5 August 1996
Chianti Classico finally gets its own DOCG.
Well that took a lot of time, but finally on this day Chianti Classico managed to affirm its independence from “standard” Chianti: the wines from the area between Siena and Florence, recognized as the original Chianti wine region since centuries, had been the inspiration to the so called “Vino all’uso del Chianti” (“Wine in the manner of Chianti”) produced outside this zone by using a similar grape formula. The problem rose first when this “Chianti inspired wine” started to present itself as “Chianti” tout court and after that when the Italian government acknowledged this state of things in the 1930s. The true Chianti area got the Classico subzone labelling inside the bigger Chianti appellation, an unsatisfying compromise.
In 1996 Chianti Classico was finally able to draw a separating line with the rest of Chiantis, with the result that today Chianti DOCG and Chianti Classico DOCG have two completely different set of rules and are supervised by two entirely separated Consorzios.
15 August 1845
Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha visit Dechantenruhe a famous vineyard of Hochheim in Rheingau.
The date remains in the history of wine because 5 years after this trip Georg Michael Papstmann, local wine producer and owner of the plot, asked Her Highness the permission to rename Dechantenruhe to Königin Victoriaberg (Queen Victoria’s hill). A monument was erected in Her honor.
The vineyard, only 5 ha in size, is still highly prized and officially listed as a Grosslage of the region. Joachim Flick Weingut is the sole present owner and bottles the wine for the local and export market. Some of them even make their way to Japan, imported by Mottox.
17 August 1838
Antonio Carpenè was born in Brugnera, present Friuli Venezia Giulia, not far from Conegliano.
Chemist, oenologist, scientist, educator: Antonio Carpenè has been an extremely important historical figure for Italian wine. At the half of the 19th century Italian wine industry was in a state of semi-disaster: producers had no scientific knowledge and relied on what their ancestors had done before them, using outdated techniques and unable to exploit the wealth of Italian terroirs.
Carpenè, between the others, was one of the first men to commit to change this situation: he studied oenology, he experimented, he wrote articles for journals of viticulture of the time, like the Corriere Vinicolo, and most importantly in 1875 he established the Oenological school of Conegliano, together with Giovanni Battista Cerletti, contributing in the spread of knowledge and in the education of the local farmers.
His name is also linked to the famous Prosecco brand Carpenè Malvolti, which he founded in 1868 as Società Enologica Trevigiana with Antonio Caccianiga, Angelo Malvolti e Angelo Vianello. The company is still in the hands of the Carpenè family, now in the 5th generation.
19 August 232
Future Roman emperor Probus is born in Sirmium (present Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia).
In a very confused period for the Roman empire, Probus distinguished himself for being a good general and a wise administrator. After defeating the Goths in the lower Danube, the Alemanni and Longiones in Gaul and after successfully campaigning against the barbarians in present day Germany, he turned to strengthening the imperial infrastructure and replenishing the treasury.
The legions were famous for doing and undoing emperors at the time, killing those that they did not like and elevating new favourites, to throw them in the dust afterwards. Probus understood that he had to keep the soldiers busy to avoid the same fate so he decided to repel the Domitian ban (more on that below) and to embark in a series of public works, including a massive plantation of vineyards in regions that never had had a winemaking tradition before: northern Gaul, Illyricum (more or less the Balkans up to present Slovakia), Pannonia. Many of today wine regions can (and like to) trace their origin to this period, Mosel and Champagne being a couple of primary examples.
Sadly the plan did not work as planned and Probus was killed after only six years of reign. Rome was slowly slipping on the slope that would have brought the empire to its demise.
18 September 96
Emperor Domitian is killed in a conjure by his court servants.
Domitian is known for having being an authoritarian ruler who decreased the power of the Roman Senate while expanding the Empire and strengthening its economy.
In the history of wine he is known for its ban on vineyard plantings, issued in 92 AD. Wine was in huge demand at the time and fetched higher prices than other crops. Vineyards expanded at the expenses of cereal fields, because people wanted to make wine to gain more money, but this could ultimately lead to famine and unrest, in a context further exacerbated by the infamous Vesuvius eruption of 79 AD. Domitian forbade new vineyard plantings in all Italy and commanded 50% of those in the Provinces to be uprooted.
The real effect of this edict is not clear, though probably it would have been very difficult to enforce. Nonetheless its abolition 200 years later by Probus (see above) led a new impetus to wine production in the Roman Empire.
24 September 1716
Cosimo de’ Medici III, ruler of the Granduchy of Tuscany, issues an edict delimiting the areas of production entitled to call their wines Chianti, Pomino, Carmignano and Valdarno di Sopra.
Some people claim that Port or Tokaj were the first wine denominations of history. Port fans have a good point in specifying that their appellation was the first in the “modern” sense of the word, because in 1756 the Portuguese not only defined the exact borders of the region, but they also made rules for wine production and set up a regulating organism to supervise them.
This is all good and true, but still Chianti & Co. were geographically defined earlier than that. Furthermore there was an embryo of Consorzio in Tuscany as well, as Cosimo had earlier created a Congregation charged to control the aforementioned wines when exported, to avoid their manipulation during the trip.
26 September 1872
Again about Chianti (wow, third anniversary in 2 months!): on this day Bettino Ricasoli fixed the Chianti formula, after years of experimentation.
His words in the letter to Cesare Studiati read:
“I confirmed the results of my first experiences, that is that the wine receives the majority of its perfume from Sangioveto [Sangiovese] (which I greatly admire) and a certain intensity of perception; from Canajuolo [Canaiolo] [it receives] the amiability which tempers the harshness of the former; the Malvagia [Malvasia], which could be avoided for wines made for ageing, tends to dilute the product of the first two grapes, it enhances the flavor and makes it lighter and readier to use at the daily table.”
Well, happy birthday Chianti!