Explore Chianti Classico, where diverse microclimates shape a range of styles. From the fresh to the richly aged and even celebrated sweet wines, experience the distinctive character of this Tuscan gem.

In the Tuscan hills between Florence and Siena lies Chianti Classico, a region famed for its vineyards and picturesque landscapes. Amidst ancient olive groves and medieval villages, its rolling hills offer stunning views that seamlessly blend rich cultural heritage with timeless winemaking traditions.

Getting a Lay of the Land

Chianti Classico, nestled in the heart of Tuscany, is just a 30 minute’s drive from Florence and 3 hours north of Rome. It's here, in these rolling hills, that the original Chianti was first defined in 1716 by Cosimo III, setting the stage for centuries of viticultural excellence.

Covering an area of 29 miles (47 km) from north to south and, at its widest, 17 miles (27 km), Chianti Classico stands apart from the Chianti region, which expanded the region’s territory in the 20th century.

The terrain in Chianti Classico is a patchwork of rugged mountain chains and gentle slopes, with the Monti del Chianti mountain range to the east creating a distinct microclimate and separating Chianti Classico from the Val d’Arno area. The highest peak of this range, Monte San Michele, reaches 2930 feet (893 m) above sea level.

Chianti Classico covers 172,900 acres (70,000 hectares) but only 24,200 acres (9,800 hectares) are dedicated to vineyards. However, only 16,800 acres (6,800 hectares) are used to produce Chianti Classico DOCG wines.

Chianti Classico is a hilly mosaic of vineyards, forests, and olive groves.

Where are the vineyards?

This is a land where vineyards and olive groves coexist with dense woodlands, covering a landscape that’s as diverse as it is scenic. In fact, over 60% of the region is forest! The whole region is a mosaic of wild nature and picturesque small plots of vines.

The varied topography not only adds to the beauty but plays a crucial role in the development of Sangiovese, the star grape of Chianti Classico, allowing for a longer ripening period that helps create wines with depth and complexity.

The hillsides of Chianti Classico

Vineyards in southern and central Chianti Classico are planted at elevations that typically range from 980-1640 feet (300-500 m) above sea level, and in the north you’ll find vineyards at 655-980 feet (200-300 m) above sea level. These elevations contribute to Chianti Classico’s structure and aromatic complexity.

So where are the vineyards? They’re scattered throughout the whole of Chianti Classico, however never above 2,300 feet (700 m) above sea level, as it gets too cold to properly ripen Sangiovese.

Additional Geographical Units of Chianti Classico (UGA)

Introduced in 2023, UGAs, short for Unità Geografiche Aggiuntive (Additional Geographical Units), are the Chianti Classico region's way of tracing wine back to its roots.

They bring to light the diverse origins of grapes in the region. These 11 demarcated districts are distinct, each shaped by a blend of natural attributes such as soil composition and microclimate, as well as human factors including cultural heritage and local traditions.

Currently exclusive to Gran Selezione labels, UGAs offer wine enthusiasts a deeper understanding of the wine's journey from the unique Chianti Classico terroir to the bottle.

Going clockwise, starting in the north, let’s take a glimpse at each one.

San Casciano

Renowned for its drinkable yet age-worthy wines, this region offers a unique blend of agriculture and viticulture.

  • Elevation: 150-375 m
  • Wineries: 46
  • Area: 9100 hectares; Vineyards: 1560 hectares
  • Composition: 17% Vines, 19% Olives, 37% Woods
  • Geography: Alluvial plateau, mild climate
  • Soil: Albarese, especially in the south
  • Wine Characteristics: Uniform style, less color, rounded fruit, more austere in the south

Known for wines with concentration and freshness, thanks to the diverse elevations and terrain.

  • Elevation: 150-375 m
  • Wineries: 53
  • Area: 11570 hectares; Vineyards: 910 hectares
  • Composition: 8% Vines, 8.5% Olives, 75% Woods
  • Geography: Monte del Chianti to the east
  • Soil: Shale, Sillano Formation, and Macigno
  • Wine Characteristics: Generally concentrated, darker fruit, freshness from higher elevations

A small but significant UGA, producing structured and rounded wines.

  • Elevation: 250-450 m
  • Wineries: 15
  • Area: 1545 hectares; Vineyards: 250 hectares
  • Composition: 16% Vines, 11% Olives, 52% Woods
  • Geography: Left bank of the Greve River
  • Soil: Shale, Sillano Formation, Pietraforte, mostly Alberese
  • Wine Characteristics: Fruity, structured, rounded

The smallest UGA boasting the highest altitudes, it’s known for its elegant and floral wines.

