Classico: Roman Wine II

soave

“Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”  Galileo Galilei

Evening sunlight plays delicately among the luscious grape clusters, casting shadows across the nurturing volcanic soil that feeds the vine. The sun’s vitamin-enriching warmth had done its job. Cool evening breezes softly lend rest for the night.

Evening vineyard

Italy today is a wine-lovers paradise. It’s not just the variety of grapes and tastes, but the wine embraces the ancient tradition of viticulture introduced by the Greeks thousands of years ago. The Romans, eager to adopt their methods, continued to develop vine-growing into a wine that became world renown.

vineyard men

Classico- wine that is grown in the original heart of the zone.

Regions of Italy
Regions of Italy

Let me introduce you to the main wines that have stood the test of a very, very long time in the Roman Empire.

Falernian, wine of the gods.

greco grapesFalerno

“It is the only wine that takes flight when a flame is applied to it.”   Pliny, Roman historian

Falernian, the greatest wine of all times favored by the emperors and popes… Known to mature with age and increase in value, it was grown just north of Naples near the ocean in the region of Campania. After the fall of the Roman empire in the 4th century, Falernian fell out of favor.  Now known as Falerno, it experienced a revival 50 years ago in which the grapes that were used by the Romans were re-discovered through long research. The red, they found, is the Aglianico vine, and the white is believed to be Greco di Tufo.

Pompeiians hoop it up...they loved their Falernian wine!
Pompeiians whoop it up…they loved their Falernian wine! (ancient fresco found in ruins of Pompeii.)
Greco di Tufo
Greco di Tufo- has a good nose

Greco di Tufo, historically a sweet wine, is the oldest white grape variety in Campania. Grown on volcanic soil, it is a clean refreshing wine that needs to be consumed young. Today it is vinified completely dry and paired with sea foods and salads.

 

Soave Classico
Soave Classico for two
Soave is a dry white wine with a light gold color. Grown around Verona in the Veneto region, it is crisp and clean, with an alcohol content of 12%
Valpolicella

ValpolicellaBright red and refined, with smooth fruity notes, this wine is grown in the Veneto, near Verona. Established in the 5th century BC. , it remains a light fragrant table wine.

Orvietto Classico label
Orvietto Classico label

Orvietto is grown in the vineyards around the ancient hilltop town of Orvietto, in the Umbrian region. This wine is a straw-yellow color and delicately flavored. Established by the Etruscans in the 5th century BC, it was the favored wine of the papacy in medieval times!

Chianti Classico with Rooster seal
Chianti Classico with Rooster seal

Ahhhh, Chianti! I love Chianti. Originating with the Etruscans, it is grown in Tuscany between Florence and Siena. It is a glorious red wine with floral notes. The rooster seal on every bottle of Chianti Classico means that the company is a member of the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico. This enables them to protect, oversee and maintain the prices of the Chianti Classico.

Verdiccio dei Castelli di Jesi grapes
Verdiccio dei Castelli di Jesi grapes

Verdiccio dei Castelli di Jesi is a medium bodied dry white wine. Because the grapes are green, the wine is straw-colored with green shades. It is flowery and harmonic. Verdiccio dei Castelli di Jesi is grown in the Marche region of central Italy by the Adriatic coastline.

Bar in Pompeii....Wine, Anyone?
Bar in Pompeii….Vino, Anyone?

The best wines in antiquity were kept in amphorae or glass bottles. They were corked, but lead was used as an extra sealant. Clay, metal or glass cups were used to drink the wine. The Romans kept certain of their finest wines for a very long time. Horace wrote of drinking a vintage that was twice his age. However, most wines were drunk young.

The Greeks and their wine
The Greeks and their wine, they preferred to drink out of shallow bowls.
Ancient Bar in Pompeii
Ancient Bar in Pompeii-notice the celebration happening on the back wall.
Pompeii's Mt. Vesuvius
Pompeii’s Mt. Vesuvius-bad for Pompeii but good for the soil!

Today, each time I enjoy a glass of wine, whether I am in Italy or home, I can’t help but think of the Greeks and Romans. And so I toast to them for giving us one of their many gifts, the gift of wine!

Rome, Trastevere, Forum, Museo Guillia 347
Join me for a glass of Falerno?

*http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/wine/wine.html

*Roman Empire, Nigel Rodgers, 2008 by Anness Publishing Ltd. pgs. 486-487

*http://www.intowine.com/campagnas-white-wines-primer-greco-fiano-and-falanghina

 

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