Chianti Classico

 

History pills

 

It was in 1716 when the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo III set the boundaries of the area of production of the Chianti region, the area between the cities of Florence and Siena. Chianti wine was already very successful. 

In 1716 Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, officially delimited the Chianti production zone: an area lying between the cities of Florence and Siena where the homonymous wine was produced and was already enjoying great success. At that time the wine called “Chianti” was made in the territory called “Chianti”.

In the early 20th century, when the fame of Chianti wine was increasing year by year and its production territory was no longer able to meet a growing national and foreign demand, wine began to be made outside the Chianti zone delimited in 1716, which was also called “Chianti” or “Chianti-style” wine.

In 1932 a specific ministerial decree was issued to distinguish the Chianti made in its zone of origin by adding the adjective “Classico”. Since then, Chianti wine produced outside the geographical area has been called “Chianti” while Chianti Classico is the wine made within the original production zone, the one known since 1716 as “Chianti”.

Characteristics

The rules for the production of Chianti Classico wine provide for a minimum ratio of 80% for Sangiovese, the typical red variety of the zone. Along with the Sangiovese, other red grapes of the area can be used in a maximum percentage of 20%. These grapes include natives like Canaiolo and Colorino as well as “international” varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlo.

The Legend

The trademark always found on bottles of Chianti Classico is the Black rooster, historic symbol of the Chianti Military League and among other things depicted by famous artist Giorgio Vasari on the ceiling of the Salone dei Cinquecento at Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.

 

The history of this symbol also includes a curious legend from medieval times recounting an event that in actual fact led to the definition of the political boundaries of the Chianti territory, with a black rooster’s behavior ostensibly decisive.

 

As the legend has it, in medieval times when the Republics of Florence and Siena were bitterly fighting for dominance, Chianti territory – because it lies between the two cities – was constantly fought over. To end the dispute and establish definitive borders of dominion, a very odd method was chosen. It was agreed that two knights would depart from their respective cities and fix the boundary point at where they met. Departure was to be at dawn and the signal to ride given by rooster crow, quite logical for an epoch when daily routines were paced by natural rhythm. In preparing for the event, more importance was given to the choice of the rooster than of the rider or the horse. The Sieneses chose a white rooster, and the Florentines a black one, which they kept in a small, dark chicken coop and practically starved for so many days that it was desperate.

 

On the fatal day, as soon as it was freed from the coop the rooster began to crow, although dawn was still far away. His loud crowing allowed the Florentine knight to set off posthaste and much ahead of his Sienese counterpart who had to wait for daybreak for his rooster to crow. And since the Florentine horseman had such a head start he met up with the Sienese knight at Fonterutoli, a mere 12 kilometers from the latter’s departure point.

 

And so nearly all of Chianti was brought under the power of the Republic of Florence, much earlier than the defeat of Siena itself.

 

 

The Original

 

There has always been an idiomatic-geographic confusion between two different DOCGs: Chianti Classico and Chianti. While in the enological field there are two separate terms, “Chianti Classico” and “Chianti,” from the historical-geographical standpoint there is only the term “Chianti.”

 

For consumers, but even for wine insiders, the borderline between these two contexts is so unclear that the adjective “Classico” is often omitted in describing a Chianti Classico in tastings, comments and articles.

 

In fact, that adjective is very important, because it distinguishes Chianti Classico from Chianti wine. They are two distinct and separate DOCGs, with two different sets of production regulations, production zones and consortiums for the protection of the product.

Characteristics

The rules for the production of Chianti Classico wine provide for a minimum ratio of 80% for Sangiovese, the typical red variety of the zone. Along with the Sangiovese, other red grapes of the area can be used in a maximum percentage of 20%. These grapes include natives like Canaiolo and Colorino as well as “international” varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlo.

The Legend

The trademark always found on bottles of Chianti Classico is the Black rooster, historic symbol of the Chianti Military League and among other things depicted by famous artist Giorgio Vasari on the ceiling of the Salone dei Cinquecento at Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.

The history of this symbol also includes a curious legend from medieval times recounting an event that in actual fact led to the definition of the political boundaries of the Chianti territory, with a black rooster’s behavior ostensibly decisive.

As the legend has it, in medieval times when the Republics of Florence and Siena were bitterly fighting for dominance, Chianti territory – because it lies between the two cities – was constantly fought over. To end the dispute and establish definitive borders of dominion, a very odd method was chosen. It was agreed that two knights would depart from their respective cities and fix the boundary point at where they met. Departure was to be at dawn and the signal to ride given by rooster crow, quite logical for an epoch when daily routines were paced by natural rhythm. In preparing for the event, more importance was given to the choice of the rooster than of the rider or the horse. The Sieneses chose a white rooster, and the Florentines a black one, which they kept in a small, dark chicken coop and practically starved for so many days that it was desperate.

On the fatal day, as soon as it was freed from the coop the rooster began to crow, although dawn was still far away. His loud crowing allowed the Florentine knight to set off posthaste and much ahead of his Sienese counterpart who had to wait for daybreak for his rooster to crow. And since the Florentine horseman had such a head start he met up with the Sienese knight at Fonterutoli, a mere 12 kilometers from the latter’s departure point.

And so nearly all of Chianti was brought under the power of the Republic of Florence, much earlier than the defeat of Siena itself.

The Original

 There has always been an idiomatic-geographic confusion between two different DOCGs: Chianti Classico and Chianti. While in the enological field there are two separate terms, “Chianti Classico” and “Chianti,” from the historical-geographical standpoint there is only the term “Chianti.”

For consumers, but even for wine insiders, the borderline between these two contexts is so unclear that the adjective “Classico” is often omitted in describing a Chianti Classico in tastings, comments and articles.

In fact, that adjective is very important, because it distinguishes Chianti Classico from Chianti wine. They are two distinct and separate DOCGs, with two different sets of production regulations, production zones and consortiums for the protection of the product.