Tuscany has many endearing legends that serve to enhance an already mystical land of beauty and grace. The Chianti Classico area of Tuscany is situated nearly at the center of the map between Florence to the north and Siena to the south. Grieve in Chianti sits at the heart of the Chianti Classico range of vineyards that produce Chianti Classico. This wine has been produced for nearly 1000 years, at least since the 13th century. Today, its ingredients are carefully monitored and controlled.
Chianti Classico must be made from 75–100% Sangiovese grapes, and may include up to 10% Canaiolo grapes, and up to 20% of any other approved red grape variety such as Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. White grapes are not allowed as an ingredient. Chianti Classico is included as one of the “Super Tuscan” wines.
There are other Chianti wines of course. But, Chianti Classico is made distinct, not only by its ingredients, but also by its label. Every bottle of Chianti Classico has a pink label with a Black Rooster seal which has been used since 1924 to not only distinguish the wine from others, but as a marketing tool and to prevent imposters from being mistaken as the real thing. The Black Rooster symbol comes from a delightful, legendary tale.
Legend has it that the Black Rooster symbol arose from a feud between Florence and Siena, which were always feuding about most everything. The rivalries between the two republics in the Middle Ages were mostly about which republic was the more powerful. Land boundaries also were continuously in dispute. Knights in shining armor and a couple of roosters resolved the issue.
The border dispute was resolved by both Siena and Florence selecting one knight and one rooster to represent their respective cities. The knights were to depart from the hometowns at the first cockcrow. When they met each other, it was there that the land boundary would be drawn, on that exact spot. The two cities set about carefully choosing their roosters for this important task. Sienna chose a white rooster and Florence chose a black rooster.
Siena’s white rooster was coddled and fattened and spoiled. The black rooster from Florence did not fare so well. He was never fed and purposely starved. On the day that the knights were to begin their rides, the black rooster was so hungry that he began crowing loudly long before sunrise. The knight from Florence got a huge head start, so the boundaries of the republic of Florence were increased because of a skinny, black rooster.
The black rooster continues to serve his region well, nearly 1000 years later. His picture is seen on every label of authentic Chianti Classico. Look for him on the neck of every bottle of Chianti Classico, proudly serving the region as the wine is poured!