The Black Cock of Chianti - Northwestern Wine

The Black Cock of Chianti

The Gallo Nero

Chianti is a popular wine in Sligo and elsewhere in Ireland too. Bottles of this wine frequently display an image of a black cock or rooster – the Gallo Nero – which has become the symbol of Chianti. It is now also the symbol of the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium. This region is, of course, located in Tuscany. There is a wonderful legend of how Chianti became part of Tuscany and the role the Gallo Nero played.

The Riders from Siena and Florence

Tuscany is the former Republic of Florence and its neighbour was, in Medieval time, the Republic of Siena. There had been a long dispute between the two Republics about their border.  The ownership of the Chianti region which lay between them was unclear. To settle the location of the border definitively, each Republic chose a horseman. One would ride from Siena and the other from Florence. Where they met would define the location of the border. They would begin to ride toward each other at cock crow. The designated Sienese cock was white while the Florentine cock was black.

Legend says the Florentine cock was starved deliberately to make it cantankerous. On the appointed day, the Florentine cock crew well before dawn and, therefore, well before his white Sienese counterpart.  As a result, the rider from Florence departed with a huge advantage since the white cock waited for first light to crow. They met, the legend says, at Fonterutoli about 50 kilometers from Florence but only 20 from Siena.  In this manner, the Florentine Republic, later Tuscany, claimed most of Chianti.  The evocatively-named villages of Castellina, Radda and Brolio are in the background of Giorgio Vasari’s Allegory of Chianti above with the black cock in the left foreground.  You can check out our Tuscan wines here and more Italian wine from other regions has been added too.

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