Weren’t the species in use in the Roman era wiped out in the 19th Century plague?
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.
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.
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.