Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Chianti Classico: A Black Rooster

Is this a logo you recognize? If so, you are a wine lover, especially a Chianti Classico wine lover. 

This black rooster emblem is a proud designation representing the strict government regulations that oversee every step of Chianti Classico wine production. It guarantees the wine is, indeed, a Chianti Classico that has adhered to all the stringent rules of production of the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium…and they are many. Here are a few: 

According to the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium, Chianti Classico must be comprised of at minimum:
-       80% native Sangiovese grapes
-       20% other native red grapes.
The grapes must also come from the designated Chianti Classico zone. The first classico area was marked out in 1716 by Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici. The area was greatly enlarged in 1932 and legally recognized in 1966.

Chianti Classico zone

The consortium regulates start to finish production with standards that must be followed with specifications set for color, odor, flavor, sugar, alcohol and aging. Grape cultivation and volume of production are regulated. In addition, the wine must pass a test and tasting to comply and wear the black rooster seal.

When buying Chianti Classico wine, you’ll find this logo on a numbered paper seal at the neck of the bottle. A bottle with the black rooster (gallo nero) seal assures you are selecting the best the region has to offer.

 But why a black rooster?
          According to legend...in the 13th century, Florence and Siena came up with a creative way to resolve a border dispute. It was decided that each city would send out its best horseman at the same time and they would travel toward each other. Where they met would determine where the border would be drawn. The crow of a rooster in each city  would mark the start of the competition. The horseman from Siena chose a white rooster and fed him well the night before figuring a well-fed rooster would have a stronger crow to start off the race. The Florentine horseman, instead, chose a black rooster and didn’t feed it on the theory that a hungry rooster would crow earlier. The Florentine horseman was right! The black rooster was up well before dawn crowing loudly in demand of food.  This sent the Florentine horseman on his way much earlier, allowing him to claim practically all of Chianti for Florence. 
          It is believed that this legend established the black rooster as symbol of Chianti up to this day. In 1384, the black rooster was branded as the emblem for the League of Chianti. This became the proud brand for the high quality Chianti Classico.

Visiting Tuscany?
          You may want to pay special attention to visiting towns within the Chianti Classico zone for some superb wine tasting. Just be sure, however, to make reservations ahead of time.

Wine tasting in the Chianti Classico zone

Note > When purchasing Chianti wine, you are choosing from these three types:

Chianti Classico – (black rooster logo) Follows the highest of standards of the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium, but must also be aged a minimum of 12 months in oak barrels, with a minimum alcohol content of 12%

Chianti Classico Riserva – (black rooster logo) Follows the highest of standards of the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium, but must also be aged a minimum of 2 years in oak barrels and at least 3 months in bottles, with a minimum alcohol content of 12.5%

Chianti – (no black rooster logo) Standard Chianti wine not needing to adhere to Chianti Classico Wine Consortium regulations, with a minimum alcohol content of 11.5%

When traveling around the Chianti Classico zone, it's common to see art and sculpture of the black rooster, a proud symbol of the region. It's also a sign that you are in the right place for some darned good Italian wine!
- Nina Spitzer

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