News from Montalcino & Chianti...

Yields to be cut in Montalcino, Quantities of wines OFFERED FOR SALE to be cut in Chianti:" onclick=";return false;

Good move by the Chianti group, as their USA importers and distributors, for the most part, are more interested in saving their own asses than stabilizing the prices of Chianti Classico wines.

There’s so much discounting and dumping going on right now, that I’m sure many of the brands involved are going to be stuck down-market for awhile.

I support my favorite producers being able to make a decent living, but as a consumer I certainly don’t mind seeing prices come back to earth a bit after some steep climbs over the past few years.

That said, quotes from the consortiums such as “The consortium of Chianti Classico producers has decided to put less of the famous wine on the market in order to stabilise prices… " sounds too much like a Vino-version of OPEC to me. As much as I like Super Tuscans and Chianti, if prices go back up based on mandated or manipulated cut backs in supply, I will have no problem cutting back on my Chianti purchases just as I cut back on $4.50/gal gas last year. Heck, I might even have to go back to Aussie Shiraz for a while. One thing this economic downturn taught me is that there are actually some decent $10-$20 wines out there (ie 2007 CdR).

My 2 cents: $.01) The current lower prices are an opportunity to reach new customers that probably would not have bought at the higher price; and $.02) Let the individual wineries decide how much they want to produce. The good ones will get by just fine as they always have.


This is an incredibly simplistic world view, in addition to being false. Plenty of Chianti wineries have had hard times within the past few decades, and I think such a cavalier dismissal of the real problems that face the producers is a real disservice to what they do and is symptomatic of the romantic view Americans have of Italy (for better and for worse).

Anyway, my comment was vis-a-vis “dumping,” and the driving downward, deeply, of prices, not about maintaining exorbitantly high, or artificially high, prices. If prices go too low, it destroys not only the lousy and marginal wineries, but makes being profitable for all wineries in the zone, extremely difficult, and ultimately, will drive quality down as well. Not too low, not too high is the paradigm.

Note: Original post edited after Roberto’s note below indicating the Consortium was not dictating a cut in production, but putting less inventory on the market to stabilize prices. I had read the article earlier in the day and came back to post in the evening. I should have re-read the article, as I blended the first paragraph on the Brunello Consortium cutting maximum yields with the second paragraph on the Chianti consortium putting less inventory on the market. Sorry. [truce.gif]

Chaad, I presumed the dumping is related to the current global economy, yet you say that “plenty of Chianti wineries have had hard times the last few decades”, which would rule out global economics as a problem. What are the real problems that face the producers that I cavalierly dismissed? Not trying to be sarcastic, as I love the region and would truly like to know. Is it simply over production? Is it that there are too many wineries? All I know is that the Chianti wineries I have enjoyed over the past five years have not seen much of a price drop. Take Fontodi as an example. The 2006 wines seem to be at their normal price points, and the 06 Flaccianello is still in the $70-100 range (with Mr. Manetti stating that any bottle in the US at less than $100 is gray market and should be avoided –even though it is available in Europe for e45/$65).

Chianti dumping issues aside, the 20-30% reduction in Brunello prices from the 2003 to 2004 vintage stimulated me (along with the better vintage) to increase my normal purchase from 1 mixed case to 4 mixed cases. I think this shows that a reasonable price drop can have a very positve effect on consumer purchasing. I have not (yet) seen a similar reduction in the Chianti wines I normally purchase, such as Fontodi and Felsina, so have not increased my purchases there. End result this year for me was more money to the Brunello producers and the same or less money to the Chianti producers. I’ll hope stabilization of Chianti prices (across the spectrum for the Consortium) via restricting inventory for sale will not mean restricted inventory or price increases on those producers whose wines were not dumped, but I’ll have to presume it will.


Maybe. There is a lot more Sangiovese wine arriving all the time. Even in the grocery stores of Cleveland I hear them touting wines from Marche and elsewhere as “the same grape in Chianti, just as good, only cheaper”. And you know what, lots of times, that is true.

Heck, even Antinori doesn’t use Chianti for what used to be his CCR and is now labeled Toscana.

They aren’t limiting production. They are putting less inventory on the market and saving more back to sell later for more money when those wines age and the economy is better.

Roberto, thanks for the clarification. I have edited my second post above.