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The War of the Great Selection

The War of the Great Selection

The Chianti Consortium approves the Great Selection and the Chianti Classico Consortium, which created this type in 2014 is angry


di Donatella Cinelli Colombini

I must say that I have vineyards of Chianti both at the Fattoria del Colle di Trequanda and at Casato Prime Donne di Montalcino. I am therefore involved in the dispute “Gran selezione” with a clear advantage to produce this premium type with my grapes.


Putting aside the personal interest I try to look at the whole affair objectively, noting how risky it can be and in some respects counterproductive for Tuscan wine, which is going through a complicated period with declining sales and starving exports.
For years I have been witnessing with regret the difficulties of dialogue between the Chianti and Chianti Classico consortia. I had hoped that with the constitution of the IGT Toscana consortium led by the very good Cesare Cecchi and the equally capable director Campatelli, the reasons for friction were overcome. All Tuscan consortia meet in AVITO and also have a body with which they collectively organize participation in Prowein.



For this reason I was astonished, on the occasion of the last Vinitaly, to hear the voices related to the creation of a Gran Selezione typology for Chianti.
I spoke with the President of Chianti Giovanni Busi and invited him to reflect on the possible effects of such an initiative. I also told the director of Chianti Classico Lawyer Carlotta Gori suggesting that she negotiate beforehand a shared solution.
Instead things went on and the assembly of the Chianti Consortium approved with 96% of votes in favour, the amendment of the specification with the introduction of the Grand Selection.
The reaction of the neighbours of Chianti Classico arrived to the newspapers immediately after and President Giovanni Manetti, famous and excellent producer of Fontodi wrote “We deeply regret that the choices proposed by the Chianti Consortium are all aimed only at reproposing strategies of enhancement already put in place by Chianti Classico wine: the Great Selection, however, with characteristics identical to those of the Great Chianti Classico Selection, such as alcohol content (13%), ageing time (30 months), the ban on the use of the fiasco and the mandatory certification for bulk wine transactions>>.
The most worried thing comes at the bottom of the statement by Giovanni Manetti “ We will make clear opposition to the proposal of Chianti Gran Selezione in all the institutions>>.

Only a little later is unleashed the defense strategy of the Grand Selection that is considered as a good on which the Black Rooster invested and that he wants to protect: the brand was registered in Italy and in the main markets in 2013. It remains to be clarified the legitimacy of such a registration since the Single Text of the wine authorizes it on all the Italian denominations, but the legal disputes go on for decades and therefore, in practice, selling a bottle of Chianti Gran Selezione will be impossible.



So the noble Chianti area unleashes the weapons ready to defend a type created in 2014 after two years of work and the restyling of the brand. A daring strategy on which consortium and wineries have invested money and time involving 136 wineries, getting good results. A stylistic renewal and a strong qualitative increase of the “pyramid” Chianti Classico, a tonic effect on prices and image.
This is something positive for all the Tuscan wine that has in the wines Brunello, Bolgheri and Chianti Classico its locomotives, those that open the trade routes and wine cards of luxury restaurants around the world.

I assume that the project of using the Gran Selezione also for the Chianti had as its objective to obtain a push towards excellence similar to that of the Classico.
But this laudable plan must be seen as a likely, indeed very likely, negative effect: that consumers are confused.
If you go abroad you will find that, in other continents excluding a few super experts, all other buyers, even the experts exchange the two denominations, especially in the Chianti Superiore type, which has a quality level and a name capable of confusing even the experts.


Even my importers, in some cases, have taken one for the other. The world is great, wines are many and remembering them all is difficult.
Chianti Classico 37 million bottles a year from a vineyard area of 7,500 hectares Chianti over 100 million bottles of 19,500 hectares of vineyard. Chianti is not a very small denomination as the Orcia for Brunello could be.

Chianti has a production volume that makes it well visible on a planetary level causing the same confusion that afflicts the Nobile di Montepulciano compared to Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. The first is more prestigious and expensive but the second has enormously higher volumes and a much lower average price for which the two denominations with similar names tend to become confused and homogenized in value and perception.

In these conditions why increase the likelihood of confusing Chianti and Chianti Classico? Would it not be better to invent a new and distinctive brand: “Cru-di-vigna”, for example, as Chianti Rufina asks, insisting, rightly, on the need to distinguish industrial and agricultural productions?
Is this not the true origin of the Chianti trade problems? The need to restart from the qualification of the vineyard and the grape that is feasible only with a greater remuneration and a clear distinction between the wine, which is born in the same company, from the one vinified or only packaged from grains wineries that they market all over the world?
We will see how it will end but one thing is certain: if the change in the specification is approved in Rome and Brussels and especially in the courts, I will also produce the Great Selection of Chianti because my vineyards, alongside those of Brunello, produce the splendid Sangiovese that will pull the tail to the friends of the Chianti Classico. Sorry