The award TreBicchieri of Gambero Rosso to Criseo 2017

This award for the Criseo Bolgheri DOC Bianco 2017 is a great pleasure for us, especially because it is the first Bolgheri white wine to receive this coveted prize.

We are particularly excited because we cannot hide the fact that it has not been easy to propose and support a wine such as Criseo in recent years, a white from a single vineyard, a field-blend of 5 varieties, aged on the yeast, in a territory that today is considered the home of great red wines, and (for critics) suitable for pleasant white wines without too many pretensions.

Criseo has instead demonstrated the whole greatness of Bolgheri and of the idea conceived twenty years ago by a craft winegrower, Michele Scienza. An idea that was not born from nothing, but from the awareness of having a great terroir behind it, or genius loci (as we love to say, in Latin style), able to give solidity to his ideas and passions.

Michele thoroughly evaluated the climate and soil characteristics of this vineyard (Campo Bianco 0,7 Ha) in the Bolgheri hills, as well as an ancient history of local viticulture widely dedicated to white wines, although now almost forgotten and (in many ways) underestimated. To all this he added his more northern origin and personal training, that made him able to measure himself in the cellar with all that respect and that sensitivity of management of the grapes, indispensable for obtaining a great white wine, perfect balance of complexity and finesse, capable of lasting over time.

The only regret is that the 2017 vintage, so difficult on the one hand but that has also given us so much in quality from the other, has been marked by the lowest production as ever in quantity.

Atis 2016 one of the best Italian wines for Bibenda

Thanks so much to the Italian Sommelier Foundation. In their wine guide Bibenda, they awards the maximum score (5 grapes) to our Atis Bolgheri DOC Superiore 2016.



The Vinitaly International Academy at Guado al Melo: the future Italian Wine Ambassadors

Vinitaly-International-Academy-467397462On Friday 27 September Guado al Melo will host the staff and a group of students from the Vinitaly International Academy (VIA).

The VIA was born within Vinitaly Fair, with an educational goal on Italian wine. Thanks to high-profile courses held around the world, it is forming a global network of highly qualified professionals in the sector, who will be the ambassadors in their countries of our great wine heritage, with its incredible diversity, history and culture. The managing director is the American journalist Stevie Kim, the scientific director is prof. Attilio

The group will stay in Bolgheri for three days, to learn about the Denomination, also visiting various wineries in the area. It is composed of students, future Italian Wine Ambassadors, which are professionals from China, Canada, Australia, Slovenia, United States, UK, Hungary and Germany. They will be led by the staff of the Via, including Stevie Kim and the English journalist Monty Waldin, who is the conductor of the Italian Wine Podcast (the English-language podcast created by Stevie Kim on Italian wine

The morning of Friday 27th, in Guado al Melo, will be dedicated to visiting the winery and tasting our wines, led by the owner and winemaker Michele Scienza. Then, there will be the seminar on the Denomination held by prof. Attilio Scienza, in the Guado al Melo library. In the afternoon the students will be accompanied by the professor to see the different landscape units defined by the viticultural zoning studies of the territory. On Saturday there will also be a masterclass at the Bolgheri Wine Protection Consortium.

The Italian Sommelier Association (AIS) awards Jassarte 2016 the best score (4 vines)

Many thanks to the AIS sommeliers which, in their guide "Vitae", awards with their maximum recognition (the 4 vines) our Jassarte 2016 Toscana IGT Rosso. It is a great honor for us.

Its first official release will be on the occasion of the AIS awards ceremony, Saturday 26 October, from 11.00 to 19.00, in Rome, at the "Nuvola" Congress Palace.

Wine and Jazz in Bolgheri

There will are our wines too

Wine and the Etruscan (VI): when the vine came out of the woods

The peoples of the Mediterranean began to emerge from barbarism when they learned to cultivate the vine.

(Thucydides, V century BC)


I have talked about the beautiful history of the Etruscan vine tranining system, married to a tree, which survived for over three thousand years (see here). It is a form of avanced viticulture. How was it born?
How and when did the Etruscans learn to cultivate the vine?


In the old books on the wine history it is still found that the Etruscans learned viticulture and wine production from the Greeks. Studies of the last decades have instead shown that it was a development of its own.

Above: original area of wild vine (Vitis vinifera); below: centres of domestication. In the past it has long been believed that the domestication of the vine (and the production of wine) had begun in a single point (the so-called Noah hypothesis). The origin was located in the Caucasus and from there it would then spread to the Middle East and the Mediterranean area. Studies of recent decades have instead increasingly shown that the approach to the vine and wine has taken place in different places independently. This fact is not surprising, given the great extension of the distribution area of the wild vine and its physiological encounter with the local populations. In some areas it started earlier, in others later. In the black circles there are the areas of independent start of forms of proto-viticulture, difficult to set a date. During these times the winemaking was born. The later stages of domestication are more easy to date, numbered in chronological order based on current evidence. Ia-Ib: from the VI-IV millennium BC; IIa-IIb: V-III millennium BC; III (central-southern Italy): III-II millennium BC .; IV (central-northern Italy, southern France and the Iberian peninsula): II-I millennium BC .; VI (Central Europe): Imperial Roman era.


It is not easy to investigate these remote ages, when there are no documents, the remains of reference are highly perishable, moreover in a country like ours with so many historic layers. A classic example is represented by the "palmenti" (of which I have spoken here): they have been used for centuries, sometime for millennia, and this makes really difficult to find their time origin.

However, in recent decades, investigation techniques have been increasingly improved, integrating different disciplines, putting together the work of archaeologists, paleobotanists, molecular biologists and viticultural experts. They study the remains of ancient pollen, grape seeds, sediments on work tools and containers, the genetics of wild vines still present in the area and those close to archaeological sites, etc. In Tuscany, in particular, I remember in this regard the Vinum, Archeovino and Senarum Vinea projects, to which I refer mainly for this post. These and other studies are increasingly shedding light on our most ancient wine-growing history.

In many Italian areas there has been an independent birth of embryonic viticulture forms. However, for many of them the transition to fully-developed viticulture was strongly influenced by more advanced cultures (at that times).

Thus it was not for the Etruscans, the first winemakers in Italy who took the vine from the woods and cultivated it with the vine-growing system married to a tree. So, from the initial proto-viticulture, they developed a form of autonomous viticulture, which later became a key part of the Italian agricultural landscape for millennia, also considered a cultural frontier.
The contact with the Phoenicians and the Greeks will also enrich their viticulture and wine production, but they will always maintain a strong identity.

In Western Europe we can in fact trace the ancient cultural frontiers thanks to the type of historical viticulture of the territory. The Greeks have shaped viticulture in Southern Italy and Mediterranean France. The Etruscans have influenced that of Central and Northern Italy, including Rome and Northern Campania. The Romans, later, developed it in the territories of Central Europe, bringing the vine even to areas that had never seen it before.

Let us return, however, to the Etruscans and to the long and complex path of the birth of their viticulture. To simplify, scholars have divided it into phases. Some aspects are common to all the populations that have undertaken this process. Others are exclusive to the Etruscans.

The phase of pre-domestication.

Our very distant ancestors, in Prehistoric times, gathered wild grapes (Vitis vinifera sylvestris L.) in the woods, taking what nature spontaneously gives. Grape seed remains have been found in anthropic contexts at least since the ancient Neolithic. Obviously, it is not excluded that it also happened in earlier times, we think at least from the Paleolithic.

In this period the man collects the grapes (on the right, wild grapes in Guado al Melo) but it does not seem there are traces of vinification.


Do wild vines still exist today? In our woods it is still possible to find them (on the left, wild spontaneous vine in Guado al Melo), in fact the Vinum project worked on them. However, it is not very easy and increasingly risk disappearing. In fact, they grow mainly along streams, areas that have been constantly cleaned up for centuries by farmers to safeguard the territory. However, among the vines that can be found in a forest today, there are different situations: really wild vines, domesticated vines that came back to the wild (because there may have been an abandoned farm, etc.), spontaneous hybrids born between the wild vine and the domestic one. Are the current wild vines identical to those of the origins? It is not credible to think of it: in millennia of intense viticulture, it is very probable that the wild vines in the woods had genetic exchanges with domestic ones.

Tuscany and upper Lazio are the Italian regions that still have the largest number of wild vines, concentrated mainly in the Maremma woods overlooking the Tyrrhenian coast. Our territory, the Alta Maremma, represents its northernmost part (yellow arrow on the map below, from Attilio Scienza).

vite selvatica


The great importance of the vine for our territory in ancient times is also reflected in the name of Populonia, the Etruscan city-state that dominated it. It was called Pupluna (or Pufluna or Fufluna) which derives from puple = sprout (of vine). Pliny tells that in the city there was a statue of Jupiter entirely carved in a single large trunk of vine (Naturalis Historia, XIV, 9). I remember that Tinia, the main daity of Etruscan, under whose protection they placed viticulture, was assimilated to Juppiter. Even today, researchers from the Vinum project have found numerous wild vines in these woods. Some of them are at Guado al Melo, on trees, according to the Etruscan vine-training system (our row no.1).
It is thought that the first form of viticulture in central Italy began towards the end of the second millennium BC, in the Bronze Age. We are at the beginning of that period that scholars have called the phase of the Lambruscaia.

This phase is a way of transition between spontaneous harvesting and an actual agricultural form, an embryonic viticulture that led to para-domestication. In this period the man from passive collector becomes active: he begins to take care of the wild vines in the woods, in the places where these grow spontaneously.

This viticulture resembles the one that Homer tells us about the Cyclops:

“Nothing is planted by their hands, not even plowed; everything grows for them without sowing or plowing: and wheat, and barley, and vines that produce wine from large bunches, and the rain of Zeus swells them "(Odyssey IX, 108-111).

The care and protection from predators makes the availability of the fruits more constant and perhaps even more abundant. A selection is not excluded in this phase, in the choice of treating the most productive vines or more pleasant in taste or the most resistant to pests.

Wild grape on the left, domestic grape on the right.

We do not know how the Etruscans called them or, better (for this period), the Villanovian peoples from which the Etruscan civilization will develope from the IX century B.C.

The term "lambruscaia" derives from the word "labrusca" which in Italy historically refers to the wild vine. Lambruscaia thus identifies the place with groups of wild vines in the woods. These plants tend to grow, in our Mediterranean forests, where there is more availability of water, for example near streams.

The word labrusca appears for the first time in a written document by Virgil (1st century BC). However, scholars think that it is much older, perhaps of Paleo-Ligurian derivation. Be careful not to confuse it with the species Vitis labrusca L., an American vine which came to Europe in the nineteenth century; here we always talk about Vitis viniferaL., the only European species, in its wild form, ie the sub-species sylvestris.

The word labrusca or its derived forms were still in use until not many years ago, to indicate the wild vine in the Center Italy: labrusca / lambrusca, abrusca, brusca, ciambrusca / cianfrusca, abrostola, abrostina, up to the most original raverusto and zampina. In Tuscany, in the past centuries, the terms averusco and abrostine were used to indicate the wine still made by wild grapes.

These words still echo in the names of several current varieties, even very different genetically. They share the fact that they remember their ancestral wild origin in the name. The most famous are the numerous Lambrusco, but there are also Abrostine, Abrusco, Abrostolo, Raverusto di Capua (another name of the Asprinio from Aversa), etc.


The first appearance of the word labrusca, to indicate the wild vine, is in the V Eclogue (42-39 BC)by Virgil: "Aspice, ut antrum silvestris raris sparsit labrusca racemis". " Look, as the wild vine has covered the cave with rare bunches". The reference is also present in one of his less known juvenile works, the Culex (Mosquito), where he describes a wild vine that is eaten by goats, climbing on the rocks. Here, however, he uses the term indicating the fruit (labruscum), the wild grape: "... pendula proiectis carpuntur et arbuta ramis, densaque virgultis avide labrusca petuntur". Servius (4th-5th century AD), who wrote explanatory comments on Virgil's work, tells us: "Labrusca = vitis agrestis, quae quia in terrae marginibus nascitur, labrusca dicta est a labri set extremitatibus terrae", That is "Labrusca = rural vine that is born in the lands on the margins, labrusca is called that is at the out of the cultivated lands".

The cultivation of the lambruscaie in the woods is a primordial element characteristic of the Italian agricultural landscape, as also recalled by Emilio Sereni ("History of the Italian agricultural landscape", 1961), a reality in which the boundary between natural and agricultural environment is often very blurred. In fact, the lambruscaie will never completely disappear, even after these remote eras, despite the shift to more advanced forms of viticulture. Especially in the Maremma areas, the peasants used them again for centuries, until at least the 19th century (although in marginal form).

