What is the difference between Chianti and Chianti Classico?

What is the difference between Chianti and Chianti Classico?

Angelica Nohra 

Wine Importer | Wine List Consultant | Speaker   

I was in a bottleshop recently and while in the Italian Wine section, I heard someone say to his friend "Oh, that's the one with the rooster on it, get that! The rooster means it's good!" 

The Italian Wine lover in me shuddered and wanted to say something but I have  learned not to express my thoughts too liberally in public spaces. 

There seems to be a misconception in Australia that the Black Rooster means the Chianti is better. I'm here to dispel that misconception. 

The Black Rooster is the symbol of Chianti Classico DOCG. A red ring around it means it's a regular Chianti Classico and a Gold Ring around it means it's a reserve. 

Chianti DOCG is still good and worth drinking. It's just a different style of wine. 

To understand the difference, it's important to understand in the 80s, with the rise of Chianti globally, the government wine authority expanded the region of Chianti from the 'classic' region to approximately 7200ha. Once upon a time, Chianti was reserved for the Sangiovese planted between Florence and Chianti. Right now, the Chianti Classico region is only 260 square kilometres.

How did the Chianti Classico get the Black Rooster? It's a fabulous story of battle between Florence and Siena. When trying to claim more land, the two cities would have a horse rider wake early and gallop as far as they could before meeting their counterpart. Wherever they would meet, a new border would be drawn. 800 years ago, the Siena people chose a white rooster to wake their rider. The Florence people chose a black rooster. They starved the black rooster during the day so it woke and cawed cranky and annoyed with starvation earlier than the well fed white rooster of Siena. This woke the Florence team's rider earlier than the Siena teams rider so he rode through and made more territory then the Siena side could. 

The rooster was adopted as an official emblem by the League of Chianti in 1384, and officially adopted by the Chianti Classic Wine Consortium in 2005.

THAT's why Chianti Classico has a black rooster on it. It has nothing to do with the quality of the wine. 

Both Chianti and Chianti Classico must have at least 80% sangiovese and 12%ABV. 

Classico also tends to be dryer, more herbaceous and leathery compared to a fruity, 'adult ribena' style of Chianti. Some people like Chianti, some prefer Classico. I prefer Chianti Classico riserva which spends 2 years in barrel before release! It's got all of the secondary characters I love. 

What's your favourite?

Chianti VS Chianti Classico

Try them both and see which you prefer?

Sensi "Collezione" Chianti DOCG

Not like the Chianti in the 1980s, this New World Style has an intense red colour, a good body, a long tasting bouquet of cherry and spice.

Sensi "Forziere" Chianti Classico Riserva 2013 DOCG

Sensi "Forziere" Chianti Classico Riserva has a dark red color, leaning towards garnet with aging.

It has a full body and structure, with traces of mature fruit of a velvety taste with soft tannins.

The Riserva quality must undergo ageing for at least 24 months, followed by a bottle finish-ageing of minimum 3 months.

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1 comment
  • Hi can I get the price of the Black Rooster Classico Reservation per bottle please. We were in Tuscany in 2019 and visited the winery at Chianti the red we had was the best. Thanks John.

    John on

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