In our last blog post, we took at a look at some of the principle differences between Chianti and Chianti Classico. Namely, Chianti Classico is considered the most traditional and best quality expression of the wine, and is comprised of a smaller territory than Chianti wines. At Viticcio, we only produce Chianti Classico wines in this category. Something else that distinguishes the wines is the symbol on Chianti Classico’s bottle: the silhouette of a black rooster on a white background, surrounded by a burgundy ring.
A rooster seems to be a…unique choice to represent a wine that, for many people, is not just symbolic of Tuscany but all of Italy. Where did the idea come from, and what does the symbol mean? It turns out that, like all the best stories, there is a great legend behind Chianti Classico’s symbol.
The legend and history behind Chianti Classico’s black rooster
Current-day Chianti Classico (its borders officially declared in 1716 by the Grand Duke Cosimo III de’ Medici) sits right between Florence and Siena. Throughout the centuries, this land was constantly contested over by the rival cities. The territory’s principle town—Greve in Chianti—is almost exactly at the halfway point. What today is a wonderful convenience for exploring two of Tuscany’s most important cities (Viticcio is only 40 km from Siena and 30 km from Florence) was once a point of strife and contention.
According to legend, the distinctive insignia of Chianti Classico comes from this competition. In the 13th century, two knights—one from Siena and one from Florence—were appointed to awaken at the crack of dawn when the rooster crowed and to ride towards each other. Where they met would define the borders of their land. The tricky Florentines boxed up a poor black rooster for several days without food or light before the race, so when they took him from his confined space, hungry and probably riled up as only a neglected rooster can be, he crowed much earlier than dawn. The rider from Florence set out and managed to get within only twenty kilometers of Siena’s walls.
Today, the symbol of Chianti Classico is the silhouette of this “Gallo Nero,” or black rooster on a white background with a burgundy border encircling it.