However, a systematic collection of grapes is documented in this period. But did they really make us wine?

It really seems so. In some archaeological sites of the early Bronze Age (Lake Massaciuccoli), medium (San Lorenzo a Greve) and final (Livorno-Stagno, Chiusi, Tarquinia) and others, large remains of grape seeds have been found, some with wild characters and others with elements of domestication. Thus, a significant amount of bunches of grapes had been harvested, brought into the town and not consumed immediately, but stored in structures used for food reserves. The oldest palmenti (rock vat for crushing the grapes) found so far seem to date back to the Bronze Age (I talked about the Etruscan and Roman production techniques here).


The morphology of the grape seeds allows us to recognize those of wild vines (the top two lines) from those of the paradomestica or domestic vine (below). The first are more rounded, the latter more pointed and pear-shaped. Here the seeds are also burned, to simulate the state in which they are really found on the archeological sites. Image from Mariano Ucchesu et al., "Predictive Method for Correct Identification of Archaeological Charred Grape Seeds: Support for Advances in Knowledge of the Grape Domestication Process", in PLoS ONE 11 (2) · February 2016.

However, in this period, the wine produced is little, quite far from the taste we are used to today. Given the characteristics of wild grapes, it is very probably very light, sour and rich in tannin. It is accompanied by other fermented beverages, such as that obtained from cornel, sorb or other fruits. And yet it will be the drink obtained from the fermentation of the grapes to win over time, for an undoubted gustatory and conservative superiority, over all the others.

The primordial viticulture later went beyond lambruscaie, because of several productive improvements and also to the introduction of more advanced instruments, such as the long handle pennato (a local type of billhook).

Vine seeds sprouted spontaneously in the composting area of Guado al Melo

At one point the vine leaves the forest. It is not known whether this passage to a real cultivation was rational or was born from the observation of random facts. One of the most reliable hypotheses in this sense is the one called of "the garbage dump" or, more elegantly, of spontaneous vegetable gardens. According to this theory, man has started to see useful plants grow (in this case the vine) near his own settlement, in the places where he left his waste. In these places the ancient humans left food remains and even their own droppings. The seeds, thrown or present in the faeces, germinate and develop very easily in places so rich in organic material and moisture.

From the second half of the eighth century, in one way or another the wild vine came out of the wood, it was brought to its margins, near the human settlements. The structuring of a real viticulture begins, a new phase called Numana by the scholars.

In this phase the advanced Etruscan viticulture is born: the vine was cultivated always imitating nature, in the form of a vine married to the tree (of which we have already spoken here). The winegrower's work cycle becomes complete, including the vine planting and the renewal at the end of vineyard life. It is not by chance that the name of Numa Pompilius was chosen: it is the era of "normalization" of viticulture which, besides, from Etruria is transmitted to the nascent Roman civilization.

For the name, the emblematic figure of Numa Pompilius, second king of Rome, was chosen. He is remembered above all for having consolidated the nascent Roman civilization with the introduction of a series of civil and religious norms which, according to tradition, were dictated to him by the nymph Egeria. Among these, he introduced the obligation of pruning, prohibiting the ritual consumption of wine made from unpruined vines. The central power then tries to improve production, pushing the population to overcome the proto-viticultural ancestral forms. He also introduced a ban on extinguishing the flames of funeral bonfires with wine, emphasizing the preciousness of the drink in his era.

Cultivation inevitably led to increasingly intense selective pressure. The ancient winegrowers choose to plant and propagate the best vines, the hermaphrodite ones (I remember that the wild vine is instead predominantly dioic, with separate sexes), the most productive or the earliest one, those most resistant to weather or disease, etc. This is the proto-domestication.

Hydria (water amphora) with a scene of Dionysus and satyrs that are harvesting from vines married to trees (about 530 BC). Found in Caere, probably made by Greek-Oriental artisans migrated to the Etruscan city.

In this period also the first imported wines and the oriental vine varieties arrive, brought to Italy by the Greeks and by the Etruscans themselves. These were cultivated but also grafted and crossed (more or less voluntarily) with local varieties. The immense process of very intricate genetic plots, that generated many of the current varieties, began. This process represents the complete vine domestication (which is still ongoing since then).

It is probable that the passage from the ancient word temetum (which originally could also indicate different fermented beverages, not only that made with grapes) to that of vinum, of Greek derivation, dates back to this phase. The latter will become the most used in the Etruscan and Latin languages, till the modern European languages.

From the end of the 7th century BC, an agricultural period more similar to ours began, which was called the phase of the landscape organized in the countryside.

The gap between urban and rural life is increasingly accentuated. In the latter, more and more rural buildings were born, surrounded by cultivated lands, real farms dedicated to the production of wine, oil, cereals, etc. The married vines to the trees, placed at the margins of the plowed lands, are now subjected to pruning and ever more evolved care, as well as the production of wine is improving. The techniques and the work tools have become more and more refined, thanks also to the increasing cultural exchange with the Greek and Phoenician world.

Reconstruction of a rural Etruscan building (late 6th - early 5th century BC) at Podere Tartuchino (Semproniano, GR), from

The Etruscan society is now very evolved and the demand for wine is increasingly exigent. Local and imported wines are consumed. Wine of different quality is required, with a great circulation of varieties of different derivation. A more and more considerable production leads to overseas trade, mainly directed towards the Celts of southern France (see here).

The next phase was that called of Romanization

(more or less from the III century BC) The influence of other viticultural techniques coming from Rome may in part yet even have preceded the military conquest, which however will be completed by the first century BC. Alongside the traditional form of the married vine and the persistence of the lambruscaie, also the viticulture in rows begins, with parallel trenches (on the evolution of Roman viticulture we will speak again).

And yet it will not end here: all these forms of vine cultivation will continue to coexist for millennia, with Rome and for the following centuries (naturally with further evolutions), arriving however almost until our days.


Grape harvest by married vine, frieze of the House of the Vettii (Pompeii)





from: A. Cianci et al. “Archeologia della vite e del vino in Etruria” Ed. Ci.Vin 2007

From slides and works by prof. Attilio Scienza

Jassarte: Gold Medal in Zurich

We are happy to comunicate that Jassarte 2015 has won the International Wine Award Expovina in Zuric, as best Italian wine.

Jassarte 2015 b

The Etruscans and wine (V): an intense wine trade to Europe

We all already know that the Etruscans were great navigators and traders but perhaps it is less known that they also traded their wine, a sort of primordial export from Tuscany.
The history of Etruscan trade began around the IX century BC, but it intensified especially from the 8th century onwards. It was interrupted only by the Roman conquest (II-I century BC). Located in a pivotal region for trade between the East and the West, the Etruscans were able to make the most of this favorable position. The Etruscan merchants became known throughout the Mediterranean and the Tyrrhenian Sea, controlled by the fleet, became almost an exclusive space. Brown arrows: trade routes and the widespread use of Etruscan products.
The wine trade was very intense between the seventh century and the first half of the fifth century B.C. Before these period, the wine-growing techniques were noticeably improved. The strong increase in production created a surplus, with respect to domestic consumption, pushing the Etruscan to wine commercialization.


The history of Etruscan trade began around the IX century BC, but it intensified especially from the 8th century onwards. It was interrupted only by the Roman conquest (II-I century BC). Located in a pivotal region for trade between the East and the West, the Etruscans were able to make the most of this favorable position. The Etruscan merchants became known throughout the Mediterranean and the Tyrrhenian Sea, controlled by the fleet, became almost an exclusive space. Brown arrows: trade routes and the spread of Etruscan products.

The wine trade was very intense between the seventh century and the first half of the fifth century B.C. Before these period, the wine-growing techniques were strongly improved. The increase in production created a surplus, with respect to domestic consumption, pushing the Etruscan to wine commercialization.

It was a vast trade, documented by the discovery of Etruscan wine amphorae in many regions: in Lazio, in Campania, in the Greek colonies of eastern Sicily, in Calabria, in Sardinia, in Corsica, in southern France and in the Iberian peninsula, both on the coasts Mediterranean and the southern Atlantic areas. There was also a minor trade by land, both internally and towards the territories of central Europe, where numerous objects of the Etruscan symposium have found.

The most important market were the Celto-Ligurian settlements of Southern France, such as Saint-Blaise in Provence, Lattes and La Monedière in Languedoc, penetrating for some tens of kilometers inland along the waterways. Large quantities of bucchero vases and Etruscan wine amphorae were found in the archaeological remains of more than 70 sites in the region.

The gray area indicates the diffusion of Etruscan wine amphorae in Southern Gaul. The arrows indicate the main routes of the ships, while the numbers indicate the wrecks found (from Cristofani, Gli Etruschi una nuova immagine, ed. Giunti 2000).

We can also follow the routes of these trips thanks to the remains of shipwrecks found in Cap d’Antibes, Bon Porté, Point du Dattier and other places. From Etruria, the merchants followed the islands of the Tuscan archipelago and passed near Corsica. On the seabed, Etruscan ships have been found with entire loads of wine amphorae and fine tableware.

foto allestimento museo di Populonia
This exposition of the Populonia museum reconstructs the appearance of the remains of Etruscan shipwrecks on the seabed.
Example of cargo of an Etruscan ship, sunk in Cap-d’Antibes in the second quarter of the 6th century a.C .: (a) wine amphorae, (b) buccheri, (c) Etruscan-Corinthian pottery, (d) unpainted jars and cups used by sailors (also from Cristofani, ed. Giunti)

At that time in the south of France wine was not yet known and, in return, the Etruscans procured various commodities, probably skins, cattle, slaves, especially tin that, along the Rhone route, came from Cornwall (I remember that tin was fundamental for the production of bronze, in alloy with copper).

This trade in wine came less from the 6th century BC because of the colonization of the Focei (from Focea, the Greek city of Ionia, in present-day Turkey). These gradually supplanted the Etruscans, imposing a real territorial domain, especially towards the end of the century.

From that moment on, the markets of Southern France began to supply from the wine production of Marseilles (Massalia), which had been founded by the Focei around 600 BC. The Etruscan wine trade diminished significantly and focused mainly on crafts and luxury goods.


Etruscan wine amphora found in the sea near Populonia, from the museum of the Territory of Piombino.
The wine was transported in terracotta amphorae,

also used for preservation, ancestors of the most famous Roman amphorae. The Etruscan amphora appears to have originated from Phoenician models and appeared with the beginning of the commercialization of the product. At the beginning they had red paint inscriptions, as if to evoke the practice of giving. However then they become standardized, they become all identical, without decoration, a real mass production. Inside they were coated with resin and closed with cork stoppers sealed with pitch. The shape was different depending on the place of production and evolved over time towards increasingly elongated shapes, to facilitate storage in ships.

Different types of Etruscan wine amphorae (from Cristofani, ed. Giunti)
The drawing reconstructs the loading scene of a ship in the port of Populonia, with wine amphorae (from the museum of the Territory of Piombino)

In the holds, the amphorae were stacked in parallel rows, one above the other, taking advantage of the spaces between the handles of the row below to insert the tip of the one above. The loads were balanced so as to avoid the imbalance of the boat. The interstices between the amphorae were filled with juniper or heather twigs, rushes or fagots, to avoid breakage and movement during transport.

Graphic reconstruction of the hold of an ancient ship


The Etruscans kidnap Dionysus

From the 6th century B.C. the Etruscan merchant appeared depicted in Greek literature as a pirate, while the Phoenician one had the role of the cunning merchant. The Greek one, of course, progressively triumphs over obstacles, imposing himself on others. This iconography, obviously very biased,  had a historical background however: the commercial trips of the time were not entirely unrelated to episodes of raids. However, it is thought that, rather than pirate acts, it was a sort of corsair war.

The figure of the Etruscan-merchant, but above all of the Etruscan-corsair, caused the spread of a myth that tells of the kidnapping of Dionysus by the Etruscan, represented on Greek vessels starting from the VI century BC. This myth appears for the first time in the Hymn 7 attributed to Homer, probably reporting archaic oral narratives.

The myth tells that the Etruscans found a beautiful sleeping boy on an island, with black curls and a rich purple coat.

... Presently there came swiftly over the sparkling sea Tyrsenian pirates on a well-decked ship —a miserable doom led them on. ...

Thinking he was the son of a king, they took him to ask for his ransom. Dionysus, awakened tied up on the ship, turned into a bear and then into a lion, while vine shoots wrapped around the main mast. The pirates, terrified, threw themselves into the sea and were transformed into dolphins. The God spared only the helmsman, who had opposed from the beginning the attempt to tie him, since he had guessed the divine nature of the young men.


