Skip to comments.Italian archaeologists have grape expectations of their ancient wine
Posted on 08/28/2013 12:18:19 PM PDT by Renfield
Archeologists in Italy have set about making red wine exactly as the ancient Romans did, to see what it tastes like.
Based at the University of Catania in Sicily and supported by Italy's national research centre, a team has planted a vineyard near Catania using techniques copied from ancient texts and expects its first vintage within four years.
"We are more used to archeological digs but wanted to make society more aware of our work, otherwise we risk being seen as extraterrestrials," said archaeologist Daniele Malfitana.
At the group's vineyard, which should produce 70 litres at the first harvest, modern chemicals will be banned and vines will be planted using wooden Roman tools and will be fastened with canes and broom, as the Romans did....
(Excerpt) Read more at theguardian.com ...
“uh...That might go good on a salad.” - Johnny Blaze, Ghostrider
Yep! Growing grapes was cutting down on the quantity of beer being brewed! Blasphemous!
Weren’t the species in use in the Roman era wiped out in the 19th Century plague?
I really don’t see how there will be any surprises here. The wine will be fair to poor at best, by our standards very similar to your back yard wine maker. This is not to say that wine in Roman times was bad, I’m sure you had good winemakers and poor ones and some great ones. ONce they start this, they should continue making the wine each year with the intent of making it better.
Will they use a wine press or somebody’s nasty smelly feets?.........
Sorta. If you plant a European vine in the ground the Phylloxera will kill it.
But you can graft a European vine to an American root stock, and it will survive. So there are still old European varieties still around thanks to that trick.
According to wine critic and author Kerin O'Keefe, thanks to tiny parcels of vineyards throughout Europe which were inexplicably unscathed, it is still possible to get a taste of wines as they were before the phylloxera devastation.
For no obvious reason, three tiny parcels of ungrafted Pinot Noir escaped phylloxera, making it possible to produce one of the rarest and most expensive Champagnes available: Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Françaises.
A rare vintage port is made from ungrafted vines grown on a small parcel, called Nacional, in the heart of the Quinta do Noval estate. Again, no plausible reason exists why this plot survived while others succumbed.
Another vineyard untouched by the blight is the Lisini estate in Montalcino: a half-hectare vineyard of Sangiovese, with vines dating back to the mid-1800s, which inexplicably never succumbed to phylloxera. Since 1985 the winery has produced a few precious bottles of Prefillossero. The wine has devout followers, including Italian wine critic Luigi Veronelli, who inscribed on a bottle of the 1987, on show at the winery, that drinking Prefillossero was like listening to the earth singing to the sky.
They ought to shoot for Falernian.
Wouldn’t that have to come from Falernia, wherever that is?
It was the primo wine of the Roman Republic and Empire. Apparently both a special variety and a specific location.
“The area is now occupied by the modern day vineyards of Rocca di Mondragone and Monte Massico.”
While largely true that Euro-Grapes are grown on American blight-resistant wild grape root-stock, many of the grape varieties of antiquity have survived, in Italy, Greece, and even in out-of-the-way Roman outposts like Rumania.
I have read that ancient wine was thick and potent, and that it was usually drunk mixed with water, and even flavored with drugs and herbs. Can't wait to see what these archeologists come up with.
Thanks! I knew Marcus Didius Falco drank it, but I never got around to looking up the details.
Couldn’t have been terribly more potent than present wines. Maximum alcohol content without distillation is around 16%.
Higher concentrations the alcohol, which is essentially yeast urine, kills the yeast.
Phylloxera aphid inestations killed many vines, but the louse attacks mostly the roots; grafting vines onto American native rootstocks saved the industry. The old varieties are still grown, on American roots.
the Romans added honey and water to it,” ...Also lead powder.
Modern strains of champagne yeast will ferment to around 22%, and are used to make super-strong beers.
One of my favorite wines is the Dobra Zemlja Zinfandel, which rings in at a stout 16.8% alcohol. It is so flavorful that most folks don’t even taste the alcohol...really good Zin.
Oops, that was supposed to read “aphid”, not “louse”.
I’ve never heard of “lead powder”, but the Romans did boil down grape juice in lead vessels to make a thick syrup, which was added to wine to sweeten it. Of course the acidity in the grape juice dissolved a lot of lead, which ended up in the wine, and therefore, in the body tissues of the Romans...many of whom developed lead poisoning.
It would be fascinating to time travel to a Roman banquet and sample their food and wine. Some of the feasts sound really decadent.