Italy has hundreds of native grapes. They are known as autochthonous grapes, found from region to region. One of Italy’s most famous wines, Chianti, contains a number of local, native grapes. Many consumers know Sangiovese as the primary grape used in Chianti. The percentages of grapes depend on the particular appellation where winemakers produce the wine.
Red grapes of Chianti
The most commonly used local red grapes in Chianti wine include Sangiovese with colorino, canaiolo, merlot or cabernet sauvignon. Within the two Chianti DOCG appellations, Chianti Classico DOCG wine is the one that uses a greater percentage of sangiovese than Chianti DOCG wines. Although the minimum percentage of sangiovese in Chianti Classico is 80%, many producers use higher amounts, even 100% sangiovese.
Over 80 percent of Tuscany’s grapes are red and it’s no surprise that Sangiovese leads the way with 80% of the production. Although Sangiovese grape grows in other regions of Italy, Tuscany is its true home. Sangiovese is used also for the famous tuscan wine Brunello di Montalcino, that according to their disciplinary has to be done with 100% of Sangiovese grape and at least 70% di Sangiovese is the rule for making the Nobile di Montepulciano wine. Morellino di Scansano is made with Sangiovese grape as well.
Sangiovese displays characteristics of high acidity, tannin with cherry, plum, violet notes and a very light color. In the past, in the Chianti region, winemakers used to use Canaiolo in higher percentages than they do now. In fact, in order to soften wines, winemakers mostly use Canaiolo. Colorino, another blending partner, helps to deepen the color of the Sangiovese wine.
White grapes of Chianti
Chianti vs. Chianti Classico are the only areas that permit white native grapes. These grapes include Trebbiano toscano and Malvasia bianca, allowing a maximum of 2% only in the Chianti Colli Fiorentini. They are forbidden in Chianti Classico. Many wineries don’t use these grapes too often anymore. Trebbiano is the most widely planted white grape found in Tuscany. It’s a highly productive grape that is rather neutral producing light and crisp wines. Due to its higher acidity quality, producers use Trebbiano grapes to blend other grapes. As well as Trebbiano, winemakers use Malvasia bianca grapes in blends. It is preferable for its aromatics, flavors and body. Nowadays these two grapes are used mainly for making the famous sweet wine Vinsanto