in texture.
Taste: Plums, raspberry, prunes, and sometimes a little sweet spice.
Likes: Early budding and early ripening, which means it can tolerate cooler soil than its frequent companion, Cabernet.
Dislikes: Picking a single identity – Merlot is grown all over the world and expresses itself differently in different regions and terroirs.
SYRAH (see-rah): An international red grape that lends concentration and spice to Chianti.
Taste: Blackberries, woodsmoke, black pepper, chocolate, deep cherry.
Likes: Enjoying a good view – Syrah likes the spots at the tops of hills where there is less rich soil; being like Goldilocks – that is, it can’t be too hot or too cold where Syrah is grown.
Dislikes: When people confuse it with Petite Sirah – Petite Sirah doesn’t mean “Little Sirah”; it’s actually a different grape variety.
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