Tuscany has been producing wine for a very long time - with the Etruscans making wine from the 8th century BC. Though it is this year 2016 that ‘Chianti Classico’ celebrates 300 years of history since the 25th September 1716. The Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo III de’ Medici decided to define the boundaries of selected areas for the production of quality wines, for the first time in history. The Grand Duke set the original 70,000 hectare Chianti boundary between the cities of Florence and Siena in a legally recorded document in 1716.
Found in the archives of the 'Castle of Brolio' were two preserved documents designated to Tuscany, the first laws regarding appellation of origin. The first document, dated 7th July 1716, was a mandate issued by the Grand Duke, establishing a ‘Congregation of Wine’.
The ‘Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico’ shows this year on its logo. The second document, dated 25th September 1716, (which this article and the celebration is referring to), is for the Consortium to confirm each wine is within the set boundaries for the production of wine and to set strict standards for the trade of these wines.
The Consortium was to oversee the registration of vineyards, the supervision of production, the declaration of sales, shipping and control fraud in the wine trade.
It was back in 1872 Baron Bettino Ricasoli, owner of ‘Castello di Brolio’ and second prime minister of the recently united Italy, described that Chianti wine should be made as a blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Malvasia grapes.
During the early part of the 20th century the popularity and demand for ‘Chianti Classico’ wines soared. The original production area could not keep up with this demand and imitation wines were made outside of the ‘Chianti Classico’ zone and so arrived on the market branded under the Chianti Classico name.
It was in 1924, when the ‘Consortium for the Protection of Chianti Wine’ and its ‘Trademark of Origin’ was established to protect the 'Chianti Classico' name, choosing the ‘Black Rooster’ as its emblem. This was the historic emblem of the ‘Lega Militare del Chianti’, reproduced by Giorgio Vasari in his Allegory of Chianti frescoed on the ceiling of the ‘Salone dei Cinquecento’ in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. And which is used on bottles today.
In fact, it was not until 1932 - that the adjective ‘Classico’ was added by ministerial decree to distinguish the original Chianti from the wine made outside the territory defined in 1716. Then in 1984, Chianti Classico received the D.O.C.G. status, the highest classification in Italian wine. Then in 1996 Chianti Classico became an independent D.O.C.G.
Then in 2010 a change in Italian law bans the production of ‘Chianti’ wine within the ‘Chianti Classico’ production zone. And most recently in 2013, the assembly of the ‘Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico’ members approved a set of changes to production regulations leading to a revamping of the denomination, and the ‘Gran Selezione’ was born.
So historically, it seems now to be agreed and supported by authentic documentation that Chianti Classico is the world's first exclusive protected vineyard ‘boundary’ area of production - introduced in Tuscany, Italy in 1716. And the first protected ‘wine classification system’ being in Tokaj-Hegyalja, Hungary starting in 1730.