Let’s Talk Chianti

Italy was one of the hardest countries for me when studying WSET 3. The regions, the grapes. Ack! The only way to get better or recall what I learned is to keep referring to my book (boring), but what’s more effective (and quite enjoyable) is actually drinking wine.

A couple of weeks ago, I was having a Chianti in bed. Have you heard of Sangiovese? That’s the main varietal you’ll find in this wine. In Italy, unlike say here in Canada or the States, and like in France, the wines are referenced by the region it’s from, not the grapes they’re made with. Chianti’s don’t have to be 100% Sangiovese, though. Wines here can have up to 20% other varietals in the blend.

Chianti Classico
Take me to Tuscany!

Where is Chianti?

You must’ve heard Tuscany… in central Italy.

Tuscany wine region

Tuscany in red. Image from Wikipedia

This famous beautiful region is where you’ll find Chianti. The major nearby city is Florence. Speaking of Tuscany, you must have heard of Super Tuscan wines! But do you know what they are.

What’s a Super Tuscan?

By now, I’m sure you figured out that it’s wine from Tuscany. But what makes it “super?” If a wine contains other grapes like the Bordeaux ones Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, then it’s considered a Super Tuscan. The maritime climate in Tuscany is ideal for these Bordeaux varietals.

How did French grapes make their way to Italy?

In response to the low quality wine that was being produced in Tuscany in the 70s, producers started making wine that wasn’t within the Italian wine laws. That is they didn’t follow the rules that dictated what varieties can go in the wine and therefore couldn’t label them as Chianti DOC or DOCG (more about these acronyms next week). Indeed, the wines were great, and still are I’m told. I can’t say for myself since I don’t think I’ve ever had a Super Tuscan. Have you had one? What did you think? And if you’ve had both Chianti and Super Tuscan, which do you prefer? 

Looks like I need to go buy myself a bottle of Super Tuscan.

8 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Chianti

  1. cool blog! I am getting ready for WSET3 and found your helpful blog!
    At the moment, I haven’t signed-up for the test… but bought the textbook from Amazon, which looks the same as the one you have.. And it seems like some of the texts were out-dated as regulations in different wine countries are continuously evolving.. did you have the same issue by any chance?


    • I’m happy to know you found my blog helpful! I took WSET 3 through a course. I know there are different versions of the book, but the one I had at the time was the most recent. When do you think you’ll write the exam?

      • I see. I am planning on writing the exam this December. At the moment, I’m in Seattle and found a good program in Napa Valley. Did you take the online or in-class version?

      • Vancouver is so amazing. I visited there not too long ago. It was like Seattle on steroids.. Do you plan on pursuing a career in wine or are you keeping it as an extremely passionate hobby?

      • Vancouver is stunning, indeed! I’m sort of in it now. I work for Wirtz, respresenting Diageo products here in Canada… so our wines are Sterling, New Harbour, Beaulieu, Woodwork to name a few. I also rep their spirits like Don Julio, Crown Royal, Ketel One, etc. I just started in the industry a year ago, and learning lots on the job. Maybe one day I’ll focus exclusively on wine, but right now, I’m enjoying my journey. Are you in the industry?

      • Diageo has a huge portfolio, that is awesome! I will be doing a harvest at a winery this fall, so I hope I can get into the industry after that. My plan is to do a harvest, take the WSET, and pray that I can get a job in the industry. Would you say getting a WSET3 will be a good door opener? ._. Are you preparing for WSET Diploma now? And congratulations on the wedding! Cheers!

      • Thank you! The diploma is in the distant future. WSET 3 will definitely open doors. Not many people go that far. I’ve met lot of people in the industry who have 2, but not many with 3 or diploma. I know of only 2 who are pursuing the diploma at this time. The harvest will be an incredible experience!

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