Barone Ricasoli’s original formula for Chianti – a subject of hot debate for over 100 years – is about to be published as part the legendary founder’s bicentenary celebrations.
Bettino Ricasoli, famed as the man who invented Chianti as well as being one of the founders of Italy, celebrates his 200th birthday this year.
Ricasoli, who was born in 1809, is credited with establishing the modern form for Chianti.
At Brolio, his Tuscan estate, Ricasoli experimented widely and hit upon the idea of a blend that could be served every day as well as being capable of improving with ageing.
In the 1890s he came up with the basic blend: an average 70% Sangiovese as the varietal base, along with 15% Canaiolo, and 15% Trebbiano – a white grape – and sometimes a little Colorino (red).
What the perfect Chianti blend should be has been a matter of often impassioned debate since then.
Ricasoli was also instrumental, along with legendary Italian statesmen Cavour and Garibaldi, in unifying modern Italy as a nation-state.
In 1859 he founded the La Nazione, the newspaper dedicated to that ideal, and now Italy’s oldest newspaper.
‘La Nazione [was] destined to become an integral part of the lives of Florentines, and Tuscans in general,’ a statement from Barone Ricasoli says.
Francesco Ricasoli (pictured), the 32nd Barone Ricasoli and great-great-great grandson of Bettino, was presented last week with a medal reproducing the first page of the first edition of La Nazione – created at the Lucca Mint, which has been minting coins for 1150 years.
To celebrate the bicentenary of Bettino’s birth, Barone Ricasoli is planning a book containing unpublished letters between Bettino and a Professor Studiati of the University of Pisa.
In the exchange, Ricasoli describes the ‘sublime wine’ he is creating – and also clarifies exactly what the ‘formula’ for Chianti should be.
Written by Adam Lechmere