A few weeks ago I had the privilege of participating in a chianti seminar in New York sponsored by the Consortium of Chianti Producers. At that seminar we tasted through 6 different styles of chianti, from the original to modern versions. My personal preference- remember, your tastes may like something else- was for the chianti that was made the tradtional way: with sangiovese of course, but with only local red varieties and a touch of white grapes. Some of the more ‘modern’ versions had higher percentages of sangiovese- one even was 100%- but I liked the one done the old-fashioned way.
Now here I am in Tuscany and during the week had the opportunity to taste the whole gamut and my conclusion: I liked the chiantis with a touch of white grapes. I think the white grapes round out the structure and subdue the natural fruitiness of sangiovese. The problem is: very few producers will tell you what grapes they’ve used in the blend.
Experiment: I do want you to try the experiment at home or with friends: go to a reputable wine merchant and ask for a few different styles of chianti, with one having some trebbiano, the usual white grape. Taste the wines blind and find out for yourselves which style you prefer. Feel free to post your findings and thoughts below in the comments area.
When all is said and done, tasting chianti in Tuscany is the apogee but tasting chianti at home is better than not tasting it at all.