The Vinification

It is very old, to be precise from 913 A.D., the parchment found in the Church of Saint Catherine at Lucignano speaks about the vinification in Chianti. We have news that in 1023 at Grignano in the jurisdiction of Florence there was given working land and vineyards to a farmer occupied with improving the vines. At the same time the lords of Brolio - the Firidolfi of who descended from the Ricasoli - planted the vines on the slopes below their castle.
In the era of the rising of the Councils, the commerce of the wine was an important source of income, so much so that in Florence in the second half of the 1200’s, between the minor arts there was founded that of the Vinattieri accompanied by the opening of new hostelries where one could taste the wine and selling points where it was possible to trade in the wine. The consumption of wine during these years was not limited to the tables of the lords, but entered into communal use, present on all tables, considered an indispensible drink, even when people had to be content with an watery substance derived from the second and third crushing of the grapes; it was an integrator of a food often low in energetic value and insufficient.
The quantity in which the wine was consumed in every social environment was - from the XIII century - in constant aumentation everywhere, notwithstanding it being subjected to a heavy taxation and so of continuing rising price.
But the terminology “Chianti” appeared only at the end of the XIV century: before this Tuscan wine was called “vermiglio” if red and “vernaccia” if white. Certainly it was already in the Florentine Land Register from 1427 when it became strictly distinct from all the other Tuscan wines those products of “Chianti with all its provinces” because it was judged superior (apart from the whites of some localities of higher Valdarno). Even before calling it “Chianti”, of the rest, the wine produced in this area was renowned for a process of vinification invented shortly after the middle of the 1300’s by two Florentines and consisted of adding to the wine just drawn off, a small percentage of passita grapes and to referment to obtain a pure wine. There was also added the white of an egg, bitter almonds and salt to clarify, pepper and rose petals to give it a good colour.
A decisive step in the field of technical production which came about thanks to the studies on vinifcation by Giovanni Cosimo Villifranchi that left useful information of the Oenology Tuscan works (1773). It informs us that “the grapes must be in good part black Canaiolo with some quantity of San Gioveto, of Mammolo and Marzimino”, stating exactly the eventual substitution, the “government” for which used the substitute must, in the years in which the wine became too sour or of too intense a colour, with the white Canaiolo or with Trebbiano because the wine should be “ of a very full ruby colour”.
Clarification was necessary because - wrote Villifranchi - “many with the desire to earn money and not to cancel the requests of the customers diluting Chianti wine with wine from other places”, so much so that it was necessary to make a wise resolution “not to send this in bottles but rather in flasks”.