Exekias, Kylix con il mito di Dioniso e dei pirati tirreni trasformati in delfini (530 a.C. circa; ceramica a figure nere, diametro 30,5 cm, altezza 13,6 cm; Monac
Attic kylix found in Etruria, in Vulci (530 BC). It represents the final scene of the myth: Dionysus is on the ship, with the vine that has grown around the mast and the pirate-dolphins are swimming around.

It seems that the Etruscans appreciated this myth, in fact they themselves represented it, as in the hydria (water amphora) of Toledo.

Etruscan hydria (Toledo, Ohio, USA), by the Vatican Painter 238, end of the sixty century -early fifth BC

Apart from Homer, this myth is rarely remembered in Greek literature, except in later periods, where it appears with different additions or variations. In the Hellenistic period Pindar claims that the abduction was "commissioned" by Hera, with Silenus and the Satyrs leaving for his research. It is even more frequent in the Greek literature of the Roman period, with Apollodorus, Nonnus of Panopolis and other authors.

In Rome the myth is mentioned by Ovid in the Metamorphoses, according to which the kidnapping would have taken place on the island of Chios. When the young man wakes up, he asks to be taken to Naxos. The pirates pretent only to go along his request and, when Dionysus realizes it, the prodigies begin. The ivy and the vine wrap around the mast of the ship, different fairs appear. The pirates who throw themselves into the sea are described at different stages of the metamorphosis into dolphins. Then they emerge and weave a dance around the ship. The saved helmsman comes to Delos and becomes a follower of the worship of God.

In the Oedipus by Seneca the prodigies are still different: the sea becomes a meadow, with also trees and birds. Hyginus tells that the companions of Dionysus (who was not alone, in this case) begin to sing a wonderful song that fascinates the pirates, who begin to dance and fall into the sea cause of the enthusiasm. Lucian recalls this story, saying that Dionysus uses the dance to subdue the Tyrrhenians, emphasizing its importance in the worship of God.

Roman mosaic of Dougga (Tunisia) (253 - 268 AD)

Scholars consider that originally the myth was linked to the initiation rites to the Dionysiac mysteries , as a teaching or as a demonstration of punishment for those who do not want to recognize the God. Then it became a sort of Greek propaganda against Etruscan acts of piracy. In Hellenistic and Roman times, however, it also took on an eschatological connotation, related to the cult of Dionysus, God of transformation and renewal, which leads to salvation.

The relationship between Dionysus (wine) and the sea are elements and metaphors of the passage between life and death, however very present in Greek culture and then also in the Etruscan one. The journey by sea metaphorically represented the journey to the afterlife. The Etruscans believed that it precisely the dolphins accompanied the dead to the Isle of the Blessed. The figure of the dolphin is in fact proposed in Etruscan art with symbolic-ritual significance linked to death, as in several tombs, but also a good omen. these aquatic animals were surely  very familiar to this people of navigators.


530 a.C.; affresco; Tarquinia, Tomba della Caccia e della Pesca
530 BCE; fresco in Tarquinia, Tomb of Hunting and Fishing

This bond will remain even in Roman art , with the representation of this myth in funerary monuments. However, it was also rapresented in mosaics of private houes.

I like to think of this myth in a different way too. The Etruscans kidnap the God of wine, Dionysus, or rather the very soul of wine, and take it to the West, in Italy, which will increasingly become the land of wine par excellence.

Hymn 7 - To Dionysus (by Homer)

I will tell of Dionysus, the son of glorious Semele, how he appeared on a jutting headland by the shore of the fruitless sea, seeming like a stripling in the first flush of manhood: his rich, dark hair was waving about him, and on his strong shoulders he wore a purple robe. Presently there came swiftly over the sparkling sea Tyrsenian pirates on a well-decked ship —a miserable doom led them on. When they saw him they made signs to one another and sprang out quickly, and seizing him straightway put him on board their ship exultingly; for they thought him the son of heaven-nurtured kings. They sought to bind him with rude bonds, but the bonds would not hold him, and the withes fell far away from his hands and feet: and he sat with a smile in his dark eyes. Then the helmsman understood all and cried out at once to his fellows and said:

“Madmen! what god is this whom you have taken and bind, strong that he is? Not even the well-built ship can carry him. Surely this is either Zeus or Apollo who has the silver bow, or Poseidon, for he looks not like mortal men but like the gods who dwell on Olympus. Come, then, let us set him free upon the dark shore at once: do not lay hands on him, lest he grow angry and stir up dangerous winds and heavy squalls.”

So said he: but the master chid him with taunting words: “Madman, mark the wind and help hoist sail on the ship: catch all the sheets. As for this fellow we men will see to him: I reckon he is bound for Egypt or for Cyprus or to the Hyperboreans or further still. But in the end he will speak out and tell us his friends and all his wealth and his brothers, now that providence has thrown him in our way.”

When he had said this, he had mast and sail hoisted on the ship, and the wind filled the sail and the crew hauled taut the sheets on either side. But soon strange things were seen among them. First of all sweet, fragrant wine ran streaming throughout all the black ship and a heavenly smell arose, so that all the seamen were seized with amazement when they saw it. And all at once a vine spread out both ways along the top of the sail with many clusters hanging down from it, and a dark ivy-plant twined about the mast, blossoming with flowers, and with rich berries growing on it; and all the thole-pins were covered with garlands. When the pirates saw all this, then at last they bade the helmsman to put the ship to land. But the god changed into a dreadful lion there on the ship, in the bows, and roared loudly: amidships also he showed his wonders and created a shaggy bear which stood up ravening, while on the forepeak was the lion glaring fiercely with scowling brows. And so the sailors fled into the stern and crowded bemused about the right-minded helmsman, until suddenly the lion sprang upon the master and seized him; and when the sailors saw it they leapt out overboard one and all into the bright sea, escaping from a miserable fate, and were changed into dolphins. But on the helmsman Dionysus had mercy and held him back and made him altogether happy, saying to him: “Take courage, good...; you have found favour with my heart. I am loud-crying Dionysus whom Cadmus' daughter Semele bare of union with Zeus.” Hail, child of fair-faced Semele! He who forgets you can in no wise order sweet song.



Il mito di Dioniso e i Pirati Tirreni in epoca romana, Lucia Romizzi Latomus T. 62, Fasc. 2 (AVRIL-JUIN 2003), pp. 352-361 (12 pages) Published by: Société d'Études Latines de Bruxelles

Cristofani, Etruschi, ed. Giunti.

Gli etruschi, abili commercianti e navigatori. Gli scambi, i prodotti che compravano e vendevano, gli empori di Finestre sull'Arte, scritto il 24/06/2018

But when is the harvest?


Now the grapes are finishing to change color (veraison). From the complete change, they will still go from 3 to 5 weeks to perfect maturity. Every variety has its moment, some are more precocious and others are ripen later.

But when is the harvest?

It is common to answer: when the grapes are ripe. But how do we understand it ?! ??

It is certainly not enough to taste the grape as we could do just to eat it: for this reason it is enough that it is sweet enough to satisfy our palate. To make any wine, it could be enough. Not to make great wines!

The winemakers try hard to capture that perfect moment.


In reality, in the past, not everyone did it: up until about thirty years ago and going back in time, the high-quality production was not such a widespread priority. The harvested was done when the grapes were ripe more or less, often when there was time to do it (in many small and medium-sized farms young people generally did other jobs, to round off the poor income of agricultural activity).

However, let us be interested in those seeking quality and try to ask some expert.

dionysusColumella (I c. AC) would tell us:

“… but the signs of the maturity of the grapes vary according to the authors.

Some have believed that the time for harvesting has come when they sees a part of the bunches becoming soft; others, on the other hand, when they see colored and shiny grapes, others when they see the vine leaves fall.

But all these signs are fallacious: they are all phenomena that can occur when the bunches are still immature, due to the bad weather due to the excessive sun or the year.

Then others tried to test the maturity from the taste of grapes, estimating it according to whether the grape had a sweet or sour taste. Even this sign, however, presents some uncertainty, because some qualities of grapes never become sweet due to their excessive acidity.

The best thing, as I myself use to do, is to observe the natural maturation by itself. On the other hand, natural maturity occurs if, having pressed out the pips, which are hidden in the grape, they are dark in color or some very black. In fact, nothing can give color to grape seeds unless the natural maturity ... " (De Re Rustica ”, 4 - 70 ca. AC)


Let's try to ask Dr. Pietro de' Crescenzi, from Bologna, who tells us about it in his work “Ruralium Commodorum libri XII” (1304), reporting different opinions:


  1. “Collecting the grapes too soon causes the wine to be thin, infirm and does not last. Others harvest too late and the vines have lost their strength. The harvest moment is recognized by tasting and the eye.
  2. Avicenna, Democritus and the African say that the grapes must be ripe six days and no more. And if the grape berry is no longer green but black or other color as it should be, according to the variety of that grape, then it means that it is ripe.
  1. Some others conjecture that the grape is ripe when it begins to wither.
  2. Others make such a test. They take out a berry from a bunch, which is beautiful and thick, and after one or two days, they will consider whether the place where there was the berry is the same as before, and if the other berries around it have not grown, they prepare to do the harvest. But if the place where the berry was will be made smaller by the growth of the others around, they wait to harvest until the grapes grow.
  3. Palladio says that we know the maturity of the grapes if squeezing the grains, the pips that are hidden in the berries are dark and some almost black; because this happens at the natural maturity of the grapes.
  4. We must then make the harvest, and most of all when the moon is in Cancer, or in Leo or in Libra or in Scorpio or in Capricorn or Aquarius. But once the moon is over and being buried (new moon), one must make the harvest hurriedly, as Borgondio says in the book which he translated from the Greek into Latin. …
  5. Too ripe grapes make the wine sweet but less powerful and less durable than those harvested before. The unripe grapes make the wine unripe. But the well ripen grapes make the wine powerful and that lasts longer.
  6. The grapes harvested in a crescent moon make the wine less durable, in the waning moon more. ... "

Pietro collected the knowledge of the ancients and that of his time. More or less, it will remain almost unchanged for centuries (including the history of the moon, which we brought from the Middle Ages to the present day ...).

The understanding of the chemical phenomenon of fermentation (from the late eighteenth century onwards) led then to increasingly understand the optimal harvest time.




Our old experts were right on several points . In fact, some of these are the result of accurate observations of the changes in the maturation period. However, even if true, they allow only a rough evaluation of the maturation (see below). They alone are not sufficient for the fineness we want to achieve today in artisanal wine. Surely, they were sufficient for past ages, even if this knowledge was not for everyone, given the widespread ignorance in the peasant world.




Today we all know by now that the best moment of the harvest is chosen, for each variety and for each particle of vineyard, from the comparison of different grape elements:

  1. sugar content,
  2. acidity,
  3. pH,
  4. phenols (tannins and anthocyanins) for the dark grapes
  5. the tasting of the grapes. Only by this way the expert winegrower, in our case Michele, knows how to evaluate elements of greater fineness otherwise undetectable, such as the maturation of the tannins of the grape seeds, the aromatic evolution of the fruit, the consistency of the peel ... However, all these elements do not coincide temporally with each other for the optimal moment. Only the winegrower, again, with great experience and knowledge (and a bit of personal flair), is able to reach the goal to identify the best balance.

This balance is different for each wine that will be born, depending on the type (white, red, still, sparkling, young, medium or long aging, raisin, ...), the territory, the varieties, the vintage in general and the seasonal trend during the harvest period (if particularly bad, it could oblige to force harvest times). You can also make mistakes, however little if you are experienced enough.

imagesThe truly perfect moment, however, remains ineffable, a myth perhaps, an infinite to tend towards, but you will never know for sure if you have really achieved it. The great wines are born from this endless research.

"Never be satisfied, this is the art" (Jules Renard)




Returning to the ancients, how right were they?

Columella, the first true agronomist in history, does not disappoint us: he discards any too variable and not objective parameter. He recognizes that always the color of the seeds changes with maturity. This was one of the parameters most used by the experts over the centuries (before our analyzes that give us more accurate answers). The most important color leap of grape seeds is during the veraison, when from green they become yellowish / brownish. Then they darken more and more. However, to evaluate the different shades of brown becomes very difficult.

