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There are eight Chianti zones in Tuscany. The biggest, oldest, and the one that may produce the best wine is the Chianti Classico zone. It is called Classico because of it is the oldest zone of the region and it is in the center of the region. The Chianti Classico zone, a very large area between Florence and Siena, includes all the territories of the communes of Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole, Greve, and Radda in Chianti and parts of Barberino Val d'Elsa, Castlenuovo Berardegna, Poggibonsi, San Casciano Val di Pesa and Tavarnelle Val di Pesa.
In 1924, 33 producers get together in Radda in Chianti and founded a consortium to defend and promote Chianti Classico wine and its symbol of origin, the black rooster.
This symbol has always appeared on the bottles of Chianti Classico produced by consortium members. Not all of the producers of Chianti Classico belonged to the consortium and only members were able to use the black rooster on their bottles. In 2005, however, the black rooster became the emblem of the entire Chianti Classical zone.
The Chianti Classico Consortium had the words Gallo Nero printed over the head of the rooster on the neck label of all of its bottles. A few years ago the Gallo winery in California sued the Consortium and won the case. The words were removed from the label.
The black rooster symbol has origins in both the history and legends of Chianti. It was depicted in a painting by Giorgio Vasari on the ceiling of the Salone del Cinquecento in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence to indicate the military league of Chianti. There is also the legend of the Black Rooster. Florence and Siena in the Middle Ages were always fighting each another over land. The leaders of the rival cities decided to have a horse race to determine the boundary lines. A rider would depart from the capital of each republic and the border would be drawn at the point where the horsemen met. They would set out at dawn by the crowing of a rooster. Siena picked a white rooster and Florence a black rooster. The night before, the black rooster was not fed. It awoke early and the Florentine rider almost reached the gates of Siena before encountering the other rider. The rest is history.
Baron Bettino Ricasoli in the middle of 19 century devised the formula for making Chianti Classico: Sangiovese with such native varieties as Canaiolo and Colorino. Two white grapes had to be included, Trebbiano and Malvasia. It could not be 100% Sangiovese. Many producers back then used the governo method. Ten percent of the grapes (Canaiolo) were dried and then added to the wine. I believe that there is only one producer today, Querciavalle, that still uses this method.
Over the years the percentages and the grapes have changed. Currently, the percentage of Sangiovese is 80% to 100%. Native varieties such as Canaioio and Colorino or foreign ones including Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot can be added up to 20%. As of the 2006 vintage, the white grapes are no longer allowed.
Chianti Classico can be aged in wood, steel tanks or glass lined cement tanks; the normale is aged for one year before it is released. The riserva must be aged at least two years and an additional three months in bottle and have an alcohol content of at least 12.5% before it can be released. The riserva is a wine that can age for a number of years. The riserva had a gold circle around the black rooster but that stopped in 2005.
"I LOVE CHIANTI" !!!
The aroma of a garlic-laden tomato sauce spiked with Sausage, Meatballs, and rolled-up meat Braciola can bring tears to the eyes of many Italian-Americans.
Sunday Gravy, also known as Sunday sauce, evokes memories of weekend family gatherings in which mom or grandma presided over the constantly stirred pot of sauce and meat, and various relatives were tasked with procuring the essential provisions—the cannoli and sesame bread from the bakery or the wine from the cellar.
Sunday gravy was more than just a big, belt-loosening meal. In close-knit Italian-American homes, it was a virtual religion. “Each Sunday, we were constantly traveling to homes of different relatives,” says John Mariani, a New York food author whose books include How Italian Food Conquered the World. “It truly was a moveable feast.’’
The proprietors of Frankies Spuntino restaurant in Brooklyn, Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo, write that “Sunday sauce—the meal, the menu, the way of life—is the source and summation’’ of their restaurant business.
They recall how on Sundays their family kitchens would “start to fill with that hunger-inducing humidity, the tomato and pork simmering away in the pot.’’
Castronovo remembered that Sundays “even when I was a teenager and wanted to be a punk … I’d still stop and eat at my grandma’s house before the rest of the day went down.”
The best Sunday gravy simmers on the stove for hours, permitting the ingredients (the meat choices are seemingly limitless) to infuse the sauce with an unparalleled meatiness that no quickie marinara could ever hope to replicate. The long, slow cooking time was also time for families to spend with each other, reinforcing ties that could withstand the harsh realities of the outside world.
In a way, the history of Sunday gravy encapsulates the story of Italian immigration to the U.S. and the prosperity succeeding generations found in America. “Very, very impoverished Southern Italian women, whose only reason for living was giving birth to children and feeding them, suddenly found an abundance of cheap food in the U.S.,” Mariani says. “It radically changed their self image.”
The meats in the sauce became a symbol of plenty. Meat had been a rarity in the old country, and if there was any of it at all in a meal, it was usually pork. But in the U.S., immigrant women bought beef “because they could."
Before his father’s parents would bless the marriage, Mariani’s grandmother “demanded that my mom must learn how to make Sunday gravy.”
Along with the other staples of Italian-American cuisine, Sunday gravy has vaulted from family food to the culinary mainstream, even as a once-in-a-while treat for today’s health-conscious eaters. TV food stars Rachael Ray and Giada De Laurentiis regularly feature touched-up variations on the classic Italian-American repertoire. And, although “The Sopranos” is widely despised by Italian-Americans for its twisted depiction of their cherished family values, the show often featured sumptuous Sunday meals with pots and pots of sauce, meat, and pasta—and the cookbook spawned by the show features a Sunday gravy recipe.
For better or worse, 21st-century America has made celebrating the Sunday tradition much more difficult for families. “Sunday is now a time for attending soccer games, getting in 18 holes of golf … or watching three NFL games without interruption,” Mariani says.
But Mariani and other Italian-American food advocates nevertheless remain intent on keeping tradition alive. “My family still gets together on Sunday afternoons just as it always has, and the food is as good as it ever was,” Falcinelli wrote in The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual. “Growing up, I didn’t see it as an amazing culinary tradition, but I did appreciate how good the eating was.”