Chianti - The Popular Italian


Photography by Thomas M Perkins/



Photography by Gianluca Figliola Fantini/


Curvy roads, breathtaking hillside vineyards, olive groves, cypress trees, medieval castles, restored farm houses, and historic villages all complement the breathtaking terroir that produces Chianti, the quintessential Italian red wine that pairs perfectly with pasta, pizza, and other Italian favorites.

From grapes grown in the heart of Tuscany, Chianti is a voluminous and widely sold wine. It is made in eight district zones of neighboring areas that cover a vast territory around the original center of Chianti Classico production. Not only has packaging changed from straw-covered flasks to modern, state-of-the-art bottles, but there have also been other changes since the early 1980s. These include innovative vintners using new wine-making techniques and recent upgrades in quality assurance with DOCs (controlled designation of origin) and DOCGs (controlled designation of origin guaranteed). DOCG wines are government tasted and analyzed, and bottles have numbered government seals on the cap or cork. Produced from Sangiovese grapes, the most popular grape varietal in Tuscany, Chianti has various styles and tastes partly due to the many diverse micro climates of long hot days and cool nights, typical effects of a Mediterranean climate. Some Chiantis are smooth and round, easy to drink young; others need years to develop the aromas and flavors distinctive of aged Tuscan reds. The wines show a deep ruby-garnet color and present a light to medium body with cherry and cranberry as leading flavors, but you can find cocoa, espresso, tobacco, and oak in older vintages. These characteristics can confuse Chianti wine drinkers. Below I make some recommendations detailing varieties and distinctive traits.

Now that harvest season has arrived, it is a great time to discover and enjoy the lovely tastes of Chianti and Chianti Classico. Look for vintages three to five years old. For more intense flavors or cellaring, try wines five to 15 years old. Salute!

These wines are easy to find in retail stores around New Hampshire, including the New Hampshire State Liquor Commission (NHSLC) wine outlets. Prices range from $9.99 to $30. 

2009 Biagio Chianti
Produced near the landmark Leaning Tower of Pisa, this is simple, light-bodied Chianti with lots of cherry and cranberry fruit flavors. Serve with pizza, spaghetti marinara, eggplant and chicken parmigiana, or on its own.

2007 DaVinci Chianti
A popular wine found on many restaurant wine lists. This is delightful medium-bodied Chianti with flavors of cherry and an array of red fruits that continue throughout the glass, finishing with a bit of pepper. Enjoy with appetizers, fruit salads, pasta, and meat dishes.

2007 Poggio Amorelli Chianti Classico
A modern style wine showing deep ruby color with aromas of violets and vanilla. A full-bodied wine with flavors of black cherry and raspberries, embracing a pleasing balance between softness, acidity, and tannins. Perfect with grilled meats.

2007 Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva
From a boutique winery rich in history with vineyards producing some of the finest wine in Tuscany, this is a very fruit forward wine with lots of cherry and dark berry, as well as touches of oak and spice. A good choice for fish and meat stews.

2007 Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia
Harvested by hand from a single vineyard. Brilliant, rich, ruby red color with floral notes and traces of wild berry lead to some spicy tastes together with cocoa and dusty oak. A dense wine with soft, youthful tannins and excellent overall character. Aging seven to 10 years is suggested.

2007 Banfi Vintners Chianti Classico Riserva
From one of the oldest family producers in Italy and fast becoming a worldwide powerhouse. This is a perfectly balanced wine showing a deep ruby in color with a rich bouquet of cherries and plums, leading to flavors of dark cherry and leather and a lingering finish. Works well with a wide variety of foods, including pasta, grilled meats, roasts, and aged cheeses.

2008 Castello di Verrazzano Chianti Classico
A classic wine made in an old world style with deep purple color, aromas of roses, and flavors of cherry, raspberry, blackberry, and oak. Very crisp, balanced, and structured.  Highly recommended for wine aficionados. The winery and the bridge in New York City are named after explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano. A good choice for antipasto, chicken, and steak.

2008 Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva
From grapevines found at Castello di Nipozzano, this wine shows a deep rose red color with aromas and flavors of ripe cherry, raspberry, plum, chocolate, and coffee with a touch of spice. This delicate, smooth, lively wine is well balanced and holds an endless finish. Serve with barbecued meat and beef.


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