(picture on the left from da

Colorimetric scale of the grape seeds, Ristic et al. 2005

9fbf2f7d5b88243be2c703279817c589-1About Pietro de’ Crescenzi:

  1. OK
  2. When the grapes have changed color they are not ripe, they need at least 3-5 weeks before to be really ready (six days are really too few).
  3. True. This is also an objective parameter of grape maturity. The pulp, during the maturation, becomes more and more soft and it does not remain adherent to the seeds (or other parts) as when it is unripe. As mentioned above, however, this element alone is considered insufficient today.
  4. No, it may already be too late, unless you want to make raisin wines or late-harvest wine.
  5. This is also a good system. The grape increases its size during maturation and stops in the final phase.
  6. Pietro mentions Palladius (Rutilius Taurus Aemilianus Palladius, 4th century AD, author of the work Opus agriculturae or De re rustica; he was the last agrarian author of the classical era). He in turn quotes Columella (see above). At the time of Pietro de' Crescenzi, Columella was known only through the quotations of other authors. His original work was rediscovered only in 1417 by the Florentine humanist Giovanni Francesco Poggio Bracciolini. He had found a manuscript of it, forgotten, in a German monastery.
  7. At that time, the moments of the year were indicated with astronomical observations, degenerated (sometimes) in fanciful astrological descriptions. Here Pietro seems to refer more to a period of the year.  …
  8. It is right: grape must be neither unripe nor overripe (when it is sweeter but loses its acidity, so the wine will be less durable).
  9. Like the stars, the moon also illuminates our nights and makes us dream ... nothing more.

Luna Vino-20160521-111300




Food & Travel Italy 2019 Awards

We are pleased to announce that Attilio Scienza has obtained the recognition awards 2019 of Food & Travel Italy for research and innovation. These are awards to Italian and international excellences that will be characterised by their quality and services. The prizes will be officially delivered on October 4th at Forte Village Resort in Sardinia.

Criseo 2017 - it is ready!

Our wine Criseo Bolgheri DOC Bianco 2017 is ready.

Michele Scienza

The vintage 2017 has been very dry, with big drops in production. The wines are well concentrated but very balanced. A lot of work has been done in selection to eliminate withered berries. In fact, the Criseo has a great freshness that perfectly balances the full and enveloping body, almost "fat", and very long. The color is light golden. The set of aromas is incredible: it changes over and over again. We left the glasses to the side, returning to smell them from time to time and ... each time different scents came. We have smelled aromas of tropical fruit (especially pineapple), apricot, candied fruit, orange jam, honey, yeast, saffron, broom, chamomile, mineral notes (flint and kerosene), cedar, lemon leaves ...

We are talking about a craft wine, that it was born from a single vineyard (Campo Bianco 0,7 ectares, naear to the ford, the "guado"), a field blend of different varieties: mostly Vermentino, and Verdicchio, Fiano, Petit manseng, Manzoni bianco. They are picked up all togheter, co-fermented and then aged on the lees for 1 year (not wood, in a steel tank), and 1 year again in bottle.

Behind all this is the work of Michele Scienza, a winemaker who fully gathers the legacy of his family.

Taste and enjoy it !

mappa vigne generale

Happy Easter: we are open

We are open on Saturday, Monday and on April 25 (they are Italian public holidays), h 10-13 15-18. 

We are waiting for you!

Guado al Melo is "Quality Made"

I had already written about this project that started about a year ago. The certification process has now been completed: Guado al Melo has been recognized as a company carrying values of Cultural Identity.

Quality Made is a high quality Cultural Identity brand that certifies companies whose activities are based on principles of cultural, environmental and social sustainability.

Quality Made is aimed at travellers looking for genuine and unique places, a travel experience that is environmentally-friendly and respectful of local communities.

Quality Made-certified companies are united by deep roots in their local territory, attention to the peculiarities of the local culture, special care in the creation of high quality products and services and their strong artisan and territorial connotation.

Founded in 2018, the brand operates in France and Italy and covers an initial group of 75 companies.

Vinitaly 2019

We'll be at Hall 7 Stand B5, c/o our italian distributor Cuzziol GrandiVini.

See you

Annalisa and Michele Scienza

April 7th-10th: Vinitaly

April 7th-10th: Vinitaly in Verona, we will be in Hall 7 Stand B5, at our distributor for Italy Cuzziol GrandiVini. We will be both Michele and me, Annalisa.

March 24th-25th: Vinissima, Tamborini Vini tasting event, our importer in Switzerland

March 24th-25th: Vinissima, Tamborini Vini tasting event, our importer in Switzerland. There will be Michele. Tamborini Vini is in Lamone, via Serta 18. Tel. +41 919357545

March 17th-19th: ProWein in Duesseldorf

March 17th-19th: ProWein in Duesseldorf: we will be in Hall 16 - J25, at the stand of our importer for Germany, Consiglio Vini.

New vintages, tasting notes

Yesterday there was a tasting among us (Michele, Annalisa, Katrin and Jadranka) of the new vintages that have just come out or are coming out. The ensemble has thrilled us: the latest years have been very positive in terms of climate. This, combined with the advanced age of the vines and the accumulated experience, has given rise to wines of great depth and interest.

We started with the youngest, L'Airone 2018, son of a very good vintage, even if the vines still had to recover after the drought of 2017 (in fact there has been a delay in development and harvest, that can not be explained otherwise) . The color is very light and bright yellow, as expected by Vermentino. The aromas are very pleasant, they remind aromas of sweet fruits and flowers, balanced and made intriguing by the bitter note (but very pleasant) of grapefruit (that distinguishes this grape variety). We have smelled the grapefruit, tropical fruits (mango, papaya, passion fruit), pear, acacia, linden. In the mouth it is very fresh, quite full-bodied and long. With this vintage we changed the bottle and then adapted the label. The result seems to me very elegant.

We also tasted the Criseo Bolgheri DOC Bianco 2017, even if it is still aging in bottle until the end of spring (more or less). There is still on sale the fantastic 2016. The vintage has been very dry, with big drops in production. The wines are well concentrated but very balanced. A lot of work has been done in selection to eliminate withered berries. In fact, the Criseo has a great freshness that perfectly balances the full and enveloping body, almost "fat", and very long. The color is light golden. The set of aromas is incredible: it changes over and over again. We left the glasses to the side, returning to smell them from time to time and ... each time different scents came. We have smelled aromas of tropical fruit (especially pineapple), apricot, candied fruit, orange jam, honey, yeast, saffron, broom, chamomile, mineral notes (kerosene), cedar, lemon leaves ... Who knows how it will change again in these last months of bottle.

The first red is Bacchus in Tuscany 2017. In the mouth it is soft, very pleasant, with aromas dominated by the fruit (blueberry, blackcurrant and blackberry) and a pungent note (black pepper). Antillo Bolgheri DOC Rosso 2017 has a greater complexity, with more structure and freshness. The aromas reminded us of the currant (halfway between a fruit and vegetal notes), other berries, but also intense notes of Mediterranean scrub, especially of laurel and myrtle.

The Rute Bolgheri DOC Rosso 2016 is what has most surprised us. It is very vertical, although quite soft and well structured. The aromatic complexity here grows considerably, with sweet fruit bases (especially the strawberry), accompanied by the freshness of mint and intense notes of licorice and sweet tobacco. This year there will also be the Magnum format (1.5 liters). You will also have noticed the small change in the label, which gives more emphasis to the name of the wine.


The Jassarte 2015 is instead an endless crescendo. The color stands out on the other wines due to its almost dark intensity (the others, due to the varieties, are on elegant ruby). On the nose you do not ever end up feeling aromas that change and alternate: black cherry, purple plum, its classic balsamic note of eucalyptus, a lot of spice (cloves and cinnamon), laurel, rosemary ... The body is very full, elegant, with a fresh and polished tannin. The ending is very long.

Finally, the Atis 2015, our Bolgheri Superiore, needed more bottles of Jassarte and in fact comes out shortly (while the Jassarte is already on sale for almost a month). But the wait was not in vain and it's very satisfying. As always, it has a very different soul from Jassarte, even if it shares its vintage and are "neighbors of vineyard". Here the color is intense ruby. The nose is very multifaceted, with sophisticated aromas of black fruits (blueberry, blackberry), currants, gooseberries, tomato leaves, licorice, aniseed, sweet tobacco and a note of "smoked". In the mouth it is of great character and balance, rich of freshness, with very long but not aggressive tannins. It has an incredible persistence.


However, this kind of wine is not still, it is alive and will evolve again. The same is for the other wines, especially for Criseo and Jassarte. For this reason I do not like to put the aromatic description in the data sheets (which you will find updated in the appropriate section of our website).

Attilio Scienza, men of the year for Assoenologi

Prof. Attilio Scienza, Michele's father, well-know expert and professor of viticulture at Milan University, is men of the year 2019 for Assoenologi, the Italian association of oenologists.


New vintage release: Jassarte 2015

After a long wait, the new vintage of our great wine Jassarte, a very complex field-blend from our Campo Giardino vineyard, is finally ready. 2015 was a very interesting vintage of great balance, which "consoled us" from a difficult 2014, in which we decided that there was not enough quality for a wine of this level.

On the other hand, 2015 gave us a great wine. It have an intense color, very deep. The aromas are complex and changing, but especially cherry, cardamom, incense, tobacco and chocolate stand out. In the mouth it is very velvety and full, even if well balanced, of considerable length.

You just have to taste it!

Here is the technical sheet, for those interested.

Jassarte 2015

Season's Greetings

Saremo chiusi per ferie dal 22/12/18 al 06/01/19 compresi.

We’ll be on holiday from 22/12/18 to 06/01/19.

Wine and the Etruscan IV: the wine into the social life and religion.

They live in a region that produces everything and, by engaging in work, have fruits with which they can not only eat enough, but also enjoy a life of pleasure and luxury.Diodorus Siculus (I c. B. C.).

About Etruscan wines:

We have no direct Etruscan written references to their wine; our knowledge comes only through Roman sources. For example, Martial and Horace praised the Massico (from the Etrurian Campania) but they scorned the rosé from Veio. One should not take these negative judgments too seriously, however, since they appear at the historical juncture when the Etruscans were in serious decline, already under the heel of the Roman Empire.  Later, Columella wrote, in his 1st-century De re rustica, that numerous types of vines were common in Etruria, such as Pompeiano or Murgentino.  Pliny the Elder described different varieties from Arezzo, such as Talpona nera (made into white wine), Etesiaca, Conseminea (excellent for everyday consumption), Sopina or Tudemis or Florentia, Perusinia (a red grape), Parana (in the Pisa area), and Apiana (a muscat grape that made a good sweet wine). The wines from Gravisca (the ancient port of Tarquinia) and from Statonia are described as excellent.

The Montescudaio cremation urn dates to the first half of the 7th century (Cecina Archeological Museum). This composition marks the introduction, from this period on, of Greek models for marking aristocratic status. It displays on its cover a male figure, the Lord, seated in front of a three-legged table which holds flattish loaves of bread. In front of the table are two vessels. One, still extant, is a kind of krater, a vessel much used by the Greeks for consumption of wine. The other has gone lost, but it was probably a container for water, since the Greeks habitually mixed water with their wine. A female figure is positioned next to the table, probably to serve the wine.

We better know how they consumed them. Rituals connected with wine seem to have already been present in Etruria at the end of the Bronze Age. However, contact with the Greek culture marked a profound evolution. The wine was more deeply linked to the religious dimension, used in a collective way in the celebrations of the Gods and in funeral ceremonies. The greater production made it even more available and became the protagonist of social rites, banquets and symposia (moments after dinner, where wine was drunk, attending music and dance shows, conversations and games). The commonalty probably also consumed a light wine, derived from the marc passed with water, frequent practice also in Roman times and until the nineteenth century.

The banquet had both religious and social meanings, being celebrated during funereal rites, as well as being staged as a symbol of wealth and belonging to an elite class.

In the first Greek models for marking aristocratic status, the reception of food and drink takes place while seated composedly at a table. This model appears in Etruria at least since the beginning of the seventh century. B.C. Beginning in the 6th century, we begin to see, still drawn from Greek cultural models, the figure of the banqueter, or diner, always half reclining on the kline, or dining couch, elbow resting on one or more cushions.  In front of each diner were set some rather low tables, for food and wine cups.


After 500 BC, women are represented at the banquets, sometimes reclining next to the men, sometimes seated nearby.  This custom was exclusively Etruscan, since in the Greek world the symposium was solely a male affair, or at most open to the hetaerae, or courtesans.  The Greeks, in fact, and the first Romans, regarded the female presence at Etruscan banquets as a sign of moral corruption.  As a matter of fact, in the Etruscan world, women enjoyed a social and civic role far different from their subordinate status in Greco-Roman society.  Female participation in Etruscan banquets had nothing whatever to do with the erotic or immoral.  Rather, married couples took part in these meals, and were represented on sarcophagi and in frescoes as a symbol of family harmony.


