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How Chianti Classico Enters the Movie Biz with the Black Rooster

The Chianti Classico Collection 2023 just took place a month ago, and the Chianti Classico consortium was on a roll. It was a well-attended Anteprima (preview tasting) after the reduced events during the last three years due to the pandemic, and the good mood was on top. In an article on the blog of Fattoria di Montemaggio last month, I wrote about how the Chianti Classico brand value and sales have been growing steadily during the last few years. In 2022 the sales increased by 17% compared to 2021, and by 46% compared to 2020. The top-tier level Chianti Classico Gran Selezione is attracting the most interest from consumers helping to strengthen the brand.

What about the Black Rooster short film then?

The Chianti Classico Collection was also the big premiere for the Legend of the Black Rooster film. The consortium commissioned a local web and video production agency to develop the manuscript and shoot the film. Apart from the actors hired, several local people, also some producers, had walk-on parts (for example, Lorenzo Sieni from Montefioralle Winery*). The short film is yet another step in how the consortium is working to both increase visibility and brand value.

The story is a legend but, still, it plays an important part in telling the story of the Gallo Nero (Black Rooster), the emblem of the consortium. The Republic of Florence and the Republic of Siena decided to settle the border between them by having two knights from the respective city-states race against each other. The border would be defined on the spot where the two knights met.

The Senese people chose a white rooster that they fed very well and treated like a king while the Florentines chose a black rooster that they starved into desperation. Both city-states were convinced to have chosen the perfect rooster to wake them up early in the morning.

What happened then?

Well, the black rooster was so hungry that he started crowing before dawn and woke up the Florentine rider very early. He jumped onto the horse and started riding…

The white rooster felt very pampered and content and slept in, and started to crow very late thus waking up the rider Senese after dawn.

The result was that the rider Senese barely made it out in the countryside before he met the Florentine rider. The border was, therefore, drawn just where the Fonterutoli estate is located today.

The area defined in the Middle Ages is to some extent the area of Chianti Classico still today.

Chianti Classico’s Zoning System – UGA

The Chianti Classico region was officially divided into 11 villages or Additional Geographical Units (UGA) in 2021. Each subzone has its own micro-terroir that distinguishes its Chianti Classico wines. At the Chianti Classico Collection during the last two years, it has been possible to taste the wines showcased according to the 11 different subzones.

Some say it is a successful zoning system that makes it easier for each subzone to stand out and be understood. Others argue that it has made it even more complicated for the general consumer.

I believe it has made it easier to understand the location and its characteristics as regards micro-climate and terroir.

Read more about Chianti Classico in this old article: Val delle Corti – A Love at First Sight.

3 Wines Tasted at the Chianti Classico Collection 2023

I have chosen only three wines as a small insight into the Chianti Classico Collection 2023. I am not very into making long lists with reviews of all the wines, I prefer to trace connecting thoughts.

The weather conditions in 2021 were, in general, quite balanced and satisfactory despite the frost in April that affected part of Tuscany and Umbria and was devastating for France. One producer in Radda has deemed 2021 the best vintage for quite some time.

Chianti Classico Annata 2021 Cigliano di Sopra

This Annata 2021, 100% Sangiovese, from Cigliano di Sopra, San Casciano in Val di Sopra, that I tasted at the CCC23 was clean and linear with lovely and intense notes of red and darker fruit, violet, and herbs like a mix of medicinal and field herbs. The freshness, like a breeze of fresh air, combined with structure made it into a young but juicy and very pleasant Chianti Classico wine.

This is an estate that dates to Medieval times but today it is run by two enologists Maddalena Fucile and Matteo Vaccari. An earlier generation of Maddalena’s family bought the estate in 1939. Today, they are organically certified and make low-intervention wine.

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2019, Isola delle Falcole, Greve in Chianti

This is 100% Sangiovese Chianti Classico Gran Selezione that has undergone wild fermentation in steel tanks and matured for 24 months in big French oak casks. Isola delle Falcole is a fairly young winery, it was started in 2015 by three friends Emanuele Graetz, Alessandro Manelli, and Niccoló Righini. They started out with 1 hectare between Panzano and Montefioralle and then bought 2,5 additional hectares in the same location in 2018.

I had never tasted their wines before so it was a new discovery. This year they were showcasing their wines under the Montefioralle UGA, but they told me that they last year had been under the Panzano UGA.

Their Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2019 spoke to me for its pure and vertical feeling of Sangiovese. It had balanced notes of red fruit, herbal, smooth tannins, and structure. A top-tier Chianti Classico wine that is just so easy and pleasant to sip on.

Chianti Classico Annata 2021 Montesecondo, San Casciano Val di Pesa

This is a traditional blend of mainly Sangiovese with a small addition of Canaiolo and Colorino where half of the juice has been matured in medium-sized barrels and half in cement tanks. It was a bit closed on the nose at first but then notes of red fruit such as sour cherry came out followed by something sweet as well as spicy. On the palate, it stepped up to another level with its acidity, juicy fruit, good grip yet smooth, but still a bit nervous tannins. Very charming character.

The owner of Montesecondo, Silvio Messana, started the winery in San Casciano Val di Pesa in 2000. He started out organic and is now also biodynamic making low-intervention wines with wild fermentations and trying out cement and amphora for the maturation of the juice.

Chianti Classico 2021, Tenuta di Lilliano, Castellina in Chianti

Last year, when the dinners in connection to the Chianti Classico Collection were organized in different restaurants around town, I was at the same table as Alessandro Ruspoli of Tenuta di Lilliano and a couple of other producers at Essenziale restaurant. Alessandro had brought his wines and I really liked them. This year, I stopped by his stand together with a friend and we tasted the Chianti Classico 2021 among other of his wines.

Their Chianti Classico is a blend of 90% Sangiovese, 5% Colorino, and 5% Merlot. It undergoes fermentation in cement tanks and then it matures partly in big oak casks and partly in cement. It is a fresh, mineral, and smooth Chianti Classico with notes of both red fruit and flowers, and a slightly spicy and herby undertone.

Tenuta di Lilliano dates to the Middle Ages and has changed owners several times through the centuries. In 1920, the estate was bought by the Ruspoli Berlingieri family and they started to bottle their wine and become more commercial thanks to princess Eleonora Ruspoli Berlingieri. Today, the estate is run by Giulio and Pietro Ruspoli, and their nephew Alessandro Ruspoli who takes care of the commercial side.

*I collaborate with Montefioralle winery and Fattoria di Montemaggio as a content creator and writer.

Katarina Andersson

Seen often at wine events streaming live, Katarina is a wine writer, wine educator, social media strategist, and translator. She is the founder of WinesOfItaly LiveStream. She has been a guest at The Cellar, hosted by Richard Glover, at Wine Two Five, a podcast hosted by Stephanie Davis and Valerie Caruso, and at the Twitter chat #WiningHourChat founded by Li Valentine.

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