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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Neil Beckett

The Chianti consorzio, which represents 1,700 growers in Italy's most famous DOCG, and those in all eight subzones except Chianti Classico, is attempting major changes in the production and promotion of the region's wines, explained consorzio president Luca Giannozzi at a press conference at the Italian Chamber of Commerce in London on 6 November. Acknowledging a need to make sure that we reflect the changing tastes of consumers', Giannozzi later revealed to Harpers that the maximum permitted proportion of international' or non-traditional' grape varieties would be raised from 10% to 15% for DOCG Chianti, and to 20% for the seven recognised subzones, in new legislation to be published early next year. (The seven subzones apart from Chianti Classico are Colli Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Senesi, Colline Pisane, Montalbano, Rufina and Montespertoli.) The Chianti Classico consorzio raised the level to 20% earlier this year. But in a significant departure from that precedent, the Chianti consorzio is limiting the proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to 10% (there is no such restriction in Classico).We want Chianti to remain Chianti,' declared Giannozzi. We will be allowed to have Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but they shouldn't be discernible.' Echoing the opinion of consultants such as Attilio Pagli and Luca d'Attoma, and of many leading producers as well, Giannozzi said that Cabernet Sauvignon becomes too dominant' at more than 10% of the blend, and doesn't combine so well with Sangiovese'. Partly in response to consumer demand, especially in Germany, for a colour deeper than is normally given by Sangiovese (at 75-100% of the blend), particularly when stretched by Malvasia and Trebbiano (at up to 10%), Giannozzi hopes to legislate against the continued use of white grapes as well. (They are currently permitted at up to 6% in Chianti Classico, but must be phased out there by 2005.)