Over the last fifteen years a revolution in quality has propelled the Chianti Classico appellation back to the forefront of Italian winemaking and it is now widely acknowledged that these famed Tuscan hills provide some of the best wines in Europe, especially when it comes to price-quality ratio.
In 2013 structural changes were made to the DOCG and we saw the introduction of a Gran Selezione category, the first significant deviation from Italy’s quality system since it began. Initially there was skepticism, but over the last few years the concept has become familiar to merchants and consumers and there is now a sense that the Gran Selezione idea has provided a framework through which to showcase the best aromas and flavours of Sangiovese from the historic nine villages of the Chianti Classico area.
Gran Selezione wines are produced exclusively from estate-grown grapes. In the vineyard they require stricter yields than standard Chianti Classico. These wines tend to originate from the winery’s best parcels and the result is often a prestigious wine capable of evolution over many years. In the cellar too there are stricter rules to follow. Gran Selezione wines must be aged for a minimum of thirty months. Although contact with wood is not obligatory, most producers choose to age their wines in large botti.
Typically the wines are structured and capable of ageing many years, demonstrating a fine balance between fruit, freshness and the complex nuances of Sangiovese. Many producers believe that a Gran Selezione should be a pure expression of Sangiovese, but a handful choose to complement the variety with other grapes such Malvasia Nera, Ciliegiolo or even international names like Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot.