Frasca Hospitality Group, with the reputation of a phenomenal wine program, has endeavored to engage the community with a widely underestimated wine: Chianti, specifically, Chianti Classico. At the helm, master sommelier Bobby Stuckey has assembled a team to collaborate with Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico to present Frasca’s inaugural Festa del Chianti Classico, a weekend-long celebration.
The festival kicked off with a wine tasting seminar, led by Caterina Mori, a representative of the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico, in collaboration with Mr. Stuckey and Frasca’s prolific Wine Director Carlin Karr. Chianti Classico comes from an Italian region spanning Florence and Siena (two provinces and approximately 70,000 hectares). With a sampling of six different Chianti Classico selections, Ms. Mori provided a crash course on the sub-regional distinctions in terroir, improved production practices in this region over the past several decades, and the introduction of the consortium’s updated metrics of classification, Unità Geografiche Aggiuntive (Additional Geographical Units), or UGAs. All of these changes to the production of Chianti Classico are why wine from this region is making such a spectacular comeback.
To better understand the resurgence of Chianti Classico, look at the recent history, including the numerous steps that the Consortium has taken to revitalize quality and showcase the distinct characteristics of the region. Improvements arguably began in 1984, when Chianti Classico upgraded from the 1967 DOG status (Controlled Designation of Origin), to DOCG (Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin), to indicate the highest level of recognition for quality. In 1996, Sangiovese was identified as the leading grape for the region. This same year, Chianti Classico became an independent DOCG, separate from other Chianti wines. In 2005, production was further refined by banning white grapes from production and requiring Chianti Classico to comprise of minimum 80% Sangiovese grapes, with remaining 20% comprised of only authorized native/international varieties. In 2014, even more specified production requirements led to the creation of Gran Selezione, the top tier category of this region’s offerings. The introduction of UGAs are the Consorzio’s latest effort to elevate Chianti Classico.
UGAs aim to subcategorize Chianti Classico into 11 territories based on natural and human factors. Ms. Mori explained that natural factors include Aspect, Altitude, Varietals, and Clones. She continued, human factors take into consideration Tradition, History, Shared Knowledge, and Sense of community. Ms. Mori additionally presented the quality pyramid for further distinctions, as pictured below, to categorize Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, Riserva, and Annata.
A wine tasting immediately followed the seminar on Friday and Saturday, complete with 50+ wines from over 25 producers. Representatives lined the hall, some of whom hail from Tuscany, proudly promoting their family’s legacies.
To conclude each day’s festivities, Tavernetta’s executive Chef Cody Cheetham created a special four-course dinner menu, accompanied by various Chianti Classico selections, four wines per course. You can check out the menu and the dishes below.
Chianti Classico is a modern evolution. The people of this region take great pride in the history of this wine. All major changes in standards and practices made in the past couple decades have been decided with great reverence to the traditions of the past while refining the brand to create as distinct and impactful an identity as possible. The Frasca Hospitality Group, in partnership with Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico and the associated purveyors, have created a beautiful tribute to all of the spectacular wines that this region can offer. Hopefully, this Festa is the first of many!