Last Updated: 22nd Feb 2014
In a country famous for its vino (wine), Chianti is easily one of the most famous wines produced in Italy. This red wine gets it’s distinct flavour and taste from the sangiovese grapes that are grown on the hill sides of Tuscany.
The region became the worlds first legally recognized wine producing region in the year 1716 when the Grand Duke of Florence defined the boundaries of the region and since then, Chianti has become one of the most well known (and sought after) varieties of wine on the planet.
The borders of the Chianti region have also been expanded however the heart of the original wine producing region is now know as the ‘Chianti Classico’ region.
On bottles of Chianti, as well as many other bottles of wine in Italy, there is a pink (sometimes green) label around or over the neck of the bottle. This label is the DOC or ‘Denominazione di origine controllata’ is an assurance that your bottle of wine was actually produced in the region that it claims to be.
As well as wine produced in the Chianti region, there is also a smaller region within the region known as the Chianti Classico region.
In addition to this DOC label, bottles produced in the Chianti Classico region also include added logo, an emblem of the Chianti Classico region – the silhouette of a black rooster – or the ‘Gallo Nero’ in Italian.
During the Middle Ages Florence and the near-by city of Sienna were effectively separate countries and were always at war with each other. Legend has it that the two cities tired of fighting with each other and they decided to peacefully settle their border disputes once and for all.
It was decided that on a set day, when the rooster crowed, a man from each city would set off on horseback and where they eventually met would be the border between the two towns.
This was back in the time before clocks and watches so each city had to choose a rooster as their ‘starting gun’ for the race. The leaders of Sienna were very proud of their big, fat, healthy white rooster while it somewhat puzzled them why the Florentines chose a scrawny, half starved black rooster.
The white rooster of Sienna was pampered and well fed while the black rooster of Florence was kept hungry and half-starved.
Come the morning of the race, the black rooster was awake and crowed early because it was hungry. This gave the ride from Florence a huge head start and the Florentines claimed a great deal of land as the white rooster in Sienna was still asleep.
The farmers living in the Chianti area gave thanks for the end of the wars and took on the black rooster as their symbol and emblem.
The rivalry between the two cities continues today, mostly on the football (soccer) field though and the black rooster still stands as the symbol of the Chianti Classico region.
Although any Chianti with the DOC label is real Chianti, only Classico bears the symbol of the black rooster.
Keep your eye out for the black rooster as you tour and travel through Italy and enjoy the vino.