Have you ever bought a bottle of Chianti with a black rooster on the neck? Ever wondered about the significance of the rooster? Read on...
Nowadays you can travel the 80 or so km or about 50 miles between Siena and Florence seamlessly, but back in the Middle Ages everyone was feuding with everyone else, mainly over land. So legend has it that the city fathers decided to settle a boundary dispute between Florence and Siena once and for all. Naturally, they chose a horse and a rooster!
They determined that a rider would set off at dawn from each city and the boundary would be set at the point they met. Since alarm clocks weren't quite invented in the Middle Ages, the rooster would crow, signaling dawn and the start of the trip. The Sienese chose a white rooster and fed him well while the Florentines chose a black rooster. The poor black rooster was starved for several days in the hope that he would wake up hungry and therefore earlier than usual on the fateful day. Sure enough the black rooster, empty stomach and all, woke up early to voice his dissatisfaction, and the Florentine rider was off.
The Sienese rider hadn't been on the road long when he met up with the Florentine, about 20 km from Siena. So the border was set and the black rooster was proudly adopted as the symbol of chianti wine - and Chianti Classico was born!
Chianti Classico as opposed to its relative Chianti, must be made of at least 80% Sangiovese grapes grown in the region of Siena and Florence. It must be aged a minimum of 10 months while its cousin must be aged only a minimum of three months.
Wine tasting in the region is such a fun experience!
This is where we had our Chianti wine tasting. It's also an agriturismo, roughly equivalent to a B&B in the country, or a farm stay.
You also may have noticed the DOCG label on Italian wine bottles. It stands for "Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita", the highest classification that can be bestowed on Italian wines. It assures the buyer that the wine was produced under certain controlled conditions and guarantees its quality. The next time you buy a bottle of Italian wine, look for the DOCG label and the black rooster! Salute!
Ciao Tuscany, a presto!