The Legend of the Black Rooster, the Symbol of the Chianti Classico
The Black Rooster is a very important symbol for all the Chianti Classico producers. When it is placed on the neck of a bottle, or on the label, it makes it possible to distinguish a wine that has been produced within the territory of Chianti Classico (a Chianti Classico wine) from those that have been produced outside the Chianti Classico territory, i.e., Chianti wines in Tuscany without the affix “Classico “ and without the Black Rooster.
The symbol dates to the Middle Ages when it was used by the Lega del Chianti, a political and military institution that was created by the Republic of Florence to control the Chianti area. The backstory to the Black Rooster symbol makes a fascinating tale.
The story goes that in the Middle Ages, after years of a bloody war between the Republic of Florence and Siena over the control of the Chianti area, it was decided to put an end to the war and to settle the borders between the two Republics by means of an unusual competition.
On a specified day, awakened by the crow of a rooster, two knights would ride off each from their own hometowns, and the border would be drawn at the point where they met.
The Siena people chose a white rooster to wake the knight up at dawn and during the days before the event, they treated him to all possible comforts and fed him well. The Florentines instead chose a black rooster that they put in an uncomfortable cage and starved for several days.
At the day of the race, the black rooster of the Florentines, that by then was desperately famished where he sat in the horrible cage, started crowing before dawn. The Florentine knight thus got a head start with respect to the knight from Siena, whose rooster was well fed, relaxed, and happy, woke up crowing long after dawn.
That was how the knights met just a few kilometres outside of Siena, close to Fonterutoli where the border between the two Republics was drawn.
The image below shows how the logo has developed over the years. From the original symbol of the Lega del Chianti to the emblem that was in use during most of the 20th century (where the nomenclature has been changed several times), to the one that entered the scene in the early 2000s, and last, but not least, the present one that was redesigned 2013.