Cannaiolo is an excellent contributor of color and was widely used as the governo grape in Chianti. The governo process involved adding dried grapes to the fully fermented wine to round acidity and tannin and boost color. Modern winemaking techniques have made the process almost obsolete, but Cannaiolo is still used to soften acidity and tannin while adding color to the blend.
The vine is hardy, relatively resistant and moderately productive. Its bunches are medium-size and loosely knit, with berries of exceptionally deep, blue-violet color with smooth, dusky skins. The fruit is moderate to low in tannin and acidity, and the pulp is fleshy, with light pink juice.
A native Italian vine, Cannaiolo Nero is planted almost exclusively in central and south central Italy and Sardinia. As DOC regulations are relaxed to allow higher percentages of Sangiovese as well as non-native varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cannaiolo is declining in importance.