The diners ate with their hands, often cleaning themselves with bowls of scented water and napkins. In the room there was pets (dogs, cats, chickens, ducks ...), who ate the remains of food that fell (or were thrown) on the ground. The banquet was always accompanied by music, especially from the flutes. There were also dance and juggling performances. There were also games: dice or the "tabula lusoria" (a kind of chess). The kottabos, arrived from the Greek Sicily, consisted in centering a target with the last drops of wine left in the cup.


Moralising criticisms were made by Greek and Latin authors about the luxury that marked Etruscan banquets, which featured precious vessels and embroidered textiles, a great number of servants.  Someone tells that they banquet twice in a day! (The Greek and Roman lunch was very light and fast). The Romans went so far as to refer to the Etruscans as “slaves of their bellies” (gastriduloi), and the image of the obese Etruscan coined by Catullus became quite popular.  This image, however, was by no means always negative, since in the ancient culture the “fat” person was he who could afford to be so, that is, it was a symbol of wealth and power.

How did they drink wine?

The wine drunk in antiquity was very different from what we enjoy today.  It was concentrated, strongly aromatic, and high in alcohol.  It was not drunk pure, but mixed with water, because it was considered barbarians to lose control in society. The wine was also sweetened and flavored. These practices were common in the ancient and medieval past, to cover defects due to limited production and conservation techniques.

The various utensils used for wine and table were in ceramic or bronze. For them, archaeologists use Greek names because the Etruscan name is often unknown or uncertain.

In the centre of the room, there was a service table with the wine container (krateres), recognizable by the wide mouth. Near,  there was a large amphora (hydria) for water, that was served at table with small buckets (situla). The wine was mixed with water in the krater. They used cold or hot water, according to the seasons.  Then, they mixed also honey, herbs, flowers, spices, resins, etc.


Etruscan krater, 550-500 B.C.

view_13_fig-40-grattugiaThe grater also belonged to the symposium supply, which was used to grate spices, roots or probably (as happened in the Greek world) cheese. From the crater the wine was then drawn with some ladles or cups like the kyathos, of typically Etruscan style, halfway between a cup for drinking and one for drawing.

attingitoio in bronzo

Kyathos, a halfway between a cup for drinking and one for drawing, is a typically Etruscan shape. This is an Attic pottery of 510-485 BC. The rich Etruscan cities became a very important market for Greek ceramics, so that the Greek craftsmen introduced Etruscan forms into their production, to meet the taste of their best buyers.

The wine was poured into service jugs (oinochoe, another original Etruscan shape) or directly in the cups of the guests. It was also filtered with a strainer to eliminate turbidity.

colino in bronzo
Colander in bronze, Piombino Museum


Etruscan bucchero jug to serve wine (oinochoe), half of VI c. B.C.

To drink, the Etruscans used different ceramic cups, as the simple calyx (called thavna). An imported shape was the kylix (in Etruscan: culichna). The kantharos had two high handles (in Etruscan: zavena).

Etruscan wine cup



The kylix was a  wine cup with two little handles. It was the cup par excellence of the Greek symposiums, also introduced in Etruria.


The kantharos was a typically Etruscan cup shape, with two high handles. This cup spread widely in the Mediterranean and also entered the Greek culture, to the point of supplanting the kylix.


The kantharos also became the symbol of Dionysus in Greek art.


The dead were instead represented often holding a very low cup, almost a plate, the "patera", cup typical of sacrificial and religious rites. (Etruscan sarcophagus from the Hellenistic period, Siena).


ceramiche etruschep
THE ETRUSCAN POTTERY. On the Etruscan table (and in the tombs) there were pottery both of their own production as well as imported, specially from the Greeks. The Etruscan ceramic market was of such importance that Greek workshops produced objects custom-made for the Etruscans, sometimes introducing into their products typically Etruscan elements, such as special bucchero shapes (oinochoe, kyathos, and kantharos). Greek craftsmen themselves immigrated to Etruria seeking commissions and giving rise to new influences in local production. But it is also true that Etruscan pottery derived from Greek models was not a simple imitation. New and eclectic styles developed, that interpreted in new ways motifs taken over from other cultures. The most ancient Etruscan pottery was with the impasto method, using non-purified clay, with added limestone shards or sand. These vases were decorated with incisions, or with inserted objects of bronze, amber, or bone; or they were slipped with thin layers of lead after firing. Only impasto was used until the 9th century BC. Contacts with the Greeks led to more advanced techniques, and to the decline of impasto, until it was used mainly for objects of everyday domestic use. Greek models introduced a completely new type of pottery to the Etruscans, the use of purified clay, with the object turned on a wheel and painted with decorative motifs. Imitation of geometric period Greek pottery led, in the late 8th century, to local production models, known as Etrusco-geometrica class pottery. The importation of Corinthian and Greco-oriental (or Orientalizing) pottery led to the production of Etrusco-Corinthian pottery. It was produced in Etruria from the end of the 7th century to 540-530 BC, with Greek-Oriental influences superimposed on Corinthian forms and motifs. Bucchero, on the other hand, is a typically Etruscan style of pottery: its black colour was obtained by reduction, during the firing process, of iron oxides in the clay (which from an initial red turn black). Production started around the 7th century in southern Etruria along the coast; it peaked between the end of the 7th and beginning of the 8th centuries, with the pottery exported throughout the Mediterranean basin, particularly in the west. Quality declined in the 5th century, and the style became restricted to just a few forms for domestic use. It was then replaced by other pottery methods. The Attic style influenced the emergence of black-figure Etruscan pottery in the mid-6th century. The decoration was often scenes from Greek mythology. The artists fused together several styles, borrowing Orientalizing styles and motifs as well, together with typically Etruscan shapes, leading to works of marked eclectic character. The red-figure Etruscan style too grew out of Attic influences, about the 5th century. This ware spread everywhere, to Sardinia, Gaul, Corsica, Spain, and Africa. This technique died out towards the end of the 4th century. From the 4th through the 1st centuries BC, a black-paint pottery, traditionally known as Etrusco-Campanian, spread throughout the Mediterranean.


FOOD. The main dish of the rich people's banquets was roasted or spit-roasted meat, especially of pork, sheep, game (wild boar, deer, bear, badger, hare, ...), small wild animals (birds, dormice, ...) . The latter were also available to the less well-off. The cattle were bred more for milk and for work in the fields than for meat, as it will then be for the Romans. Near the sea they also ate fish, tuna was much appreciated. On the tables there were also cheeses, salami, and eggs. Honey was used both for desserts and for "savory" recipes. The diet was however based on cereals (especially wheat, spelled and barley), legumes and vegetables. With these they prepared bread (without salt, like today in Tuscany and other areas of central Italy), focaccia, gruels, and soups. The dressing, like today, was olive oil. From the countryside and woods there were olives, walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, figs, plums, pomegranates, grapes, pears and apples. (fresco of the Tomb of the Shields, Tarquinia).


Wine was linked to the religious dimension not only in consumption at funeral banquets or in sacrificial rites.The Etruscans considered control over the cultivation of the vine so crucial that the augurs, the priestly class, were the custodians of knowledge concerning the working of the vineyards, the determination of the orientation of the vine-rows, and the magic rituals to ward off bad weather. Pruning too possessed a high symbolic charge. As a form of control and regulation of the vine’s crop, the Etruscans connected it with personal worth and kingship. The pruning knife found in Iron Age tombs between Novara and Verbania represented not the tool itself but ownership of vineyards. Virgil, in describing the Latin ancestors of Augustus’ lineage, names Sabinus and identifies him as a cultivator of vines.

According to the Etruscans, the Divine will on the Human Fate manifested itself with signs in the world. The set of knowledge, rituals and practices that allowed to read this will of the gods was the "Etruscan Discipline". It was considered a revealed knowledge. Cicero and Ovid report the legend that a farmer from Tarquinia, while plowing a field, saw jump out of a rut a child, Tages, wise as an old man. The inhabitants of Etruria crowed at the cry of the farmer and they learned the fundamentals of discipline from Tages. The science of divination was the preserve of a class of aristocrats-priests, with different names according to their specialization (the haruspexes interpreted animals viscera, the augurs the flight of the birds, the "fulgitur" the lightnings, etc.). The Discipline enjoyed ample prestige in Rome too, until to enter in the official religion. (This is a bronze of a Etruscan augur, 490-470 BC, with his "lituo", tool to trace the perimetre of the sacred space, the "templum", within which he would take the auspices).

Etruscan magical practices were saved in Roman epoc, for exemple during the Vinalia Rustica, festivals celebrated in August 19.  The August festival featured rituals and magic practices aimed at warding off any weather disturbances that might threaten the harvest. As an example of these practices, Pliny the Elder, in his Natural History, mentions the placing among the vines of an artificial cluster of grapes, which was intended to attract to itself damaging influences and thus save the rest of the crop. On the same day, the priest of Jove, the flamen dialis, celebrated the auspicatio vindemiae, and Cicero cites the auguratio vineta, rites meant to ensure a good harvest. Cicero, in his De Divinatione, attributes the origin of this “scapegoat cluster” to Attus Navius, who was of Sabine origin and a famous augur in the time of Tarquinius Priscus. When Attus Navius was a young swineherd, he lost one of his pigs and promised that if he found it, he would give to the god the largest cluster of grapes from his vineyard. Upon finding the errant animal, Attus Navius stood in the centre of his vineyard, divided it into four sections in accordance with directions in the Disciplina Etrusca, and then interpreted the flight of birds he observed. Since the birds gave inauspicious indications for the first three areas, he searched in the fourth section and found there a cluster of wondrous size.

There was two Etruscan divinties connected to the vine and wine:


TINA/TINIA/TIN. He was the highest Etruscan divinity; his primary attribute was the thunderbolt. Tina was not solely a god of the heavens; even in the beginning, he was linked to the plant world, and in particular to the culture of the vine. Pliny tells us, for example, that in Populonia there was an image of Tina sculpted from a large vine trunk. Later, he was assimilated to Zeus/Jove. In Rome, the festivals preceding the harvest were dedicated to Jove.

FUFLUNS was an Etruscan god, whose name is connected to the root puple, or young shoot, the same term from which the name of Populonia (Pupluna, Pufluna) derived. From the mid-6th century on, Fufluns took on the iconographical traits of the Greek Dionysos, who, under the epithet Dionysos Bakchos, gave rise to the Latin Bacchus. The artistic representation of Fufluns followed the figural canons of Dionysus: the kantharos, or drinking cup, and vine shoots, or parading with maenads and satyrs. Beginning in the 4th century, the identification became even more pronounced. The god was represented as a beardless youth, and the legends from the Greek myths were incorporated: his birth from the thigh of Zeus, his infancy at Nyssa, his encounter with Ariadne, etc.

THE DIONYSIAC RITES  The influence exercised by Greek culture brought about as well the introduction into Etruria of the Dionysiac rites. This cult reached the apogee of its popularity in Etruria in the 4th-3rd centuries, so much so that colleges of Bacchantes were organised. Livy argues that it was precisely from Etruria that the Dionysiac rites arrived in Rome, which were subsequently prohibited by the Senate in 186 BC, as injurious to public order and morals.

These rites have often been misunderstood as simple sexual excesses and wild behaviour. In fact, Greek philosophy believed that wine unleashed a liberating and stimulating power in its devotees. The ecstasy that is achieved at the apex of Dionysiac frenzy is a form of higher awareness, and a means of uniting oneself with the divine. Wine was defined as “nectar of the gods” because it was considered a true and effective symbol of the sacred.

Nevertheless, the gift of Dionysus was ambiguous. On one hand, it unleashed vitalistic energy, but on the other, it induced a frenzy that could lead to death. Dionysus himself is thus a contradictory divinity, a god of vitalistic inebriation brought on by wine, but also “terrible for his irresistible power” (The Bacchants, Euripides). Dionysus is a saviour god, in fact, having been “born twice, descending to the underworld and returning hence alive.”

mortem moriendo destruxit, vitam resurgendo reparavit”

In this way he reaffirmed life by means of death. Wine represented this death and resurrection of the god, since the juice of the grape was killed by the fermentation but then regenerated itself as a beverage with higher powers. For this reason, the sacred fury wine unleashed did not represent chaos, but opened to the cosmos, that is, to life over death.

