Canaiolo is an Italian native variety perhaps originated from Tuscany. In the history of Chianti it has been a key component for blends and during the XVIII century may have been the primary grape used in higher percentage than Sangiovese. In XIX century appeared modern Chianti recipe where Sangiovese described as a dominant grape, with Canaiolo added to soften its tannins and to bring some fruit into the blend. Nowadays together with Sangiovese and Colorino it is still often used to create Chianti wine, as well as Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Other regions with plantings of Canaiolo include Lazio, Marche and Sardegna.
Phylloxera epidemic devasted all European vineyards in the end of XIX century and later exposed unique difficulties that Canaiolo has with grafting onto new American rootstocks – as a result of it the grape began to steadily fall out of favor.
Today there are renewed efforts by Tuscan winemakers to find better clonal selections and re-introduce the variety into popular usage. For instance in the coastal province of Massa Carrara some winemakers experiment with particular biotype of the variety found in the area – Canaiolo Nero, locally called Uva Merla. If it is cultivated with appropriate commitment and respect to local terroir, it can be vinified into convincing medium-bodied varietal wine with elegant tannins, showing great extractive finesse with balsamic and mineral aromas.