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Every year Chianti Classico wines are sold on the markets of over 130 countries worldwide: this is a far-reaching distribution network for a designation that has a great deal to express in order to highlight its unique qualities in an increasingly globalised context.
Chianti Classico is the oldest wine-producing territory in the world, and represents one of Italy’s most fascinating stories. As such, it needs its standard-bearers: the ambassadors.
Following last year’s appointment of the first five honorary Gallo Nero ambassadors, for the Italian, Canadian, American and Japanese markets (Massimo Castellani for Italy, Jeffrey Porter for the USA, Michael Godel and Michaela Morris for Canada, and Isao Miyajima for Japan), this year the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico has decided to offer a single nomination, for the English market.
This is an extremely prestigious name, well-known in the world of wine, as his biography – summarised below – will show. This person has recently published his autobiography, with a title that encapsulates his passion: “Wine: A Way of Life”.
In case you haven’t guessed yet, we’re talking about Steven Spurrier, nominated today, Monday 11th February, at Chianti Classico Collection 2019.
Currently consulting editor for Decanter magazine and chairman of the Decanter Wine Awards, Steven Spurrier began his career in the wine sector in 1964 and a few years later moved to Paris where he bought a wine shop in 1971, and in 1973 established the Academie du Vin, the first independent school in Paris.
In 1976 he organised the first blind tasting between French and Californian Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, the “Judgement of Paris”, and in the 1980s he wrote many essays on wine and created the Christie’s Wine Course, with then-director of the wine department, Michael Broadbent, senior reporter for Decanter.
In 1988 Spurrier returned to the UK to focus on writing and his wine consultancy with clients like Singapore Airlines. He has won countless awards, such as La Personalité de l’Année (wine) 1988 for services to French wine, and the Maestro Award in honour of Californian legend André Tchelistcheff (2011); he is chairman of the Wine Writers Circle and founder of the Wine Society of India. Spurrier also produces his own sparkling wine, Bride Valley Brut, from his vineyard in Dorset. In 2017 he was named “Man of the Year” by Decanter Magazine and honorary Chairman of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.
But perhaps not everyone will know that during a life dedicated to promoting fine quality wines, Steven Spurrier has also devoted a great deal of time to Chianti Classico, and was a forerunner of the ranks of wine critics who have believed in the quality and development potential of the Gallo Nero designation.
Spurrier has demonstrated affection for and attachment to our production zone, where he spends a brief holiday almost every year, as well as through his positive reviews of Gallo Nero wines and the potential of the Chianti territory.
Back in 2007, for example, Spurrier published an article predicting that Chianti Classico would replace Médoc wines in the hearts and cellars of many enthusiasts, both English and international.
This prediction was based on the conviction that Chianti Classico had fundamentally remained a “vineyard-driven” wine. He thus highlighted the wine-territory pairing that has always been a must for understanding and enjoying Gallo Nero wines.
“Here’s a prediction for you – by the beginning of the next decade, Chianti Classico will be replacing Médoc in many a wine lover’s cellar. The simple reason is that Chianti Classico is still vineyard-driven, while Médoc has become market-driven. The result is wines with energy and individuality on one hand and semi-standardised concentration on the other”. (Decanter, October 2007)
Regarding the notification of his appointment as honorary ambassador for Chianti Classico, Spurrier remarked: “I have attended Chianti Classico Previews for over 20 years, but I’ve been drinking Chianti Classico for over 50. I am often asked to express an opinion about my favourite wine, and I always answer that there are too many excellent wines to choose just one; but if there is a wine I would always want in my cellar, that wine is Chianti Classico, and thanks to its excellent quality, that’s truer today than ever”.
The award honouring Spurrier at the Stazione Leopolda is part of the “Chianti Classico Ambassador” project, which aims to create a network of Gallo Nero Ambassadors in its leading markets, launched by the Consorzio in two stages: the first in Canada where, during 2017, the Ambassadors were nominated for the provinces of Ontario, Québec and British Columbia; the second in the USA in 2018. In this case, the non-honorary candidates had to demonstrate their knowledge of the designation through an actual contest. In 2019 it will be Great Britain’s turn, where the contest will probably take place in the second half of the year.
“From overseeing the international wine markets every year, we have come to realise how much knowledge and affection there is for our wines on behalf of the expert and qualified public,” says Giovanni Manetti, Chairman of the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico.
“We wanted to honour those professionals – concludes Manetti – and validate them as standard-bearers for Gallo Nero in their own native markets, through a project designed for them, in the hope that over the coming years the team of Ambassadors will increase in size. As far as Spurrier’s nomination is concerned, I personally am gratified and honoured that a prestigious leader of the wine community like Steven has so enthusiastically accepted our award”.