Attilio Scienza presents his last work: "La stirpe del vino" (The bloodline of wine)

On Tuesday 4 December at the bookshop Hoepli in Milan, at 6.00 pm, our prof. Attilio Scienza will present, with the co-author Serena Imazio, his new book "La stirpe del vino" ("The bloodline of wine") Ed. Sperling & Kupfer.

In this book they tell about the origins, relatives (sometime unimaginable) and geographic travels of the main varieties of grapes, through history, myth and science,

Isabella Bossi Fedrigotti (Italian writer and journalist) will also speak. Maria Grazia Pennino (Sommelier AIS) will support the tasting of some of our wines and other estates (Bellavista from Franciacorta and Banfi from Montalcino) who kindly offered some of their best products.

Wine and the Etruscan III: the production

So far, we have learned to know the Etruscans and their viticulture, based on the "married vine". Now let's talk about wine production.

As for viticulture, even when we talk about ancient winemaking in Italy, we only allude to Roman wine. Yet the Romans also learned also winemaking from the Etruscans. The word vinum, wine, is passed to the Latin from the Etruscan. It then has remained in modern European languages (Italian and Spanish vino, French vin, English wine, German wein, etc.). However, its origin is even older and it comes from far away. It seems to be a sort of "traveling word" that most likely followed the same historical-temporal path of the vine and wine, from East to West:

winuwanti in ancient Licaonia (Caucasus)

wnš / wnšt in ancient Egyptian

wo-na-si or wo-no in Mycenae

foinos-voinos in Aeolian dialect

vinom in faliscan (ancient language of the Falisci, who lived in the southern part of Etruria, between the Cimini mountains and the Tiber river, in the area of present-day Civita Castellana)

vinum in Etruscan and then in Latin.

The current Georgian (Caucasus) gwino marks the starting point.

Vinum in the Etruscan alphabet (written from right to left).
liber linteus
A detail of an Etruscan text, from the Liber Linteus; the word vinum is highlighted, enlarged above.
The above word vinum is extracted from the IX fragment of the Liber Linteus (III-I century BC), "linen book" or also called "Book of the mummy of Zagreb" (a name due to the incredible circumstances of the its discovery). It is the oldest book of Europe, an Etruscan religious text that describes ceremonies and rituals. It is the only book that we have from this civilasation because they used perishable materials, such as the linen (it also was used by the early Roman). The incredible preservation of the "Liber Linteus" arises from a fortuitous event. This book probably arrived in Egypt with some Etruscan travelers or emigrants. Somehow it ended up in the hands of the locals who, not understanding it, they used the material (linen). They made it into bandages, used to wrap a mummy of Hellenistic era. The bandages were been soaked with substances for mummification. In this way, unintentionally, they allowed the preservation of a precious document over the centuries. In 1848 a Croatian bought this mummy in Egypt and took it to the Zagreb museum. When the scholars unrolled the bandages, they realized that they contained a text inside, written in a language that was not ancient Egyptian. After a thousand conjectures, in 1892 the Egyptologist Jakob Krall demonstrated that the mysterious language was none other than the Etruscan. This book became one of the most studied texts to understand the language of this ancient people.


The Etruscan word vinum therefore derives from a foreign influence, from Greek culture. It is therefore thought that it came into use only from the 8th century B.C. There is a native word for this drink: temetum. This belongs to the protohistoric roots of the Etruscan and Latin peoples. However, the word vinum will be the winner.


After this linguistic digression, we come to our point.

How did the Etruscans make wine?

It is not easy to answer this question. We know some things for certain, we can deduce others by affinity from other Mediterranean peoples. We can surely get a lot of information from Roman authors. The productive techniques of Archaic Rome tell us much about Etruscan oenology.

In very primitive times, in general, scholars hypothesize that grapes were crushed in small containers, simply squeezed by hand or using stones as pestles.


The pressing with hands, from an educational laboratory that we did in our cellar with the children of a kindergarten.

However, when the man began to represent the scene of vinification in frescoes or on found vases, the use of pressing with feet in larger containers prevailed already.

We know for sure that, at a certain point, the Etruscans began to crush the grapes into rough vats carved in the stone, called PALMENTI (the singolar is palmento). They were dug into natural rocky outcrops. These vats, before the vine domestication, were realized near the wild vines in the woods. With the beginning of cultivation, the palmento was made in the vineyards. It was probably covered with light structures, made by canes or other, to shade them or to protect them from light rains. We know it because four holes were found in some of them, also dug into the rock, as bases for housing the support poles of a canopy.


Palmento in the Etruscan site of Tolfa (near Rome); it was used by local peasants up to the medieval period.
Pressing with feet in a palmento. The men support themselves with sticks and each to the other (Roman bas-relief)

It is thought that stone vats appeared more or less from the first millennium BC. Rare examples date back to the Bronze Age but they become more numerous later. Their dating, however, is not simple, because they were also used for centuries. In Italy, many ancient palmenti were been used by local farmers until the Middle Ages and, sometimes, even later, some even up to the mid-twentieth century.

The stone vats have been found in Tuscany, in the Marche, in Latium, in Campania, in Calabria, in Sardinia, as well as in almost all areas of the Eastern Mediterranean. They have also been found in the countries of the Western Mediterranean (such as Spain, Portugal and southern France) but these date back to Roman colonization.

On the other hand, except for rare exceptions, they are missing in the Greek colonies of southern Italy. It is thought, probably, that wooden containers were more used in this area, of which obviously there are no traces left.  This system was the one most used also in the mother country. Infect, from the numerous harvest scenes on the vases, it is clear that in Greece, in archaic times, transportable wooden vats were mainly used, with legs, positioned directly in the vineyard.


From a Greek amphora, 5th century BC: scene of grape crushing on a portable wooden vat (the one with legs in the middle)


The same theme of grape crushing appears on this cup (end of the 6th century BC). It was found in Etruria, attributed to the artist called "the Chiusi painter". The Etruscans very probably known the grape pressing Greek techniques but we have no evidence that they have used them.

In Crete, in the Bronze age, the depictions show the grape crushing with the feet in species of ceramic vats. Also in Magna Graecia there is evidence of lime-covered clay vats. Similar constructions, made with raw bricks, are also found in the Phoenician-Punic world and in Egypt.

From the frescoes of the Thebes tombs of the 16th century BC: we can see that crude clay vats were used. The workers avoided slipping by attaching to ropes fixed to the ceiling.

Returning to the Etruscan stone vats, these were dug inside rocky outcrops composed by easily workable material, often of volcanic origin, such as peperino or tuff. These materials are very perishable by erosion; they were been the cause of the loss of mostly of the ancient palmenti, became over time unrecognizable.

The palmenti were formed by a cavity or, more frequently, by two, communicating through a drainage channel. The grapes were crushed with bare feet in the upper vat. This is (more or less) square in shape and not too deep, with the drainage channel closed with clay. The crushed grapes were left to rest. Then the communicating hole was opened and the liquid was left to filter in the vat below. This second vat was deeper and smaller, often semicircular. Here fermentation was completed. The must could also be transferred and fermented in terracotta amphoras, those that the Romans will call dolii (dolium, in the singular).


palmenti disegno


The pomace, left in the upper tank, was crushed to recover the must-wine contained. The most primitive systems were based on the squashing made with stones or pieces of wood resting on. Later, probably, grapes were squeezed in sacks. At the end, the pomace was washed with water, producing a very light wine for the lower classes (the Romans call these wines deuteria or loria; this practice will remain common until modernity).

These images from the tombs of Thebes in Egypt give us an idea of the ancient pressing of the pomace with the sacks, probably common to many Mediterranean cultures. The sacks could be crushed or twisted by men or with sticks or others systems, as illustrated.


In Greece, rudimentary wine presses are documented on amphorae from the sixth century BC. They are made by a trunk lowered by human force or weighed down with stones. It is impossible to find remains of these presses, because they are made of rough materials (stones) and perishable materials (wooden parts). However, it can be assumed that they were also used by the Etruscans, by themselves or for Greek influence. However, the first documentation of similar wine presses in Italy is due to Cato, in the II century B.C.

003 (3)
Wooden wine press from a Greek vase (end of the 6th century BC). It is a simple trunk that is used as a lever, lowered by the weight of the man and by sacks, filled with stones (held in place by the second human figure). Scholars have been able to understand that it is a wine press and not for oil thanks the typical shape of the collecting amphora, a crater, used only for this drink.

The wines were kept in terracotta containers, like most of the products in the ancient era. Very probably also wineskins were used, of which there are no remains, but which are often depicted.

From an ancient Greek amphora: the man on the left drinks the wine directly from a wineskin, the one on the right from an amphora.

In successive epochs, the passage towards a more evolved wine production is marked by the realization of the palmenti directly in the farms. Meanwhile, Etruria was gradually annexed by Rome, in a period ranging from the 3rd to the 1st century BC. From the late Republican age onwards, the methods of wine production in Italy are widely known and documented by Roman authors.

At this stage masonry vats appear, which will remain typical of many parts of Italy, almost to the present day. They were made of stones or bricks cemented with mortar and then plastered with waterproof mortar. The grapes were pressed with the feet and the must was left to settle. Then it was fermented in cisterns in masonry or in amphoras (dolii), lined internally with pitch. In all these ages we cannot exclude the use of wood, of which no traces remain.

santa costanza
Roman mosaic in the Saint Costance Mausoleum (Rome). On the left we see the harvest of grapes from very high vines (vines married to trees?) and the transport by a cart pulled by oxen. On the right, there is a mansory palmento, with an elegant covering, where grapes are pressing.
The drawing represents a reconstruction of a Roman masonry palmento. Near, there is a lever-screw wine press. Below, the vintage photo represents a masonry palmento from the 1950s in Emilia Romagna. Nothing has almost changed ...



doli interrati ad Ostia antica
Buried doli in ancient Ostia: they were the fermentation vats in ancient times.

The first wine obtained from the harvest was usually consumed immediately, while the remainder was poured into terracotta containers with the internal walls covered with resin or pitch. The wine was left to rest, foaming frequently; it was decanted in spring and poured into transport amphorae. The pomace was squeezed into lever presses, operated by ropes pulled by a winch. In the largest farmers, from the first century BC, there were also large presses with lever and screw, with big stones that served as a counterweight.


The lever presses are also called "Catonian" because they were first described by Cato (in the II century BC), although they have much older origins. The most primitive, as already seen, were activated only by human force or by stone weights. In Rome, there was an evolution: the action on the lever is now carried out by ropes wrapped with a winch, or with hoists, to make the job easier.
The lever-screw press represents the next evolution. Here the pressure is exerted thanks to a screw gear, turned with arms force. The stone at the base acts as a counterweight. This type of press allows to exert a much greater force but it was expensive, so it is only present in the richest wineries. These wine presses will remain in use for all the following centuries, until the nineteenth century.


From the 1st century AD the central screw press was invented, safer and more manageable than the lever one, even if less powerful. It was made entirely of wood and therefore there aren't remains of the ancient era. We have this information from documents, especially from the testimony of Pliny (Naturalis Historia). For this reason, it is also called "Pliny's press".

004 (2)
These schemes exemplify the model of the central screw press (which could also have more than one element) described by Pliny. This system makes it possible to have smaller and less dangerous instruments, but with a capacity of force less than the lever one.
museo di Toso torchio di Plinio
A recent model of Pliny's press (museum of the winery Toso). Similar models are also found, from the Middle Ages onwards, throughout Europe.

The Pliny's press will make a remarkable leap only when it will can pass from the wooden gears to iron ones, which will happen only in the second half of the nineteenth century. In Roman times and in those to follow, iron was a very expensive material (without considering the technical difficulties of threading it regularly). No one would have thought of using iron where wood could be used. Only in the nineteenth century, thanks to the greater availability and the lower cost of the metal, its used began for the gears and then for the whole tool, allowing the definitive abandonment of the bulky (and difficult to handle) lever presses.

vinificazione romana
This drawing shows a winery in a Roman villa of the imperial era. On the left you can see the masonry palmento, where the grapes are pressed. Often it was also covered, to protect it from the sun and from bad weather, with light canopy structures or masonry roofs. At the center, there are two large wine presses. On the right, there are buried dolii, where the fermentation took place. In this drawing they are outdoors but often they were in closed rooms. Near, there is a worker carrying an amphora on his shoulders, of the type used for storing wine and for transport (especially by ship). Behind him, there is a cart with a wooden barrel, for transport by land.


