A Chianti wine is any wine produced in the Chianti region, in central Tuscany. It was historically associated with a squat bottle enclosed in a straw basket, called a fiasco ("flask"; pl. fiaschi); however, the fiasco is only used by a few makers of the wine now; most Chianti is now bottled in more standard shaped wine bottles. Baron Bettino Ricasoli (later Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy) created the Chianti recipe of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 15% Malvasia bianca in the middle of the nineteenth century.
The first definition of a wine-area called Chianti was made in 1716. It described the area near the villages of Gaiole, Castellina and Radda; the so-called Lega del Chianti and later Provincia del Chianti
(Chianti province). In 1932 the Chianti area was completely re-drawn
and divided in seven sub-areas: Classico, Colli Aretini, Colli
Fiorentini, Colline Pisane, Colli Senesi, Montalbano and Rùfina. Most of
the villages that in 1932 were suddenly included in the new Chianti
Classico area added in Chianti to their name-such as Greve in Chianti
which amended its name in 1972. Wines labelled "Chianti Classico" come
from the biggest sub-area of Chianti, that includes the original Chianti
heartland. Only Chianti from this sub-zone may boast the black rooster
seal (known in Italian as a gallo nero) on the neck of the
bottle, which indicates that the producer of the wine is a member of the
Chianti Classico Consortium, the local association of producers. Other variants, with the exception of Rufina from the north-east side of Florence and Montalbano in the south of Pistoia, originate in the respective named provinces: Siena for the Colli Senesi, Florence for the Colli Fiorentini, Arezzo for the Colli Aretini and Pisa for the Colline Pisane. In 1996 part of the Colli Fiorentini sub-area was renamed Montespertoli.
During the 1970s producers started to reduce the quantity of white
grapes in Chianti. In 1995 it became legal to produce a Chianti with
100% Sangiovese. For a wine to retain the name of Chianti, it must be
produced with at least 80% Sangiovese grapes.
Aged Chianti (38 months instead of 4-7), may be labelled as Riserva.
Chianti that meets more stringent requirements (lower yield, higher
alcohol content and dry extract) may be labelled as Chianti Superiore, although Chianti from the "Classico" sub-area is not allowed in any event to be labelled as "Superiore".