Wine Reviews Tasting Notes and Education for the Non-Snob, by Vino Joe, a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW)

Chianti Classico Production Code

Following are the rules for Chianti Classico production, taken verbatim from the Chianti Classico Consortium website.





The Chianti Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, accompanied by the specification Classico, hereafter known as Chianti Classico, is reserved to red wine that responds to the conditions and requirements stipulated in the present production code.


Chianti Classico wine must be obtained from grapes grown in the production zone delimited in Article 3 below and derived from vineyards having, within the estate framework, the following ampelographical composition: Sangiovese, from 80% to 100%. In addition, red grapes belonging to varieties recommended and authorized in the administrative districts of the production zone of the grapes set forth in Article 3 below, can be used in the production of the wine in a maximum ratio of 20% of the area entered on the vineyard register.

Until and including the 2005 harvest, the following varieties can be used in the production of the wine: Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia Bianca individually or together, to as much as 6%.


The production zone of Chianti Classico wine is the area delimited by the interministerial decree of July 31, 1932, and confirmed by Article 5 of DPR 930 of 7/12/1963, Article 3 of the DPR of August 9, 1067, Article 3 of the DPR of July 2, 1984, and Article 5 of Law 164 of 2/10/1992, and independently regulated by Article 5 of Law 164/92.

That zone is delimited as follows: “Beginning with a description of the boundaries of the part of this zone located within the province of Siena and starting at the point at which the borders between the provinces of Siena and Arezzo meet at the Borro Ambrella della Vena near Pancole in the commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga.

From that point, the border follows the torrent Ambra and one of its tributaries, not named, as far as the Ciarpella farm, then the mule track leading to the Casa al Frate farm. From there, it follows a virtually straight line as far as Ombrone (altitude of 298 meters or 977 feet).

The mule track descends to an altitude of 257 meters, where it meets a cart path leading to the road to Castelnuovo Berardenga. That road climbs to a height of 354 meters and then follows the Malena Morta ravine to its confluence with the Borro Spugnaccio. The border continues along the Malena Morta ravine to Pialli (227 meters) and then follows the Malena Viva for a short stretch before proceeding along a virtually straight line toward Santa Lucia (252 and 265 meters) and the Arbia. Upon reaching that torrent, the boundary follows the administrative border between the communes of Siena and Castelnuovo Berardenga.

The production zone’s boundary continues along the administrative borders of Siena, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Castellina, Monteriggioni and Poggibonsi until it encounters, at the Borro di Granaio, the confines of the province of Florence, which it follows as far as the Le Valli farm. Afterward, it follows the communal road, passing by San Giorgio and the Cinciano springs and continuing along that line until it rejoins the provincial border and the line between Poggibonsi and Barberino. It then follows the Drove torrent until it enters the province of Florence. At that point, the description is devoted to the part of the zone situated in the province of Florence. Initially, the boundary follows the Drove torrent as far as Mulino della Chiaia, where it meets the administrative line between the communes of Tavarnelle and Barberino, which it follows for a short distance. It then bends around toward the east along another small stream, passing Biricucci and Belvedere before reaching immediately afterward the San Donato-Tavarnelle road. It follows that road to Morocco and then traces a virtually straight line that, passing by Figlinella, reaches Sambuca and the Pesa torrent.

Still following the course of the torrent, the boudary parallels the administrative border between the communes of San Casciano Val di Pesa and Tavarnelle initially and then returns to the torrent after Ponte Rotto. From that point, the zone’s boundary coincides with the administrative confines of the communes of San Casciano and Greve.

The boundary of the Chianti Classico production zone then re-enters the province of Siena and follows the administrative borders of the communes of Radda in Chianti, Gaiole and, for a short distance, that of Castelnuovo Berardenga before reaching the point of departure of the description of this zone.


Environmental conditions and the methods used in cultivating vineyards that yield Chianti Classico wine must be those traditional in the zone and, in any case, uniquely those capable of providing grapes and the must and wine derived from them with specific qualitative characteristics.

