Chianti Classico, the Black Rooster

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Chianti Classico, the Black Rooster - Blog Across Tuscany Tours

Being a wine lover, you must have heard of Chianti and Chianti Classico before.

How can you not? Chianti is one of the best-known Italian wines in the world and, possibly, one of those words that make people think of Tuscany straightaway.

While you picture its soft rolling hills covered with rows of grapes and olive groves, picturesque stone farmhouses, and quaint hamlets, here's something you should know about the local renowned wine.

Chianti, Tuscany
Chianti, Tuscany

It all began a long time ago... 

A quick look at what we know about winemaking history makes it clear that wine is a long-established tradition in Tuscany, dating back to the mysterious Etruscan times.

Although throughout time the techniques have varied and the delicious drink has had different flavors from the one we're accustomed to, if there's one thing one shouldn't forget about wine, is that it has always been a serious (and tasty) matter.

So, what exactly is Chianti?

First of all, it's a rural area within Tuscany - and, of course, the general name of its wines (the plural is compulsory).
From a geographical point of view, Chianti is a hill-covered land that stretches between Arezzo, Florence, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato, and Siena.

Wine grapes
Wine grapes | photo by Stefan Schweihofer da Pixabay

The earliest mention of a "Chianti wine" dates as far back as 1398, but the historic heart of Chianti as we know it today got appellation status in 1716 thanks to Cosimo III de' Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany.
That is when the idea of safeguarding and distinguishing the wine produced in a restricted region within the Chianti area arose.
Hence, Chianti Classico was born.
Eventually, in 1984 Chianti Classico got the prestigious DOCG status.


The Black Rooster

black rooster is the trademark you can find on every bottle of Chianti Classico.
It's more than just a logo! To be more specific, that symbol stands for the ancient Florentine military League of Chianti comprising the municipalities of Gaiole, Radda, and Castellina.
But why a black rooster?
To understand its origins, we need to go back in time and, well, listen to a bit of a legend.

Radda in Chianti
Radda in Chianti

Florence vs Siena

At the end of the 14th century, Siena and Florence were fighting for taking control of the hills of Chianti.
Battles never seemed to come to an end, so the leaders decided to settle the issue by a competition in which two horsemen would depart at dawn, at first cockcrow, from their own cities and fix the boundary point at where they met.

In the hope that the bird would wake them before the opponent, both cities tried to force their rooster to sing as early as possible.
The Sienesi chose a white rooster and fed him well the night before. The Florentines chose a black rooster and kept it hungry.
Just like any of us would do, having its stomach full the white rooster slept like a log, whereas the black one was up at due time or even earlier, hungry and crowing desperately for food!

As a result, the Florentine horseman was granted a head start and made it almost 12 kilometers outside Siena walls before his rival met him.

Giorgio Vasari, Allegory of Chianti (1563-65)
Giorgio Vasari, Allegory of Chianti (1563-65) | by Sailko [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons / resized from original

Since then, the Black Rooster became the symbol of the Chianti League and, finally, of Chianti Classico wines. It was also immortalized by Giorgio Vasari on the ceiling of the Salone dei Cinquecento at Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.

After all this time, the will to protect and cherish the flavors of Chianti has not changed. There's so much to see and discover: wine and olive oil, castles and typical little Tuscan towns are ready to offer you warm hospitality.
Allow us to suggest our Chianti Classico and Siena Tour!

Chianti garden at sunset
Chianti garden at sunset | photo by Paolo Torrini da Pixabay

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