Once ranked alongside the world’s greatest wines, Chianti has recently been shunned by collectors.

Online fine wine seller, Liv-Ex founder Justin Gibbs says,  “We suspect that, because it provides relative value, people buy it and drink it rather than taking an investment view – thus reducing secondary market activity.”

Often depicted as a folksy red in a straw-covered bottle, Chianti long enjoyed wide popularity that was both a blessing and a curse.

Investors saw Tuscany as a romantic land with unlimited potential. And this investment initiated Tuscan wine’s ascent to the top tables.

But more glamorous wines like Montalcino’s Casanova di Neri Brunello and Bolgheri’s Tenuta Dell’Ornellaia outpaced Chianti as wine aficionados looked for richer, more intense wines, spurred on by high scores from critics.

Collectors bought into the concept of prestige. Wines from Montalcino and Bolgheri fitted right in. Chianti lagged behind.


Provenance uncertain

“Chianti suffers from a ‘been there/done that’ syndrome,” says Gerald Weisel, proprietor of Weimax Wine & Spirits, in Burlingame, California, who caters to a clientele ranging from high-tech Silicon Valley savants to an old-guard cadre of San Francisco collectors.

The biggest problem for Chianti was the vineyards, where many of the vines were of uncertain origin, he says.

The Chianti Classico 2000 Project selected eight clones (from hundreds), to bring Chianti Classico into the future.

“By the end of this decade,” says Master Sommelier Tim Gaiser, “over 50 percent of all the vineyards in Chianti Classico will have the new clones. It is a huge jump in quality.”

Further, the Chianti Classico Consortium recently overhauled the denomination by adding a top-tier level, Gran Selezione, in direct competition with Brunello and Super Tuscans.

Fewer than 100 wineries on board.

Classic comeback

What made Chianti Classico ‘classic’ in the historical sense ̶ location, grape and method ̶ is what should be bringing Chianti back into the sights of shrewd collectors.

But new tastes and fashions still have the upwardly mobile crowd choosing Brunello and Super Tuscans over Chianti Classico. Darrell Corti is a Chianti world expert who believes there’s a shift on the horizon.

“Chianti, especially Chianti Classico, has gone from being a label to a wine that’s been transformed – in some instances, modified greatly from ‘what it’s supposed to be’,” says Corti.

“And now I think it’s coming back because all the red wine in the world can’t smell like Cabernet or Merlot.”

When wine styles turned towards power, richness and intensity and supplanted wines that were more restrained and classic, Chianti was nudged out of the limelight.

But now there are signs of tastes turning again toward wines that more genuinely reflect where they come from.

That promises to lift Chianti out of the shadows to recapture its moment in the sun. Chianti producers are hoping!


See more at: http://www.lepanmedia.com/chianti-the-land-that-wine-collectors-forgot/