The anticipated new premium level for the wines of Chianti Classico DOCG — Gran Selezione (Great Selection) — has cleared its final hurdle and is now officially part of the Chianti Classico portfolio. Gran Selezione is a new classification above Riserva, made using grapes harvested only from the winery’s own vineyards, with upgraded requirements for alcohol, extract, and aging, as shown below.
The new category was approved by the European Commission in early February 2014 and takes effect immediately. This means that any estate-grown wines that have been aging for at least 30 months and meet the new minimum technical standards can now be sold as Chianti Classico Gran Selezione. According to Michele Cassano, the vice director general of the Chianti Classico consorzio, the new quality level is available from the 2010 vintage — wines that are already beyond the minimum 30 months of aging. In other words, 2010 Gran Selezione wines can be released immediately. The earliest release date for 2011 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione is July 2014.
The consorzio estimates that about 8 or 9 percent of Chianti Classico DOCG production will qualify for the Gran Selezione level. Approximately 80 percent of Chianti Classico is exported, with the United States by far the largest market at around 30 percent.
Gran Selezione progress
At the West Coast debut of Chianti Classico Gran Selezione wines in San Francisco recently, consorzio director Giuseppe Liberatore gave an update on the growth of the Gran Selezione category in the past year since it was created. So far, 84 wineries have gotten approval for Gran Selezione wines, with a total of 89 GS labels among them. GS currently represents about 4% of overall Chianti Classico production, or roughly 120,000 cases, compared to 23% for Riserva.