Sitting proudly in the heart of Chianti country is Greve in Chianti, renamed in 1972 after the area’s inclusion in the Chianti wine district. Almost midway between Florence to the north and Siena to the south, the central piazza occupies its heart and its heart belongs to Chianti Classico, home of the Black Rooster.
The Black Rooster emblem is 700 years old and it is far more than a symbol. It is a proud designation and represents the strict government regulations, overseeing everything from the yield to production, that uphold the reputation of Chianti Classico. Branded in 1384 as the emblem for the League of Chianti, today the label is placed on the neck of a bottle of wine from the Chianti Classico zone.
But why a Black Rooster? Well, that is where the legend comes in… Red wine had been produced in this area since around 1000 A.D. and Florence and Siena long feuded over rights to this region now referred to as the Chianti Classico zone. Finally, around 1200, they agreed to end the feud with a competition.
Horsemen were to depart from rival the cities at the crow of a cock. Wherever they met would determine the boundary lines and settle the dispute once and for all. While the Sienese chose a well-fed white rooster, the cunning Florentines chose a starving black rooster. On the day of the event the white rooster dutifully crowed at sunrise, but the poor hungry black rooster had begun to crow long before, thus giving the Florentine rider a considerable advantage. The Sienese horseman didn’t get very far and borders were established with the region now belonging to Florence.
True or not, it makes a great story and that starving Black Rooster has been immortalized on every bottle of Chianti Classico! Don’t you think that he (and the cunning of the Florentines) deserve a toast? Salute!
Source: The Legend of the Black Rooster by Terry Sullivan