The History of Chianti Rufina
As evidenced by the undeniable potential of the Chianti area, the wine history of these areas dates back to the Etruscan period, VIII Sec. BC, and develops, without interruption, until today. This is evidenced by the many historical finds found in the land as well as the infinite castles, villas and abbeys and to end up in the numerous cellars that enrich the territory at every corner.
The CHIANTI name, however, come probably from the Etruscan language. The etymology is in fact connected to two Etruscan terms:
- CLANGOR (noise): to remember the clamor of the frequent hunting holes made in the forests of which the area was rich
- CLANTE (from the Etruscan, water): a common name of Etruscan families spread in the area that remember the wealth of water in the area.
However, it’s only in 1398 that the first official document recalls the use of the term Chianti. The merchant Francesco di Marco Datini, probably founder of the modern banking system, uses this term claiming that Piero di Tino Riccio was creditor of “three florins, twenty-six money and eight denarii, of six white Chianti wine barrels”.
Starting from that moment on there are many testimonies that talk about Chianti wine:
1404: Amedeo Gherardini of Vignamaggio writes that he is sending to Datini a barrel of his Vignamaggio wine reserve, one of the Chianti types.
1427: it is introduced the Tuscan real estate registry, in which Chianti wine areas are identified as “Vermiglio di Brolio, Castellina, Uzzano, Gaiole, Golpaia, Panzano, Lamole”
1536: Saint Lancerio, the first sommelier in history, advises Pope Paul III the consumption of Chianti wine.
1685: Francesco Redi, founder of experimental biology, graduated in philosophy and medicine, publishes in 1865 “Bacco in Toscana” where it’s possible to read:
My tongue has already turned my head off
taste a little, drink this other
robust that boast
to be born in the middle of Chianti
and between stones
he produced it
January 9, 1661: Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary that he had received two bottles of Florence, better known as Vermiglio Wine. He describes the white and red wines of Florence as wines of good stomach, although the red is “a bit costly”.
17th century: Chianti wine is transported in bottles sealed with oil.
The key date for the territory of Chianti, and also that of Rùfina, is, however, the year 1716, when it is finally introduced the first production protection of a product not only in Italy but also all over the world.
The Grand Duke of Medici Cosimo III, on September 24, 1716, issued an announcement titled “Above the Declaration of Borders of the Chianti, Pomino, Carmignano and Valdarno Superiore Regions”: for the first time in history with this document are defined with precision the territorial spheres within which wines had to be produced to obtain the corresponding denomination.
This measure, while setting out the boundaries of the wine to be produced in order to be able to formulate this denomination, did not indicate a production specification to be respected, which is, however, a fundamental element of modern DOC. However, Cosimo III was also careful to promulgate a decree setting up special vigilance production congregations creating, de facto, the current Wine Conservation Consorts.
The kingdom of Cosimo III, the longest in the history of Tuscany, was characterized by a strong political and economic decline, dotted with persecutory campaigns against anyone who did not conform to the rigid Catholic morality. During this period we assisted to a process of involution of scientific research in Tuscany that only few years ago was at the forefront at European level. Governing always on the bankruptcy, Cosimo III was particularly concerned that the importance of the Medici family should not be decimated in the European courts.
However, avoid the concrete risk of extinction of his family, expressly against the imperial edicts, he named his daughter Anna Maria Luisa as his universal heir.
With this move his political and commercial alliances outside the Tuscan borders began to creak. Right at this historic moment characterized by an accelerated economic crisis, Cosimo III was concerned with protecting one of its most profitable resources: wine.
The reading of the measures in question shows that these four wines were the only ones that could be shipped abroad by ship. Observance of precise production standards made it possible to carry out controls to prevent these wines from being adulterated during the journey.
The political measure announced by the Grand Duke aimed to avoid any collapse of the image in European courts following a possible scandal linked to the quality of wine, a true “honour of the nation”.
In fact, he stated:
“All those wines that will not be produced and made in confined regions can not and should not under any pretext bargain for sailing, for Chianti wine, Pomino, Carmignano and Val d’Arno di Sopra under the penalties contained in the statement notice”.
1851-1877: It was around the middle of the nineteenth century that the Barone di Ferro, after a long trip to France, made with the aim of sampling the best “sailed” wines, or suitable for navigation and therefore aging, returned to Italy and carried out numerous studies on the varieties of Sangiovese and other vineyards typical of Tuscany, which grew in the estate of Castello di Brolio.
Following his travels and subsequent studies, in 1872 he came to the formula of what he termed as “perfect wine”:
- 7/10 of Sangiovese
- 2/10 of Canaiolo
- 1/10 of Malvasia or Trebbiano
It was during this period that Chianti, vinified according to this formula, was imposed on all international markets thanks to the election of Florence as Italy’s Capital.
1877: The name of Rùfina is so famous in the world that Ruffino Wineries are founded, whose name derives inspiration from the town of Rùfina.
1932: The Italian government extends the production area of Chianti by creating seven sub-zones:
- Classical (that is the oldest Chianti zone summed with newest territories to the south and especially to the north);
- Colli Aretini;
- Colli Fiorentini;
- Colline Pisane;
- Colli Senesi;
1967: a further extension that leads to the present boundaries.
1996: Montespertoli sub denomination is formed
2014: Classico separates from other Chianti subterranean areas