Allegrini 2018

Quality, identity, territoriality, enhancement: the keys for the growth of Chianti Classico

From the “Chianti Classico Collection” the reflections of the producers, custodians of one of the most beautiful wine territories in the world

From Giotto’s Bell Tower to the Torre del Mangia, from Piazza Della Signoria to Piazza del Campo, Chianti Classico, simply one of the most beautiful wine territories in the world, runs between Renaissance Florence and Medieval Siena, for its 70,000 hectares of woods and hills, and 7,200 hectares of vineyards among small villages, churches, and castles that draw the beauty of the Black Rooster. Ancient territory, where vineyards and cellars exude history, among ancient castles and modern wine cathedrals. A territory, the Chianti Classico, which is a centuries-old and living history of great wine dynasties, from the Antinori to the Corsini, from the Frescobaldi to the Ricasoli, to name the most famous, but also a present made up of many different realities, large and small, old and new, which not only maintain it but make it more and more beautiful, projecting it into modernity. A territory that lives a great present, which in terms of numbers means a slight growth in sales in 2019 over 2018, which seem to have the wind in the sails also in 2020 (+10% in January over the same month 2019), grape prices up 10%, and especially the two most valuable types, Gran Selezione and Riserva, which are worth 42% in volume and 55% in turnover, with a value of the economy of the Chianti Classico area estimated at 800 million euros, half of which from bottled wine production. An ancient territory, therefore, with a solid present, and that, from the “Chianti Classico Collection”, in Florence, at Stazione Leopolda, with over 200 producers and their wines, looks at its future, which according to the producers it is made of ever-increasing quality, a more detailed territoriality of the wines, and also an even stronger storytelling on the world markets (130 countries reached by the bottles of the Black Rooster), which says loud and clear that Chianti Classico is today one of the most important wines in the world, which does not fear comparison with anyone.
“The future passes by the continuous research for the best possible quality - comments Giovanni Manetti, president of the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium and owner of the Fontodi brand - and on this, there is maximum sharing and cohesion on the policies of the Consortium. For us, quality means more and more authenticity and territoriality, it means producing wines of great character that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world. We have to transfer the territory inside the bottle, expressing all the diversity, like a precious stone that reflects the light from all its facets”.
“We must show the many excellences of our territory, not only with the Gran Selezione, which is growing with great success but also those small jewels on which many producers rely, single vineyards, Sangiovese in purity produced on different soils and so on, it will be the differences that will make Chianti Classico recognized in the world as a great excellence”, says Francesco Ricasoli, of the historic Barone Ricasoli.
“The projects that are needed to make Chianti Classico grow are already underway,” says Stefano Capurso, general manager of Dievole, one of the most important wineries in the area, owned by Argentine oil tanker Alejandro Bulgheroni. “I’m thinking, for example, of the Gran Selezione, which after some skepticism led 116 producers to introduce it and which is worth more and more. The future are the Additional Geographical Units, which serve to add value to brands, linking them to more specific areas. It will be the one that will take Chianti Classico to an even higher level”.
“Quality is now a fixed point for many companies - underlines Marco Pallanti of the famous Castello di Ama - Chianti Classico is one of the “best buys” at an international level, it is bought at prices still below the quality of the wine. So I would talk about the promotion of image, we must say that we are “good, beautiful and good”, because it is not yet perceived by everyone, there is still confusion between Chianti and Chianti Classico, which is something that damages us. We have to separate these two denominations more and more and invest in the image”.
“We must never feel that we have arrived - adds Albiera Antinori, at the helm of Marchesi Antinori, one of the most important names in Italian wine - there is still a lot to be done on many fronts, on the theme of quality, the identity of Sangiovese, wine tourism, promotion on international markets, we cannot stop at anything, those who stop are lost, we have to go on.
“We are in one of the most beautiful areas of Tuscany - comments Duccio Corsini, exponent of one of the oldest families of the Florentine nobility and guide of Villa Le Corti-Principe Corsini - and surely the road made so far has been good. We must continue on this path, perhaps doing fewer things but done even better. We need a greater promotion of the territory, which means telling how we live there, what what is cultivated and how, in our case, grapes and wine, but not only, because there is a complete agricultural tissue. And then focus on hospitality, which is perhaps what the famous Chianti Classico has made before others. I think of the past and the British with the “Chianti Shire”: perhaps this concept should be relaunched with a more qualitative key, and speaking to a wider audience”.
