Chianti wines are named after a hilly region of Tuscany, south of Florence and north-east of Siena where wine has been made for centuries. The earliest documented mention of wine from this area dates to 1378. Curiously, Chianti wine has enjoyed regulation long before most other wine has.
The first protective legislation was introduced in 1713 under Grand Duke Cosimo III. It forbade wine that did not come from this area from calling itself ‘Chianti’. Today, only wine produced and bottled in the Chianti zones may be called and sold as ‘Chianti.’ In the 1830s Baron Bettino Ricasoli, making wine at Brolio, set down the “formula” for good Chianti: red varietals: at least 75% sangiovese, 5-10% canaiolo; white (10% max.): malvasia or trebbiano.
Today, both the white red varietals are optional, aside from the obligatory sangiovese ,75% minimum. Chianti is aged one year; riserva two. Chianti wines are made today from grapes grown in a wider area than the area of Chianti itself: the Chianti wine-making zones reach as far south as the hills of Siena (Chianti dei Colli Senesi) into the area around Florence, and run west almost to Pisa.