What’s the difference between Chianti and Chianti Superiore?

Answered by Randall Whitlock

Chianti and Chianti Superiore are both Italian wines, but they have some key differences in terms of production and aging requirements.

1. Origin and Subregions: Chianti is a that originates from the Chianti region in Tuscany, Italy. It is made primarily from Sangiovese grapes, although other varieties such as Canaiolo and Colorino may be included. Chianti Superiore, on the other hand, does not have a specific geographic designation. Grapes for a Chianti Superiore can come from any of the subregions within Chianti, except for the Chianti Classico subregion.

2. Production Requirements: Chianti Superiore, as the name suggests, has slightly stricter production requirements compared to regular Chianti. Both wines must be made from at least 80% Sangiovese grapes, but Chianti Superiore may have a higher percentage of other authorized red grape varieties. This allows for more flexibility in blending and potentially enhancing the complexity of the wine.

3. Aging Requirements: The aging requirements for Chianti and Chianti Superiore differ significantly. Chianti is typically aged for a minimum of three months, while Chianti Superiore must be aged for a longer period. According to the regulations, Chianti Superiore must undergo a minimum aging period of nine months, three of which must be in bottle before it can be released for sale. This additional aging can contribute to the development of more mature flavors and smoother tannins in Chianti Superiore.

4. Quality and Style: Chianti Superiore is often considered to be of higher quality compared to regular Chianti. The longer aging period allows the wine to become more complex and refined, with the potential for improved structure and balance. Chianti Superiore may exhibit more pronounced fruit flavors, integrated tannins, and a longer finish compared to Chianti. However, it's important to note that quality can vary significantly between different producers and vintages.

5. Food Pairing: Both Chianti and Chianti Superiore pair well with a variety of Italian dishes. The bright acidity and medium body of Chianti make it a versatile match for tomato-based pasta sauces, grilled meats, and aged cheeses. Chianti Superiore, with its potential for more complexity and structure, can also be enjoyed with heartier dishes like braised meats, stews, and rich risottos.

The main difference between Chianti and Chianti Superiore lies in the production and aging requirements. Chianti Superiore is aged for a longer period, resulting in potentially higher quality and more complex wines. However, it's important to explore different producers and vintages to fully appreciate the individual characteristics and styles of both Chianti and Chianti Superiore.