The first wines labelled as Gran Selezione, Chianti Classico’s new top level, were unveiled in February in Florence, amid some controversy. Stephen Brook hears opposing views, picks his best buys and asks whether the category really addresses the importance of terroir

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione: Top tier or just another layer?

Several years ago, some leading winemakers in the Chianti Classico zone decided to push for the creation of a new tier of wines at the very top level. Until now, Chianti Classico Riserva had been the highest category, but one that was open to abuse. A riserva had to be aged longer than regular Chianti Classico and had to meet a few other criteria. But it was within the rules for a producer to give a vat of his regular Chianti some extra ageing and then bottle it as riserva – and charge a higher price. Moreover some riservas were single-vineyard wines, while others were blends. The term had become close to meaningless.