The registered trademark that has always distinguished the bottles of Chianti Classico is the Gallo Nero, the historic symbol of the ancient Chianti Military League, which was frescoed, among others, by the Italian painter Giorgio Vasari on the ceiling of the Salone dei Cinquecento, in the Florentine Palazzo Vecchio.
Chianti Classico wine is produced with at least 80% Sangiovese grapes (but it can also be used alone). Other red grape varieties may contribute to the Chianti Classico blend, starting from those autochthonous, like Canaiolo Nero and Colorino, to the main international grapes, like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The story of this symbol also includes a unique legend from the medieval era, which basically marked the politic demarcation of the borders of the entire Chianti territory, as it was exactly the behaviour of a black rooster (in Italian Gallo Nero) to mark its destiny.
Legend has it that in the medieval period, when the Republics of Siena and Florence were fighting fiercely to take precedence over each other, the Chianti territory was continuously the subject of dispute precisely because it was located between the two. To put an end to this, and to establish a final boundary, a bizarre and unique system was adopted. It was agreed that a line would be drawn at the rendezvous point of two horsemen: one starting from Florence, the other from Siena. The departure was arranged for sunrise, when a rooster would have given the go-ahead signal, as at the time these natural mechanisms were still articulating the rhythms of ordinary life. In preparation for this event, the choice of the rooster was the most important one, even more than the one of the horse or the rider. The Sienese chose a white rooster, while the Florentines a black one which was caged in a fasted state, in order to have a desperate crow.
On the crucial day, as soon as the black rooster was pulled out of the roost, it started to greatly crow even though the sun was still far from rising. The Florentine rider therefore started his race with a large advantage over the Sienese one, who had to wait for dawn as his rooster was roosting at the regular time. Because of his considerable delay, the Sienese horseman had only travelled 12 km when he met the other rider in Fonterutuli.
This was how the whole Chianti territory was taken under the Florentine Republic’s control, long before the fall of the Siena itself.