1398 – The first time Chianti is recognized as a wine. At this point, it was a white not a red wine!
1716 – Cosimo III de’ Medici draws up the first official borders for the Chianti region, making certain areas “official” Chianti.
1872 – Baron Bettino Ricasoli, the second Prime Minister of Italy, creates the Chianti recipe of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 15% Malvasia. Prior to this, Canaiolo had been the dominant grape in the blend.
1924 – The Consortium for the Protection of Chianti Wine is founded. The official trademark chosen is the Black Rooster, still used today.
1932 – The suffix “Classico” is added to differentiate Chianti wine made in the territory originally delineated by Cosimo in 1716.
1963 – The Chianti region is expanded and recognized as a DOC or Denominazione di Origine Controllata. When labeled as a DOC, the wine has accompanying laws that govern its permitted grape varieties and wine style.
1970s – Chianti is frequently served in a fiasco, the straw-covered bottle you’d find at inexpensive Italian restaurants and pizza parlors. While Chianti grows increasingly popular, many producers unfortunately begin focusing on mass production vs. quality.
1984 – Chianti is promoted to the status of DOCG, which stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (phew, mouthful!). This is the highest classification for Italian wines and means that the requirements, yields, and standards are stricter than that of DOC status.
1989 – The Chianti Classico Consorzio, a trade group of Chianti producers, develops a project called “Chianti Classico 2000,” which aims to experiment and to identify new clones of Sangiovese that will produce higher quality wines.
1996 – The Chianti laws change to eliminate a minimum amount of white grapes in the blend and to permit up to 15% of international varietals.
1997 – The Chianti vintage is hailed the “vintage of the century,” as producers’ efforts toward quality begin to gain recognition.
2006 – White grapes are no longer permitted in Chianti Classico DOCG wines.
2013 – The Chianti Classico Consorzio creates a new level of Chianti wine – the Gran Selezione. Gran Selezione wines are a level above Chianti Classico Riserva wines, with an additional six months required aging and stricter parameters for growing.
The Legend of the Black Rooster
So, what’s the story behind that random farm animal on your Italian wine label? Read below to learn the background of the Black Rooster– and impress your friends with the story at your next dinner party!
Once upon a time, in the medieval period , the cities of Florence and Siena did not get along so well. Unfortunately for Chianti, it is situated right in between the two warring cities.
After years of fighting for dominance over the Chianti territory, legend has it that the two cities came to a final agreement about how to settle the dispute. A knight from each city would depart at the break of dawn and ride as fast as he could. Wherever the two knights met would be the border between the two republics.
To determine when the knights would depart, they agreed to leave when the rooster crowed at dawn (no cell phone alarm clocks back then). The legend goes that Siena chose a white rooster; Florence, a black rooster. The Florentines, being a little wily and sneaky, kept their black rooster in a small, dark coop and practically starved the rooster into desperation before the big day.
When the day did come, the Florentines let their black rooster out of the coop and, although it wasn’t yet daybreak, the crazed black rooster crowed immediately, giving the thumbs-up for the Florentine knight to begin his ride. This head start meant that by the time the Sienese knight left his post and met up with the Florentine knight, the two were a mere 12 kilometers from Siena.
Hence, Florence claimed nearly all of the Chianti region and the Black Rooster became the official symbol of Chianti Classico.
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