There has been so much exciting news from Chianti Classico this past year, and rather than tell it all here, I will endeavor to chronicle events as they play out over the next few years. This is a dynamic and fluid appellation that deftly reinvents itself at a fast pace thanks to forward-looking leadership and a mostly like-minded group of producers.
The biggest news is the introduction of the UGAs (Unità Geografiche Aggiuntive), which were approved by appellation authorities in 2021 and should be completely in vigor within three years of that date. In a first phase, a UGA will only be applied to the Chianti Classico Gran Selezione category but will soon thereafter apply to the whole appellation.
Tuscany’s Black Rooster appellation is Italy’s most dynamic wine region by far. The area counts 7,000 hectares of Chianti Classico vines and an annual production of up to 38 million bottles exported to 160 countries. According to the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico, 52.5% of the vineyards and two-thirds of the wineries are organic. What is a UGA? In short, it is an “additional geographic unit,” or an official subzone of the denomination to be clearly marked on the label. It tells you exactly where the wine comes from. Eleven UGAs have been created: San Casciano, Greve, Montefioralle, Lamole, Panzano, Radda, Gaiole, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Vagliagli, Castellina and San Donato in Poggio.
I have already worked to describe the characteristics of these subzones in past articles, and there is still much work left to do. Instead of dedicating more words to these subzones in this article, I’d like to focus on a few of the faces, some new and some familiar, that embody the true diversity of Chianti Classico.
Fattoria La Massa
It’s fitting that Giampaolo Motta would offer to cook up a quick plate of puttanesca after a long afternoon of wine tasting. The dish is spicy, requires a good bit of stirring and shaking and leaves you feeling a bit naughty. These are all qualities I would assign to a visit at Fattoria La Massa in Panzano in Chianti. This is surely one of the most electric wineries in Italy, and the secret sauce is chef Motta.
The property covers 27 hectares at the far end of the Conca d’Oro, with vines between 320 and 450 meters in elevation. The soils are mostly clayey with shards of schistous galestro throughout. Indeed, graphite or lead pencil-like aromas are a defining characteristic of these elegant wines. Stylistically speaking, Giampaolo is highly influenced by Bordeaux, and that strong imprint is always present.
Never one to sit still, Giampaolo tells me about his new projects. He just planted a new 2.2-hectare vineyard to Cabernet Sauvignon for a future undisclosed project that seems to evoke great excitement in Giampaolo. He also unveiled a new wine in 2019 dedicated to his mom, who passed away that same year. It is a 100% Merlot called Asiram. Because Fattoria La Massa trades some of its new releases on the Place de Bordeaux, you’ll find that reviews of his flagship Giorgo Primo (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot) have already been published.