Today’s article is
from “The Telegraph” (UK) and talks about the plans to replicate the Roman
method of wine making:
Do as the Romans do:
ancient winemaking techniques revived
The techniques that the ancient Romans employed
to make their beloved wine are being revived in a sun-baked corner of Italy.
The techniques that the
ancient Romans used to make their beloved wine are being revived in a sun-baked
corner of Italy Photo: ALAMY
6:52PM BST 22 Aug 2013
Italian historians are drawing on 2,000-year-old Roman texts in an attempt to
replicate the type of wine that would have been guzzled by the emperors,
legionaries and plebeians of the empire.
They are using tools once used
by the Romans, such as a wooden cross with a lead weight on a piece of string,
known colloquially as "the stork", which was used to check that the
holes dug for new vines were the correct depth.
Instead of using modern twine
to bind young vines to poles, they are using strips of cane and twists of wood
from broom bushes, as Roman farmers once did.
pesticides or fertilisers, the ancient Roman wine will be similar to the
organic wines that have become so popular in the last decade.
They are using eight varieties
of wine that are thought to have been cultivated by the Romans and will store
it in terracotta pots rather than the wooden barrels that vintners use today.
The varieties, seven red and
one white, include little known grapes such as Nerello Mascalese, Visparola,
Racinedda and Muscatedda.
The scientists have
established a vineyard at Mascali, near Catania in Sicily, using technical
know-how gleaned from the writings of the poet Virgil, whose lengthy work, the
Georgics, describes Roman viticulture methods including advice on grafting,
when to plant vines and the dangers of goats munching through vineyards.
The researchers have also
drawn on the works of Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella, the Roman Empire's
best known writer on agriculture.
A former soldier who served as
a tribune in Syria in the first century AD, he took up farming after leaving
the army and wrote a twelve-volume study of agriculture called De Re Rustica.
He recommended planting vines
two paces apart and said they should be tied to wooden stakes about the height
of a man.
"The Roman sources are
very precise and we want to see what happens when we carry out their
instructions to the letter," Mario Indelicato, a researcher from the
University of Catania, told The Daily Telegraph.
"Many of these tools and
techniques were still in use in Sicily and other parts of Italy until the end
of the Second World War, so there was a great deal of continuity with the Roman
era. "Then came mechanisation and modern chemicals, and everything
changed. We think we can recover the old techniques and that they could applied
to modern winemaking."
Daniele Malfitana, the
director of the Institute for Archeological Heritage and Monuments, who is
overseeing the project, said: "Step by step, by reading and interpreting
the Latin sources, we are learning how the Romans managed their vineyards.
"The scope of the project
is twofold – on the one hand to check the feasibility of the Roman techniques,
and on the other to understand if this knowledge can be used in modern
The first vines were planted
in March and the first harvest is expected in four years.
The wine has yet to be given a
name and the researchers have not yet decided whether to sell it commercially.
The Romans are thought to have
picked up winemaking from the Etruscans and ancient Greeks and it became one of
the Empire's most important trade commodities, shipped around the Mediterranean
in clay amphorae.
Roman merchants sold their
wine to the farthest-flung corners of the Empire, from Carthage and Spain to
the lands inhabited by Germanic tribes.
The principal source of wine
for Rome was the area around Pompeii, where vast vineyards were cultivated.
Labels: Newspaper articles