Planting densities, training systems and systems of pruning must be such as not to modify the special characteristics of grapes and wine. In particular, all types training systems involving horizontal canopies of the tendon type are prohibited. All types of forcing are forbidden and the use of emergency irrigation is permitted.

Only vineyards that are located on the slopes of hills and are appropriately oriented are considered suitable for entry on the register. They must not be situated at altitudes above 700 meters and the soils must consist predominantly of sandstone, limestone, marl, clayey schist, sand and pebbles.

Vineyards situated in damp soils and on valley floors are considered unsuitable and cannot be entered on the said register. Terrains consisting predominantly of clay of the Pliocene and, in any case, markedly clayey are not suitable even if they are situated within the delimited zone.

For new plantings of vineyards suited to the production of Chianti Classico wine, the minimum density of rootstocks per hectare must be 3,350 (1,356 an acre), starting in the calendar year following the entry into effect of the present production code.

Maximum permitted production of grapes per hectare is 75 quintals (3.34 tons an acre) and the average yield per rootstock cannot in any case exceed 3 kilos (6.6 pounds).

In favorable vintages the quantity of grapes harvested and intended for the production of Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita wine must be reduced to the levels indicated above, provided that global production does not exceed those levels by 20% without prejudice to the limit on yield of wine from grapes for the stipulated quantities.

The maximum yield of wine from grapes cannot exceed 70%.

Whenever that yield exceeds the percentage indicated above but by no more than 75%, the excess has no right to the Denominazione di Origine Controllata; beyond that percentage, all the output loses the right to the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita.

The grapes destined to vinification can be subjected to prior selection, if necessary, in order to assure a wine with a minimum natural alcohol level by volume of 11.5%.

The vineyards can begin production of Chianti Classico wine only four years after planting.


Vinification operations must be carried out within the production zone delimited in Article 3 above.

However, the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Resources—National Committee for the Oversight and Promotion of the Denominations of Origin and Typical Geographic Indications of Wines—can authorize, on the basis of an inquiry conducted by the region of Tuscany, wineries situated outside the said territory, but no more than 10 miles by air from the confines of the zone and provided that such wineries were already in operation at the time this production code went into effect. And they must belong to establishments that vinify in them, individually or collectively, grapes suited to the production of Chianti Classico wine that were obtained from their own vineyards. Authorizations granted to date remain valid.

Operations involving preservation, bottling or bottle fining and aging must be carried out within the production zone.

However, such operations, even if conducted separately, are permitted with authorization of the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Resources—National Committee for the Oversight and Promotion of the Denominations of Origin and Typical Geographic Indications of Wines—by wineries that have been bottling Chianti Classico wine for at least five years prior to the date of the entry into effect of this production code and are situated in the provinces of Florence and Siena or bordering the same provinces within the framework of the region of Tuscany.

In vinification, only local, correct and consistent procedures permitted by prevailing regulations, including the traditional enological technique of the “governo all’uso toscano,” are authorized

Enrichment is permitted on conditions stipulated in European Community and national regulations provided that the maximum production of wine per hectare and the minimum natural alcohol level of the grapes, as indicated in Article 4, are respected.

Enrichment must be effected either with concentrated must produced with grapes originating in the production zone of Chianti Classico wine or with concentrated rectified must or grape sugar.

Chianti Classico wine can be issued for consumption no sooner than October 1 of the year following the harvest.

Chianti Classico wine that is to be issued as a Riserva can be released for consumption only after it has been subjected to at least 24 months of aging and bottle fining of at least 3 months. And it must develop a minimum total alcohol level of at least 12.5%.

The period of aging is calculated from the January 1 of the year following the harvest.


When it is released for consumption, Chianti Classico Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita wine must possess the following characteristics:

– Limpidity: limpid.

– Color: lively ruby-red tending to garnet with aging.

– Odor: vinous with scents of violets and a pronounced character of finesse in the aging phase.

