The producers of one of Italy’s most popular wines, Chianti, are looking to sweeten its appeal to attract more women and a new generation of young consumers from further afield. The classic red wine has been produced in the lush rolling hills of the same name in Tuscany since the 13th century.
Now the Italian government has approved a request from the Chianti Wine Consortium that will allow wine producers to raise the level of residual sugars from the grapes they use to produce the famous wine in line with European regulations.
The changes were announced as Italy confirmed its position as the world’s number one wine producer in 2019 ahead of France and Spain.
According to the latest figures produced by Italy’s Wine Union and ISMEA, the agricultural research institute, Italy is expecting to produce 46 million hectoliters of wine in 2019, 16 percent less than last year.
The Chianti consortium, which represents 3,000 growers in the vineyards surrounding Florence, insists an increase in residual sugar will “soften” the taste of Chianti, rather than give it a sweeter taste.
Chianti is usually made from a blend of grapes but predominantly the red Sangiovese variety. Until now Chianti producers were required to keep their sugar levels to a maximum limit of 4 grams per litre.
Under the new rules they will be able to add 2 grams per litre to the acidity total which varies from one wine to another.
“It will still be a dry wine,” Giovanni Busi, consortium president told The Telegraph. “The limit we have will be the same as other famous Italian wines like the Brunello and the Barolo. It won’t taste any sweeter.”
"When we partipate in wine fairs in Brazil, America or in Asia, people often tell us Chianti is a great wine but too hard, with too much tannin," he said.
"Women want wines that are more fragrant, with less tannin. This is a normal evolution."
The Chianti wine was a favorite of the famous Medici family that ruled Florence for centuries.
In 1716 Cosimo III de Medici officially nominated the picturesque region of Chianti where 15,000 hectares of vineyards are planted today.
The wine has evolved over time as tastes have changed. Mr Busi said producers backed the latest change to sugar levels two years ago. He expects the softer taste will attract new wine lovers and expand Chianti’s market reach particularly in the US, South America and Asia.
“This will allow interested companies to present their dry wines, which are still of the highest quality but more pleasing to the palate in mainly Asian and American markets. “We therefore expect an increase in sales in foreign markets, which already have great potential.”
Meanwhile Raffaele Borriello, director-general of ISMEA, warned Brexit could have a serious impact on Italian wine growers in an export market worth €2.6 billion euros (£2.3billion) last year.
“The future of the United Kingdom will weigh on the future of the sector and the uncertainty of the new world geopolitical structure, where market dynamics will be increasingly difficult to read,” he said in a statement.
The UK is the biggest market for prosecco. Now proscecco producers in northern Italy want to introduce a “superior” label to distinguish between quality bubbly and other cheaper varieties that appeal to the mass market.
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