Chianti is Italy's most famous red wine, which takes its name from a traditional region of Tuscany where it is produced. It used to be easily identified by its squat bottle enclosed in a straw basket, called fiasco ('flask'); however, the fiasco is only used by a few winemakers now; most Chianti is bottled in traditionally shaped wine bottles. Easy drinking Chianti is generally fairly inexpensive, with basic Chianti running less than NZ$20 for a bottle. More sophisticated Chianti, however, are made and sold at substantially higher prices.
Until the middle of the 19th century Chianti was based solely on Sangiovese grapes. During the second half of the 19th century Baron Bettino Ricasoli who was an important Chianti producer and, in the same time, minister in Tuscany and then Prime Minister in the Kingdom of Italy, imposed his ideas: Chianti should be produced with 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 15% Malvasia Bianca.
During the 1970s, producers started to reduce the quantity of white grapes in Chianti and eventually from 1995 it is legal to produce Chianti with 100% Sangiovese, or at least without the white grapes. It may have a picture of a black rooster (known as - gallo nero) on the neck of the bottle, which indicates that the producer of the wine is a member of the "Gallo Nero" Consortium; an association of producers of the Classico sub-area sharing marketing costs.
Since 2005 the black rooster is the emblem of the Chianti Classico producers association. Aged Chianti (38 months instead of 4-7), may be labeled as Riserva. Chianti that meets more stringent requirements, (lower yield, higher alcohol content and dry extract) may be labeled as Chianti Superiore. Chianti from the 'Classico' sub-area is not allowed in any case to be labeled as 'Superiore'.