Exploring the technique and tradition of food and wine through storytelling

Why is there a Black Rooster on all bottles from Chianti Classico?

In 13th century Italy, Florence and Siena wanted to settle their Chianti border dispute. The method they decided to use was a horse race. One rider from Florence would start riding toward Siena and at the same time, a rider from Siena would leave toward Florence. The idea was that where the two riders met would be the new border of the two territories.

How would they coordinate departure times? The first mechanical clocks were not invented in Europe until the beginning of the 14th century. They needed another method to coordinate departure times. The plan was that when the rooster first crowed in the morning, the rider would begin the journey. The sun rises at the same time over these areas, so the roosters should crow at about the same time.

Those Florentines had a trick up their sleeve. They put a black rooster in a box with no light and no food for a few days. On the day of the race, they released the rooster early morning before the sunrise. As soon as the rooster left the box, it began to crow. The rider left Florence, technically following the rules.

Later, the rooster in Siena crowed and the Sienese rider left. By this point, the Florentine rider was far along the journey. The two met just 20 meters outside the walls of Siena. That is now where Chianti Classico is located. Chianti is a larger wine region, and Chianti Classico is a smaller region inside Chianti.

Some say that Chianti Classico is superior to Chianti. Some say look for the black rooster to know you are getting a good wine. I think that is for you decide on your own.

This legend lives on now as the emblem of the black rooster on all Chianti Classico Bottles.

Salute!

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