If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

29 May 2005

1,005 years of history for $5 a bottle: Est! Est!! Est!!!

I picked out a bottle of what looked like a nice 'patio white' at the store last night to drink with dinner. Testing the 'all wine is good wine' in Italy theory, I went with something cheap (actually, I was sucked in by all the exclamation points). While looking up a recipe online today, I saw a link to it as a recommended wine to eat with Panzanella (the fancy way to say 'day old bread and vegetables, which is often served as an appetizer). And lo and behold, got a fun history lesson:

The Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone is one of the few wines of ancient origin whose date of creation is known: the year 1000. Up until that time, the wine produced from grapes grown on the slopes rising from the shores of Lake Bolsena to the town of Montefiascone was appreciated locally and it was praised by travelers, who remembered it and discussed it in the various other cities they visited. But there was really no trade in the wine.

However, in the year 1000 the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V marched on Rome at the head of a powerful army to settle some controversy with Pope Pascal II. Bishop Johan Defuk was one of the followers of the expedition but he apparently was more interested in the sightseeing and Dionysian possibilities offered by the excursion than politics. He instructed his cupbearer, Martin, to go ahead of him on the route, keeping always one day in advance, and to select the inns where good wine was to be had. When he reached Montefiascone, Martin found that the usual notice "Est!" chalked next to the door of the inn selected was wholly inadequate because the wine in the town was truly excellent. Since he had not arranged any other signal with his master, he decided to communicate his appreciation of the wine by writing Est! three times, adding an additional exclamation point each time.

The reputation of the wine was made on the day Bishop Defuk tasted the Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone. Enraptured by the wine's smoothness, the prelate stayed on in the town for three days. After completing his imperial mission, he returned to Montefiascone and remained there until his death. And he was buried in the town's church of San Flaviano. For several centuries, it has been the practice to pour a barrel of wine over his tombstone every year.

Yup, $5 well spent.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

...ah, isn't Papal history interesting in itself: the deadly comflicts, the battles, the poisonings, the premature deaths...such melodrama.

Can't say I've been all that connected with Pope-esque type stuff prior to Di Vinci Code and the recent death/funeral of Pope John Paul II plus the choosing of Benedict XVI as next/new Pope. Yet for some reason, now I'm almost captivated...although my vote was with a Latin American or African Pope. Yet whom in the Catholic World listens to me?


6:39 AM  

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