For those of you who are interested:
Villa dei Misteri, the wine from Pompeii presents Mastroberardino
Where could we start from, if not from the vine, in whose regard Italy's primacy is so unrivalled as to give the impression to have outmatcbed, with this resource alone, the richness of any other Country, even those producing perfum? After all, there is no greatest delight in the world than the fragrance of vine abloom.
(Pliny, Naturalis Historia, XIV, s).
In the lives of the ancient vesuvian peoples, wine played an important role.
Vine cultivation was widespread not only in the countryside, but inside the city of Pompeii itself, in the gardens and orchards that beautified its villas, thus showing how esteemed vine was by its inhabitants. Classical works make ample reference to Campania wines, considered as full-bodied, and to Pompeii's in particular; produced from vine grown on Mount Vesuvius' extremely fertile volcanic slopes.
Archaeological excavations, botanical studies, and finds of vine root casts and of their support stakes confirmed that vine was grown within ancient Pompeii's city walls, especially in the quarters located on the outskirts of the city, near the Amphitheatre, today still marked by the presence of large green areas, used for different purposes.
In Campania wines with new names have recently improved in quality, it is not known whether thanks to appropriate cultivation or chance alone... Pompeian wines, therefore, achieve the best quality over a period of 10 years, and further ageing does not improve them. (Pliny, Naturalis Historia, XIV, 7o)
The project carried out by the Soprintendenza Archeologica and Società Mastroberardino focusing on reintroducing vine growing in the ancient city of Pompeii does not simply imply rediscovering, but also recognising the ancient cultural roots possessed and handed down by this city.
In 1996, the Soprintendenza Archeologica of Pompeii authorised Mastroberardino to experiment vine growing in an area, located between Via Nocera and Via di Castricio, Regio I, anciently used for these purposes. The above mentioned firm agreed to cultivate it following a negotiated and defined plan, fully respecting the area's original conditions.
In march 1996, after root casts were identified during excavations, showing plant position at the time of the 79 A.D. eruption, the experimental vineyard area, some 200 square metre in surface, was tilled for growing. The vines of eight different cultivars, chosen based on bibliographic and iconographic studies carried out on frescos portraying bunches of grapes, were planted in rows:
- Vitis Aminea Gemina (Greco) - Vitis Oleagina (Sciascinoso o Olivella )
- Vitis Apiana (Fiano) - Cauda Vulpium (Coda di Volpe)
- Vitis Hellenica (Aglianico) - Vitis Alopecis (Caprettona)
- Columbina Purpurea (Piedirosso) - Falanghina
As recalled by Pliny, these were the vines producing the grapes used by the romans to make famous white and red wines. Pliny himself stressed that some of them, such as Greco and Aglianico, were imported from Greece in pre-roman times.
If I am not mistaken, from these examples it may be inferred that it is the region and type of soil that have an influence, and not grapes, and that it is no use making a list of all the species, because the same vine will yield different results depending on where it grows.
(Pliny, Naturalis Historia, XIV,7 o).
During experimentation it was discovered that the Aglianico vine was unsuitable to the pedologic and micro-climatic features of the area; indeed, it produced a thick bunch, with very large berries, which would not ripen owing to the fact that berries would break during ripening.
In september 1999, three years after planting, the vines reached maturity and the first grape harvesting took place: the harvest was entirely used for experimental wine-making.
Thanks to the positive results achieved, it was decided to expand cultivation, though limiting it to the two red-berry local varieties, namely Piedirosso and Sciascinoso.
Following archaeological finds and botanic surveys, Regio I and Regio II areas, which in ancient times were, grown with vines, were identified, and planted with 85% Piedirosso, and 15% Sciascinoso (or Olivella) vines.
Hence, the vineyards adjoining the following were devoted to cultivation: Casa della Nave Europa, Osteria del Gladiatore, with a processing cella, featuring a winepress, and buried "dolii" (jars) for collecting must, and an underground cellar which could be accessed from the vineyard through a staircase; Foro Boario, with a processing cella featuring a winepress, and buried jars for collecting must; Casa del Triclinio Estivo.
It was in 2001 that the first wine coming from ancient Pompeii vineyards was produced, following the first significant harvesting, vinification and ageing in wooden casks.
The wine going under the name of VILLA DEI MISTERI (Villa of the Mysteries).
The 2003 vintage sell for around $288 USD.
The truth may be boring, and even unpleasant: But it is always better than half truths and out right lies.
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