In Search of the Black Rooster

January 22, 2013 / Food & Wine
Greve in Chianti, Tuscany
Not the Black Rooster, but Interesting NonethelessSitting 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. Finally, around 1200, they agreed to end the feud with a competition.

Chianti Classico logoHorsemen were to depart from rival the cities at the crow of a rooster. Wherever they met would determine the boundary lines and settle the dispute once and for all. While the Senesi 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 Senese 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 since! Don’t you think that he (and the cunning of the Florentines) deserve a toast? Salute!

Additonal Source: The Legend of the Black Rooster, by Terry Sullivan

Chianti Classico - Time to Taste!

Black Rooster & Flag of Italy
Buon appetito!
The Black Rooster Sits Proudly in the Center of Town
Wine Tasting in Chianti Country

Hillsides of Chianti Country

Victoria De Maio

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18 Responses to “In Search of the Black Rooster”

  1. I have traveled to the Chianti region and spent a night in Greve (and long to return). The black rooster is present everywhere in this area. Enjoyed this little bit of lore! Mille Grazie

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  2. An absolutely great legend!!! What I love the most about Italy is how history, myth and lore are hard to separate. This story is so jovial and yet rings so true. I love my Chianti! Thanks!

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  3. natalie marchetta-looman

    visited here last summer, great little town in chianti and AMAZING wine. the nearby castello di verrazzano was beautiful as well. worth the ride out of firenze.

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  4. I have stayed at Villa Le Barone twice and both times visited Greve. What a charming place.

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  5. Paul Huckett

    Every glass of a beautiful Chianti during our long hot summer in Australia transports me back to Italy – Cheers to the Black Rooster !

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  6. Aaahh, the early-bird caught the worm because he was not only early but darn hungry! :)

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  7. Colleen Simpson

    Loved this posting! Did self-guided walking tour of Chianti years ago and the Black Rooster was everywhere. Really liked knowing the legend behind the symbol. Grazie Mille!

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  8. George Kucinskas

    Another story I know of the Black Rooster (Gallo Nero) is of a Renaissance painting of Bacchus who is the god of wine (I am not sure of who the artist is). At his feet scurrying on the floor was a black rooster. Since Bacchus was the god of wine, this association between he & the “gallo nero” was to live on.

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  9. Grazie for the comments and input. As with all the other great lore and legends, it makes everything so much richer and more interesting (and more fun!). Surely beats having some Madison Ave. logo, doesn’t it? Salute!

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  10. What the Sienese love about this legend is that in the long run, they nevertheless got the better of the Florentine. Castellina, Gaiole and Radda in Chianti, which are the towns that were part of the original Lega del Chianti (the Chianti league), now all belong to the province of Siena. In fact, if I’m counting right the majority of the towns allowed to produce Chianti Classico nowadays, are based in the province of Siena. Thanks god for that (-;

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  11. Joe /Louise Stillittano

    The year 2001 we visted Rocca della Maci`e vineyards in Castle in Chanti. It was a vacation to remember, regarding Gallo Nero.
    Wonderful time and beautiful wine which was spent with a family party of 25 adults and children.

    Reply
  12. MHBoyette

    I was in Greve in Chianti in June and purchased wine glasses with the Black Rooster etched on them.  I would like to purchase more but do not have the name of the shoppe in Greve where I got them.  Does anyone know where I might order them from?
    MHBoyette

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  13. Barbara Smith

    Is the black rooster only for the authenticity of Chianti Classico, or all Chianti’s. I’ve like Gabbiano but there is no rooster, I actually don’t like the Classico of this brand. Thanks You

    Reply

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