  • Elevation: 500-625 m
  • Wineries: 9
  • Area: 985 hectares; Vineyards: 95 hectares
  • Composition: 9.6% Vines, 5% Olives, 76% Woods
  • Geography: High altitudes, late ripening, cooler site
  • Soil: Macigno
  • Wine Characteristics: Pale, floral, elegant, fresh, slightly lower acid

A region of varied styles, producing earthy to fruity wines depending on the slope.

  • Elevation: 300-475 m
  • Wineries: 39
  • Area: 2840 hectares; Vineyards: 595 hectares
  • Composition: 21% Vines, 12% Olives, 48% Woods
  • Geography: Different slopes leading to varied styles
  • Soil: Pietraforte, Sillano Formation, Shale
  • Wine Characteristics: Earthy in the west, fruitier and fleshier in the east.

Celebrated for its elegant and vivacious wines, influenced by the cool climate and two diverse valleys.

  • Elevation: 350-520 m
  • Wineries: 42
  • Area: 8050 hectares; Vineyards: 750 hectares
  • Composition: 9% Vines, 5% Olives, 76% Woods
  • Geography: Pesa and Arbia valleys
  • Soil: Macigno (Pesa Valley), Alberese (Arbia Valley)
  • Wine Characteristics: Elegant, vivacious, fresh

The largest UGA showcases diverse soils that contribute to the varying wine styles, from lean and bright to fleshy.

  • Elevation: 300-500 m
  • Wineries: 41
  • Area: 12900 hectares; Vineyards: 1320 hectares
  • Composition: 10% Vines, 7% Olives, 73% Woods
  • Geography: higher elevations, 4 major valleys
  • Soil: Macigno (East), Alberese (Central/West), Sand (South)
  • Wine Characteristics: Lean and bright in central, fleshy in south
Castelnuovo Berardenga

Known for its intense, tannin-rich wines, reflecting the varied terroir and warmer climate.

  • Elevation: 275-450 m
  • Wineries: 15
  • Area: 5370 hectares; Vineyards: 760 hectares
  • Composition: 14% Vines, 9% Olives, 56% Woods
  • Geography: Varied geographies lead to nuanced expressions of wine
  • Soil: Alberese (North), Tufo Senese (Middle), Marine Clay (South)
  • Wine Characteristics: Dark fruit, lots of tannin, intense

Produces generous, rounded wines with a touch of austerity at higher altitudes.

  • Elevation: 300-450 m
  • Wineries: 30
  • Area: 6090 hectares; Vineyards: 1080 hectares
  • Composition: 9.5% Vines, 10% Olives, 51% Woods
  • Geography: Higher altitudes in the north, warmer and lower in the south
  • Soil: Macigno
  • Wine Characteristics: Darker fruit, generous, rounded, more austere in north

Largest in vineyard area, this UGA produces nuanced wines with varying characteristics due to the variation in altitude and aspects.

  • Elevation: 300-500 m
  • Wineries: 59
  • Area: 9980 hectares; Vineyards: 1680 hectares
  • Composition: 17% Vines, 7.5% Olives, 54% Woods
  • Geography: Varied aspects and elevations
  • Soil: Sillano Formation and Alberese -Wine Characteristics: Brighter fruit and savory notes at higher elevations
San Donato in Poggio

Offers a range of styles, from agile and fruity to elegant and structured.

  • Elevation: 250-425 m
  • Wineries: 28
  • Area: 6025 hectares; Vineyards: 800 hectares
  • Composition: 13% Vines, 9% Olives, 62% Woods
  • Geography: Bisected by the Pesa Valley and positioned between San Casciano and Panzano.
  • Soil: Alberese, Pietraforte, Shale, Sillano
  • Wine Characteristics: Agile, fruity on Alberese; elegant in south, structured in north

Chianti Classico Wine Region Facts

  • The territory of Chianti Classico covers 172,900 acres (70,000 hectares)
  • 24,200 acres (9,800 ha) of vines, 16,800 acres (6,800 ha) of which are used for Chianti Classico DOCG wines.
  • 52% of total vineyards are certified organic.
  • Highest elevation is 2900 feet (883 m).
  • 35-38 million bottles of Chianti Classico are produced each year. For comparison, Bordeaux produces 650 million bottles each year.
  • There are 345 wineries throughout the region.
  • UGAs were approved by members in 2021 and will be on labels from July 2023.
  • Sangiovese is the main grape variety planted.
  • Sangiovese must count for at least 80% of the blend in Chianti Classico.
  • The maximum yield is 7.5 tonnes per hectare in Chianti Classico vs 9 tonnes per hectare in Chianti DOCG.
  • Chianti Classico became a DOCG in 1984.
  • 62% of Chianti Classico territory is covered in woodland.
  • There are 11 Additional Geographical Units (UGA) within Chianti Classico.
  • There are 3 main streams of water in the region - Greve, Pesa and Arbia.