Remains of the Roman era have been found in our area, that demonstrate the presence of agricultural villae. Unfortunately, there is nothing left, apart some artifacts, in exposition in nearby museums. The most important ones come from the "Villa of the Mosaic" at the foot of the Segalari hill, the remains of a sumptuous two-story Roman villa from the Augustan era, with well-preserved mosaic floors of 2nd century AD (probably added in a subsequent renovation). Unfortunately, given the scarce sensitivity of the finding time (the beginning of the 19th century), the villa was lost, but at least the mosaics were saved. At the time, they were removed and taken to the Etruscan Museum Guarnacci in Volterra, where they can still be visited today.


The wine production technique of the late empire will be the one that will remain substantially unchanged in Italy (and other areas of the Empire) for centuries to come. The various systems explained so far coexisted, some very archaic and others very advanced. We can imagine the great landowners who has made themselves build avant-garde and very expensive wineries. They could be imitated by local notables, but certainly not by other small farmers, with fewer financial resources, who continued to produce wine with simple tools, easy to produce by themselves.

Summarizing, the grapes were pressed with the feet in stone or masonry palmenti. Must was fermented in masonry tanks or, above all, in terracotta dolii. In this era, more and more wooden containers (documented) appear for crushing, fermentation and transport, which will become prevalent from the Middle Ages onwards. The pressing was done in the various types of wine presses described above, but mainly with lever presses with ropes and winch. Although this was an outdated technology, it remained the most widespread because it was the simplest and least expensive. The most modern systems of lever-screw or central screw presses, on the other hand, required skilled craftsmen to make them and quality timber, so they were only present in the richest wineries.

From the Middle Ages on, these same systems will remain. Almost all the terracotta containers will disappear and the wood will prevail. The palmenti and the different types of presses will remain. For substantial changes from these models, we will have to wait until the nineteenth century.


Wine and the Etruscan (II): the "married vine", three thousand and more years of viticulture and art

The Etruscans were the first winegrowers in Italy, beginning from the wild varieties.

The wild grapevine is a local plant in the Mediterranean area. In the more ancient times, people began to gather its fruits in the woods.

The wild vine (Vitis vinifera sylvestris) is a native species of the Mediterranean area and, above all, in Italy, it finds its ideal conditions. Even today, it is possible to find wild vines in our woods (even if you have to make attention to distinguish them from vines became wild, from old abandoned vineyards). The varieties we cultivate today derive from the wild vine, modified through millennia by selections and crossings carried out by man.

Returning to the Etruscans, scholars hypothesize that they cultivated the vine since the Bronze Age, however at least from the twelfth century B.C.

Later, with the development of civilization, being great navigators and merchants, they had increasingly intense contacts with the peoples of the eastern Mediterranean (especially with the Greeks), where culture and viticulture techniques were already more evolved. This allowed them to refine production techniques, to import new tools and new practices of working. New oriental vine varieties were also imported (whose process of domestication began in a much more remote era in the Caucasus area). These new vines were cultivated and crossed with local varieties too.

Thanks to these influences, the primitive Etruscan viticulture grew and grew over the centuries, and wine production increased in quantity and quality. So, from the 6th century B.C., began also the overseas trade (which we will discuss later).

The Etruscans cultivated vines in the same manner they saw these plants grow wild in the woods. The vine is a climbing shrub, a species of liana. In a wood, its natural environment in our latitudes, it tends to climb up a tree to reach the light as possible (it is very heliophilous specie). However, it is not a parasite: the vine does not weaken the tree on which it clings.

Today the Etruscan cultivation system name is “married vine”, "vite maritata" in Italian. The vine is like "married" to the tree. This definition is not Etruscan but was born later, as we will see. The Etruscan word was “àitason”.


Tuscan wild vine in the vineyard of Guado al Melo, with the Etruscan vine-training system: the vine is "married" to a maple tree.

The vines were married to poplars, maples, elms, olive trees and various fruit trees. Originally they were not pruned, later they were subject to long pruning. The vine therefore tended to grow a lot, to have very long shoots. They picked up the grapes with the hands or with sickles, with ladders or using instruments with a very long handle.

vite maritata

The growing of vines in Etruria was not specialized: there was not a vineyard, as we understand it today. Instead, the vines were promiscuous with other crops (alternating with cereal fields, olive trees, fruit trees, etc.).

The “married vine” has remained in the Italian wine culture until almost our days, in all those territories where in ancient times the Etruscan civilization had arrived.

espansione etrusca
In gray-green: Etruria on 750 B.C. (Historic Etruria) In gray: conquered lands on 750-500 B.C.

The Etruscans, from the original area of Tuscany and upper Lazio (called "Historic Etruria") then widened their borders, expanding to Campania, to the south, and Emilia Romagna to the north. In Campania there is still today the border between the Etruscan wine culture (more to the north) and the Greek one (the vine-training system called "alberello"). In the latter, the vine was cultivated as a low stump, without support or with "dead" support (a pole). The Sele River marked, more or less, this border.

The Etruscans brought their advanced wine culture in the conquered lands, spreading it also to neighboring peoples, such the Cisalpine Gauls (the Cisalpine Gaul corresponds to a good part of the current northern Italy).

The Etruscans transmitted a great part of their culture to the nascent Roman civilization, including viticulture and wine production. According to the tradition, king Numa (one of the seven early kings of Rome), Etruscan by birth, taught the viticulture to the Romans.

In fact, in ancient Roman time, as witnessed in the De Agri Culture by Cato (II century BC), the cultivation of the vine was made in the Etruscan manner, marrying it to the elm or fig tree. The Etruscan àitason became the Latin arbustum (vitatum), which Cato sometimes also calls vinea, as well as Cicero does.

Varro, however, in De Re Rustica (39 B.C.) begun to distinguish two different forms of vine cultivation. Probably, in his time, a new form of viticulture emerges in Roman territories, the Greek one, already mentioned above. The word arbustum remains to indicate the married vine. Vinea becomes the term to indicate this new cultivation system. Both of them belong to the general category of vinetum.

Virgil, in the Georgics (29 B.C.) describes the viticulture of his land (Mantua) and tells that the vines were married to the elm.

Columella, in the De Re Rustica (65 AD), the first real agrarian treatise in history (it will remain the basic text for all the centuries to come, until at least the 18th century), describes the different systems of Roman viticulture. However, the increasing prevalence of the vinea to the detriment of the arbustum emerges, because the first guarantees viticulture that is more specialized.

Pliny the Elder (Naturalis Historiae, 77 A.C.) tell us about the viticulture of Campania at the time, with vines married to the poplars, even very tall, especially in the area of Aversa. He distinguishes the arbustum italicum, where the vines rise on the single tree, from the arbustum gallicum (so called because it was very common in Cisalpine Gaul), where the vine shoots are passing from one tree to another and forming rows. Pliny was also a wine producer: he sold large quantities of it in Rome, producing it in his farms in Campania, from married vines.


A vine married to a single tree, or arbustum italicum (nineteenth century drawing)
Row of married vines or arbustum gallicum (early twentieth century photos in Emilia)

The married vines also return in to less relevant works of the late empire, such as the Opus Agricolturae by Palladius (4th century AD) and the Geoponica by the Byzantine Cassianus Bassus (6th century AD) which advises them in damp soils. In medieval period, we can find them in the work by Crescenzi (from Bologna), the only relevant medieval agricultural text of the European Middle Ages (1486).

In 1644, the Bolognese agronomist Vincenzo Tanara describes the two main systems of married vine of his time, which correspond to the Roman systems. He calls them “piantata” (the arbustum gallicum) and “alberata” ( the arbustum italicum), terms still used in modern Italian.

For all the following centuries, these two systems dominated the viticulture of the Center and the North Italy, depending on the area. The alberata were plots with vines climbing single trees, randomly positioned in the field or with regular arrangement. Native from central Etruria, they remained traditional especially in Tuscany (with the name of “testucchio”) but also Lazio and Umbria. The piantate instead was formed by rows in the border areas of the fields or along the banks of the ditches. They were more widespread in the north-central part of Etruria and in the areas of expansion to the South.  In fact, they remained traditional especially in the Po Valley and Campania.


Therefore, the married vine continued to be part of the Italian rural landscape even after the classical era and it was depicted in the art of all centuries.


Illustration from Tacuina sanitatis (XIV c.)
This beautiful Madonna, with baby Jesus, sits serene near a vine married to a fig tree (right). The work is by the Lombard Bernardino Luini ("Madonna with bunch of grapes", 1480-1485).
This scene of harvesting, from married vines, is by the Tuscan Antonio Tempesta ("September", 1599).

These landscapes also fascinated the foreign travelers of the eighteenth-century who were making their cultural journey in Italy, which was considered indispensable in the youth formation of the educated European class at the time. The landscapes with the married vines are in many paintings of that period. They are also told in the travel diaries, such as by the French architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot in the mid-eighteenth century, visiting Paestum (Suitte Des Plans, Coupes, Profils, Elévations géometrales et perspectives de trois Temples antiques, tels qu’ils existoient en mil sept cent cinquante, dans la Bourgade de Pesto… Ils ont été mésurés et dessinés par J. G. Soufflot, Architecte du Roy. &c. en 1750. Et mis au jour par les soins de G. M. Dumont, en 1764, Chez Dumont, Paris, 1764), or by Goethe with his famous "Journey to Italy" (1813-1817).

Jakob Philipp Hackert, "Country people resting under the vines on the hills above the Solfatara, with views of Ischia, Procida and the bay of Pozzuoli", 1793. We can see the tall poplars with married vines. Aubert de Linsolas wrote in his work " Souvenirs de l'Italie” (1835): “... the branches of the vine intertwined with the great trees at the edge of the roadway, they give the idea of many triumphal arches of greenery, prepared for the passage of a powerful king."
Markó,_Károly_-_Landscape_at_Tivoli,_with_a_Scene_from_the_Grape_Harvest_-_Google_Art_Project z
Markó Károly, "Landscape in Tivoli with harvest scene", 1846. On the right, there is a man who is gathering grapes from a married vine with a ladder.

Elm_and_the_vine 1849

The image so evocative of the vine that embraces the tree, however, did not remain confined only to agrarian contexts. He also lit the imagination of artists and writers, who gave them different symbolic meanings.

From the first century AD, the poetic metaphor of the vine and the tree (especially the elm) appeared in the Latin literature as a symbol of indissoluble love. The vine is "married" to the tree: hence the term vitis maritae (vite maritata, in Italian) which we still use today ("married vine") was born.

For example, Gaius Valerius Catullus identifies the vine and the elm as a wife and husband in the "Bridal Song of boys and girls" (Carmina, poem 62, translation by E. T. Merrill):

“… As the widowed vine which grows in naked field never uplifts itself, never ripens a mellow grape, but bending prone beneath the weight of its tender body now and again its highmost shoot touches with its root; this no farmer, no oxen will cultivate: but if this same chance to be joined with marital elm, many farmers, many oxen will cultivate it: so the virgin, while she stays untouched, so long does she age, uncultivated; but when she obtains fitting union at the right time, dearer is she to her husband and less of a trouble to her father.”

In the Metamorphosis of Ovid (XIV, 623 and following), this metaphor appears in the love story of Vertumnus and Pomona. Vertumnus was a God of Etruscan origin, also remained in the Roman religion. He was the God of the transformations (verto, in Latin, means in fact change): of the change of the seasons but also of the trade. The God fell in love with Pomona, a very ancient Latin goddess of the cultivation of the fruits, which, however, was unapproachable. He tried to reach her with different disguises, and he had succeeded when he took the form of an old woman. Then, he tried to convince her to abandon herself to love with various arguments, including the metaphor of the vine and the elm:

“There was a specimen elm opposite, covered with gleaming bunches of grapes. After he had praised it, and its companion vine, he (the “old woman”) said: ‘But if that tree stood there, unmated, without its vine, it would not be sought after for more than its leaves, and the vine also, which is joined to and rests on the elm, would lie on the ground, if it were not married to it, and leaning on it. But you are not moved by this tree’s example, and you shun marriage, and do not care to be wed. I wish that you did!”

(A. S. Kline's Version)


Vertumnus and Pomona, Francesco Melzi, 1518-1528

At the end of the speech, Vertumnus revealed itself. Pomona, struck by the words heard and the beauty of the God, gave in to love.

This story had great success in the Renaissance and it will remain a very frequent artistic themed until the eighteenth century.

Again, we find in Ovid (Amores, elegia XVI) this theme:

Ulmus amat vitem,
vitis non deserit ulmus;
Separor a domina
cur ego saepe mea?