“I believe a lot in Chianti Classico, I was born in it, for us Nozzole is the largest of our companies - explains Giovanni Folonari of the historic Tenute Folonari - and the one we invest the most in. I’m glad to see that the work done by us and other producers who believe as we do is paying off, light years have passed since we put 20% of white grapes in the Chianti Classico or the fiasco. Today we make great wines that are not afraid to face any of the great wines of Tuscany and the world. We still have to take many steps forward, the first was the Gran Selezione. Our problem is that our image is perhaps not transmitted clearly, many still make a difference between Chianti Classico and Chianti, we must differentiate ourselves more and more”.
“Investing in terroir, people and technology, which can help so much. Then there is territory and territory, the positive thing is that quality grows, every year, year after year there are better and better wines, and this is good for the territory. We are talking about Chianti Classico, we are talking about Chianti Classico, let's distinguish it from Chianti, otherwise, there is a lot of confusion, because they are very different things,” says Stefano Marzotto of the Santa Margherita Group, which owns the Lamole di Lamole label.
“The future is quality, in all its forms - adds Paolo De Marchi, at the helm of the iconic Isole and Olena - starting from the identification of the smallest territorial forms within the Chianti Classico. The denomination is Chianti Classico, we must focus on the differences. The great wine areas of the world are all like this, they are all based on the differences within the individual territories. The goal to make Chianti Classico grow is quality, which is also production and commercial correctness”.
“Chianti Classico certainly has the lights on, but even today it is still under-represented in terms of the real quality of its products,” says Filippo Mazzei, at the helm of Castello di Fonterutoli, “in my opinion, the first thing to do is to communicate well what we are doing. I think that today Chianti Classico should aim to be more market-oriented and have the courage to position itself higher up so that there is a positive return for everyone. Often producers are perhaps not very courageous: there are some movements that in recent periods are very interesting in terms of niches, prices are rising, we need to become aware of them and move forward”.
“In recent years, Chianti Classico has grown a lot thanks to very important investments that have been made by all the companies in the Chianti Classico area, especially in the vineyards but also in the cellar, in short, to be able to enhance everything that our vineyards could give us. We must make our wines more and more known, which in my opinion are exceptional and have nothing to envy to any other wine in Italy or the world. By focusing strongly on the Gran Selezione, and by investing in the markets, both mature and emerging ones,” says Sergio Zingarelli, who at the helm of the Rocca Delle Macìe label.
“Surely one of the elements that our territory will have to take into account in the short term is climate change. I think that a response of consortium and territory policies to this new challenge is an element of added value for the whole territory and in particular for our sector, which is that of quality viticulture”, adds Tommaso Marrochesi Marzi, at the head of Bibbiano.
“In my opinion, it is very important to increase the identity awareness, also of the micro-identity of the areas, and therefore to work a lot on the identification of the areas and the differences, to give more strength to the territory, a very wide, very vast territory, which needs a lot to be looked more specifically, therefore talking about the areas, the municipalities is very important”, adds Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti, at the helm of Badia a Coltibuono, while for Alessandra Casini Bindi Sergardi of the Bindi Sergardi winery, we must “talk about the richness of our territory through a more accurate description of the entity and the historical villages, this is the most important project on which the whole Chianti Classico is working, and I think that giving more information and telling about diversity is a winning card”.
A Chianti Classico that, therefore, to continue to grow in the chessboard of the great wines of the world must focus on its greater appreciation, recounting its many diversities. But even in the Black Rooster, as in other territories of the Region, people are starting to think about whether the word “Tuscany”, in itself one of the strongest brands made in Italy and beyond, could be an added value on the label (as made by Vino Nobile di Montepulciano) for the Black Rooster or not. A theme that, to date, is not a priority in Chianti Classico, according to many producers already a very strong brand of its own. But for the most part, the hypothesis, in the future, to add “Tuscany” on the labels of Chianti Classico, could help, especially in new markets, although there is no lack of those who emphasize that, even before thinking of a similar step, the contours of the IGT Toscana (for which an ad hoc consortium was born) should be better defined, avoid confusion.

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