Chianti wines go vegan this spring to satisfy growing demand in export markets

One producer has removed all animal products from the production process - and even from label glue and packing tape

There are things you associate with Tuscany’s celebrated Chianti wines – kitsch straw baskets and the flavours of cherry, plum, spice and almonds, for example. And there are some things you wouldn’t think of, including gelatin from fish-bladder membranes and other agents from bone marrow, egg albumen and crushed crustacean shells.

Traditionally, in the wine-making process, grape juice is filtered through these substances called “fining agents”, to remove protein, yeast, cloudiness, “off” flavours and colourings, and other organic particles. But now in an effort to satisfy the growing number of vegan wine drinkers in major export markets, one producer claims to have made the first certified vegan Chianti, which is on sale this spring.

The wine produced by Fattoria Casabianca near Siena is certified safe for vegans because “the grape is traced every step of the way, from our organically farmed vineyards to the bottle”, Alberto Cenni, the Casabianca manager, told Ansa. This means animal products and derivatives have been eliminated from the field to the cellar, and even from label glue and packing tape, Casabianca’s agronomist, Giacomo Sensi, a vegetarian who oversees the production of 400,000 bottles a years from vineyards between the region’s Ombrone and Merse rivers.

 

The company’s commercial manager, Lorenzo Laschetti, told The Independent that its own research had identified a growing demand for vegan and organic wines in some of its biggest oversees markets, including the UK, Germany and the US, although he noted there wasn’t yet much demand in Italy. “Swapping animal-derived products for plant products to filter the wine is part of our philosophy for the environment. The quality of the wines won’t change in anyway,” he said.

The producer’s entire Colli Senesi product range from the 2014 harvest onwards will be vegan. And its first certified “cruelty-free” Chianti, a rosé, is in the shops now. The first vegan red Chianti will be on sale in May. Prices will stay the same for the vegan wine.

Mr Laschetti said that by the end of this year the company also hoped to earn its organic production certificate for all the sangiovese, canaiolo, cabernet cauvignon, and merlot grapes it grows to make its wines. In addition to satisfying vegans’ ethical tastes, some campaigners say there are health grounds for removing animal products from the production process.

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