Chianti Pt 2 - The history of the rooster
Chianti Part 2 —the Rooster.
The Chianti Classico region is about 100 miles of land between Florence and Siena. The regions might be friendly enough now, but back in the day—around 800 years ago—there was a territorial feud going on between them. Each wanted a more generous border for its land. To establish official, legal borders, the two cities did what Medieval feuding cities would do – have a race. As legend has it, each city would send a rider at the crack of dawn into the territory, and wherever they met up would be the boundary delineation between the cities. It was clear that whomever got started earlier might win the larger territory and the horsemen had to rely on the only alarm clock method around: roosters. The cities agreed to each select a rooster in the hopes that the bird would wake them. Siena supposedly picked a white rooster and fattened him up, assuming he’d wake up earlier for more food? Florence was a bit savvier, and crueler, selecting a black rooster and essentially starving him to encourage him to wake up earlier. Anyone who has passed out after a Thanksgiving gorge-fest knows, a full stomach is lazily complacent; an empty stomach tends to nudge you awake, drive you to action, and scream at you to feed it like an alarm clock.
And that’s exactly what happened with the little black rooster. Hungry he woke up earlier than the white rooster, cawed his vengeful caw, and the Florentine rider was off to claim a whole bunch of Chianti territory. (Distances vary, but some say the Sienese rider was less than 12 kilometeres into his ride when the Florentine met up with him and did his Medieval victory dance.) The rooster was adopted as an official emblem by the League of Chianti in 1384, and officially adopted by the Chianti Classic Wine Consortium in 2005.