– Flavor: harmonious, dry (with a maximum of 4 grams of reducing sugars per liter), sapid and lightly tannic, a sensation that fines in time, becoming velvety soft.

– The wine that has been prepared with the governo method is vivacious and rounded.

– Total minimum alcohol level by volume: 12%; for the Riserva, 12.5%.

– Minimum total acidity: 4.5 ppt.

– Minimum net dry extract 23 ppt.


In identifying Chianti Classico wine the term vigna (vineyard) can be used in accordance with Paragraph 3 of Article 6 of Law 2/10/1992, No. 164, on condition that it is followed by a corresponding place name, that the relative area is distinctly indicated on the vineyard register, that vinification and storage of the wine occur in separate containers and that the term, followed by the place name, has been reported, whether in the declarations of grapes harvested and wine produced or the registers and shipping documents.

The use of citations referring to personal or corporate names or individual or collective brand names that do not possess any laudatory significance or are not such as to mislead the consumer about the origin or nature of the product is permitted provided the specific regulations in effect are respected.

In addition, the use of terms referring to areas from which come the grapes used in making the wine is permitted on condition that such terms, different from the place names of vineyards, have been recognized in accordance with procedures stipulated by Law 2/10/1992, No. 164, and relative enabling decrees.

The year in which the grapes were produced must appear on the bottles or other containers in which the Chianti Classico wine is issued for consumption.

The addition to the label of any qualifications different from those stipulated in this production code, including such terms as “extra,” “fine,” “scelto,” “selezionato,” “superiore,” “vecchio” and similar expressions is forbidden.

The term Classico on the labels of wines responding to the requirements contained in this production code must always follow the word Chianti and it must be printed in typographical characters of the same size.

For wines produced in the territory specified in Article 3 and with the right to the Chianti DOCG accompanied by the specification Classico, the term Classico must follow the denomination of origin, Chianti, even in declarations of grapes harvested and wine produced and the registers and shipping documents.

Dispensation from that requirement is permitted when at the time of the declaration of the grapes or of the production of wine, as provided in Article 16 of Law 2/10/92, No. 164, or anyway by and not after December 15 of the same year of the harvest, the producer of the grapes or wine can renounce the right to the Classico specification. That renunciation, which is irrevocable, applies to all or part of the estate’s production and requires a separate annotation to the entry concerning the quantity and the containers in which the wine is preserved on the production register or shipping documents.

By the same deadline, December 15, the producer of the grapes and wine must communicate the extent of the said quantity to the Inspectorate for the Repression of Fraud and to the Chambers of Commerce, which maintain the Chianti Classico Register and are responsible for the territory.

The chemical-physical and sensory analyses stipulated in the first clause of Paragraph 1 of Article 13 of Law 2/10/1992, No. 164, for the quantity of Chianti Classico to which the renunciation of the term Classico refers, are carried out independently of the sensory examination for the DOCG in the bottling phase specified in the second clause of the same paragraph and in reference to the requirements specified for Chianti Classico.

For grapes of vineyards entered on the Chianti Classico register and the relative wines, a choice may be made at harvest and the wine may be reclassified as a DOC or IGT whenever the ampelographical base is compatible with prevailing regulations.


Chianti Classico wine can be released for consumption only in glass containers.

Whenever Chianti Classico wine is bottled in fiaschi (straw-wrapped bottles), any fiasco that is different from the type traditionally used in Tuscany is forbidden. The characteristics of the traditional fiasco are defined in Article 3 of the Decree of the President of the Republic (DPR), No. 162, of February 12, 1965. In addition, bottling in used fiaschi is absolutely forbidden.

Bottles or fiaschi containing Chianti Classico wine intended for sale must be appropriate, even in respect to shape and embellishments, to the traditional character of a premium wine.

In bottling Chianti Classico wine, corks must be used exclusively and they must be level with the lip. The only exceptions are containers with crown caps or twist-off caps with capacities up to a maximum of 250 milliliters.