(The elm loves the vine

The vine does not desert the elm;

Why so many times am I separated from my beloved?)



The theme of the vine married to the tree, however, reached its maximum diffusion thanks to the Milanese jurist Giovanni Andrea Alciato or Alciati (1492-1550). He published a collection of allegories and symbols (reproduced with woodcuts), explaining their moral value with short texts in Latin. The title was "Emblemata", published in Augsburg in 1531. It was an extraordinary success throughout Europe, with translations into Italian, French, Spanish, German and English. Alciato created a real new literary genre, of great success even in the following centuries, the emblem book.

Alciato reported the married vine as the emblem of Friendship and, in its purest form, of Love, with the Latin title:

"Amicitia etiam post mortem durans"

(Friendship that lasts even after death)


alcitati emblema

This interpretation was influenced by an epigram of the Greek poet Antipater of Thessalonica (1st century BC), in which a withered plane tree tells how the vine, climbed on it, keeps it green. Alciato, who is from Lombardy, corrects the Greek's error. The married vine was part of the agrarian landscapes of his native land and therefore he knew very well that it is the elm the ideal husband of the vine, not the plane tree.

Thanks to Alciato and to the success of the emblem book, the symbol of the vine married to the tree had an enormous diffusion and appeared in many artistic representations, in poems and literary works from all over Europe. The married vine of Etruscan, with Mediterranean origin, thus became a decontextualized cultural symbol.

For example, the Flemish Daniël Heinsius, in Emblemata amatoria (1620), rather than to Friendship, returned to bind it to the Imperishable Love, as in the classical era. He returned to use the plane tree too, as in the original Greek epigram. The married vine is the emblem of an eternal love that goes beyond death, with the wording


"Ni mesme la mort", not even death.


It also became the logo of the Elzevier, publishers of Leiden (Holland) from 1580. The current Elsevier publishing house (refounded in the nineteenth century) is the world's largest medical and scientific publisher. Their symbol remains the original one, a life married to a tree, with the meaning of the alliance between learning and literature.

elsevier logo


From the nineteenth century, viticulture became a science and many agricultural treaties flourished, that described in detail the traditional Italian systems. For this part, I referred to the works of two outstanding scholars of the nineteenth and twentieth century, Prof. Ottavio Ottavi and Prof. Domizio Cavazza.

The Italian viticulture of the time, in the center-north, had remained based of that of ancient Rome, with the arbustum italicum (alberata) and of the arbustum gallicum (piantata). These two archetypes, however, had given origin to a myriads of different systems, which (the same scholars admit) were difficult to list in all possible variants. Furthermore, there was a lot of confusion in terms at this point. The term "alberata" was used often to indicate one or the other system.

Especially the elm, maple and poplar were still used. Now we can also understand why.

The ideal, as living tutor, is a plant whit small root system and foliage, because they must not interfere with the development of the vine. The perfect tree is the maple (Acer campestris), the favorite for vines since the ancient Etruscans. It is slow to grow, it has few roots that go deep down and do not interfere with those of the vines. The pruning can model easily its small foliage. It also adapts well to poor and shallow soils.

The elm (Ulmus campestris) remains the most used tree in the north. It has a strong radical expansion but is very long-lived, it produces excellent fodder (leaves) and fagots and wood. It adapts more to the fertile and humid soils of the Po Valley.

The poplar (Populus nigra) was used because of its rapid growth and because it produces fodder and wood. It is not so suitable for the vine, because it has an extensive root system and too dense foliage.

The mulberry (Morus alba) was used above all in Veneto even though it was not suitable. It makes too much competition for the vine. However, it is suitable to put together two businesses: the grapes and the silkworm breeding. However, the introduction of copper treatments at the end of the nineteenth century (which kills the bug) made this coexistence very difficult.

In addition, these trees were used too, to a lesser extent: the willow, the manna ash tree, the ash tree, the dogwood, the lime tree, the hornbeam, the oak, the cherry tree, the olive tree, the walnut and the fig tree.

The simplest system, the old arbustum italicum, was called testucchio. It was widespread especially in Tuscany, but also in the Marche and Lazio, with a slightly different planting and pruning methods. Above all, maples were used, called oppi or loppi in Tuscany (acero, in Italian). Among the testucchi, the winegrowers could also grow low vines, resting them on poles, thus forming a complete row. In the Caserta area, there were similar solutions but with high vines.


The Tuscan "testucchio" after the pruning.
This work by the Florentine painter Raffaello Sorbi shows the married vine (testucchio) of the Tuscan countryside. ("The vine-harvesting party", 1893).
In the left: a married vine from Frosinone area. On the right: a complete row with mixed systems.

In Abruzzo, the vine-shoots were intertwined to form a large horizontal square, forming the so-called capanne or capannoni.


In the area of Aversa (near Naples), the cultivation of Asprinio grapes on poplars reached up to 20 meters in height. Note, in the photo, the size of the man on the tree. In the inter-row, the winegrowers grow other species such as hemp, corn, potato and various cereals.




The "Chianti system" was based on the maple trees, whose branches were pruned to stand horizontally and join those of the neighbors, obtaining a sort of continuous espalier on which the vine climbed.


The “festoons system” (or "tralciaia" or "pinzana") was typical of the areas of Pisa (Tuscany), Caserta, Naples and the Emilia. The festoons were formed by very long intertwined vine-shoots. Sometimes they had to be hold up by sticks or separated by a crossbar.



This eighteenth-century work by Jacob Hackert ("Harvest of the past or autumn") shows the grape harvest in Campania from tall trees with a festoons system.

In Emilia it was mainly used the elm, in Romagna the maple, both much lower. In the area of Ferrara, the vines were very high on walnut trees. In these zones, the rows of "married vines" were often on the edge of the fields and along the ditches.



The "Istrian system" was based on low-grown maples or ash trees, like stumps, from which numerous branches spread out, which were joined to form a circle at a certain height. The vine-shoots stretched up to the circle, then spread out and joined the neighboring trees. This system was used for local varieties such as Terrano, Isolana, Nera tenera and Crevatizza. Prof. Ottavi says that this system was disappearing already at its time.


In the nineteenth-twentieth century, some new mixed forms evolved from the more traditional ones, with wires and poles together with trees, to try to modernize this type of vine-training system. An example was the "ray system" or Bellussi (from the name of the inventors). It was widespread especially in Veneto. The ray systems presented numerous variations.



The mixed pergolas consisted of trees with wooden scaffolding and iron wires. They were located in Tivoli area, in Piedmont and in Emilia.



In any case, in the twentieth century this ancient culture has disappeared.

From 1920, a fungus from Asia decimated the elms (the Dutch elm disease, DED, "grafiosi" in Italian).

In '20s, Prof. Cavazza explained that the gradual disappearance of the "married vines" was due above all to changed technical and economic conditions. He lists the disadvantages of this system with respect to the "dead" tutor (a pole): it takes more time to reach normal production, the trees shade the vine, the grapes mature later, there is greater need for fertilizer (both for the vines and the trees), greater difficulty and expense in pruning and all other work (from treatments to harvest).

Yet he had resisted for a long time even for undoubted advantages, listed by Cavazza himself, as the great longevity of the vineyard. In addition, the tutor trees also give useful products to the farm, such as fodder for animals and faggots. The trees partly protect the vines from frost and hail. Among the trees the winegrowers can cultive other crops... It is simple to understand as these advantages belong however to a promiscuous agriculture, to an old rural world that was not able to exist more.

In fact, above all after the Second World War, the Italian viticulture had a profound transformation. The modern production required a highly specialized viticulture. In this new world, there were no place for the "married vine”, survived for over three thousand years.

If you want to see an Etruscan vineyard, you can come to Guado al Melo: we created it with local wild vines. Alternatively, you can still find one of the above systems in Aversa zone or in some small estates of Tuscany and Emilia Romagna.

Italy has certainly sacrificed much of its rural culture to modernity. The important thing is not to lose its memory, because it is part of our history. This is why a “married vine” is on the label of our wine Atis (Bolgheri DOC Superiore).

Not even death


Nella prossima puntata scopriremo invece le varietà ed i vini Etruschi, oltre che le modalità di vinificazione.

Wine and the Etruscan (I): the first winegrowers

Wine and the Etruscans is a fascinating theme but little known. When people thinks at the antiquity of Italian wine, they thinks almost exclusively to Rome. Obviously Rome has played a fundamental and extraordinary role in the history of wine, but also the Etruscans have been relevant. Above all, they came first and taught so many things to the Romans.

Why do the Etruscans interest we so much?

Because they were the first inhabitants of our lands and were the first winegrowers in Italy. Millennia ago, therefore, he was here in our place, doing our own work!

But who were the Etruscans? Read below  ... if you already know this part, skip it.

After a territorial decription, we will dedicate ourselves specifically to wine.


“... Etruria was so powerful that the fame of it filled not only the land, but the sea as well, and through all of Italy, from the Alps to the Strait of Sicily. “

Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, book I, I c. b.C.



The Etruscan civilisation was the most impressive in the western Mediterranean before the rise of the Romans, from the 9th century to the 1st century BC (with the final conquest by Rome). Historic Etruria comprised a large part of Tuscany and upper Latium, but it eventually spread as far as Emilia and Campania and all the Tyrrhenian Sea. The Latins gave them the name Etruscans, and the area was called Etruria. They referred to themselves, however, as Rasenna, and their nation as Rasna. They were a clearly defined ethno-linguistic group, specialising in commerce, crafts, and agriculture. While recognizing themselves as a nation, the Etruscans does not constitute a political unit: they were split into independent city-states, the first socio-political model of this kind in Italy. They had an extensive network of relationships with the most important civilizations of the Mediterranean (Greeks, Phoenicians, ...), the other people of Italy, as well as with the continental European populations, such as the Celts.


Our territory was characterized by a row of hills parallel to the sea, in the middle of a marshy flat area (the North Maremma), inhospitable and where proliferated malaria. Since prehistoric times the people lived in the hills practicing hunting and gathering wild products. Later, the first permanent settlements arose and thence the first early agricultural societies that gave origin to the Etruscan civilisation.

The great territory wealth was the big mining resources (above all iron), which exploitation initiated from the Bronze Age (12th century BC). In contrast to the large-scale inurbations in southern Etruria, few cities rose in this area, and the populations remained scattered. Three great city-states dominated the coastal area: Pisa, which controlled the northernmost stretches; Volterra dominating the Cecina Valley to the sea; and Populonia in the south. The Etruscans, excellent hydraulic engineers, reclaimed part of marshy plains near the sea, and used it for agriculture.

Our territory, Castagneto Carducci e Bolgheri, was part of city-state of Populonia. Its ancient remains are at few Km from our winery, seaward the charming Gulf of Baratti.


Scansione0003 (2)
In the picture: Populonia graphic reconstruction in the VI c. BC (Val di Cornia Parks). The triangle formed by Volterra, Populonia, and Vetulonia, plus the island of Elba, was named Mining Etruria, for its significant mineral resources: copper, lead, silver and above all hematite (that yielded iron). These resources provided the economic engine for Etruscan commercial and cultural development. Populonia, the only Etruscan city by the sea, became the most prominent iron-production site on the coast from the 6th and 2nd centuries BC. The minerals were mined from the near hills and the island of Elba and all the metal workings were centred around the port of the city, tightly integrated into the general Tyrrhenian commerce routes. Once it entered the orbit of Rome (II c. B.C.), these activities continued.

Populonia declined on the Roman period.

decadde come città già in epoca romana. Claudius Rutilius Namatianus, on V c. A.C., passing along the coast with his boat, saw only ruins:

Close at hand Populonia opens up her safe coast,

where she draws her natural bay well inland...

The memorials of an earlier age cannot be recognised:

devouring time has wasted its mighty battlements away.

Traces only remain now that the walls are lost:

under a wide stretch of rubble lie the buried homes.

Let us not chafe that human frames dissolve:

from precedents we discern that towns can die.

Claudius Rutilius Namatianus, 417 AC

De Reditu Suo (About his return), I, 401-414



In the picture: Populonia today. The city began to decline during the Roman era. In the 3rd century AD, Populonia ceased mining operations and fallen off completely. In the 4th century, there remained only ruins. In the Middle Ages, beginning in the 10th century, mineral extraction began anew, utilising mining techniques very similar to those ancient. In the 19th century, and at the beginning of the 20th, mining started again. The ancient slag heaps that had been deposited in Etruscan times around the gulf of Baratti were re-processed, since they still contained considerable iron resources, left behind by the crude technology of the past. The heaps covered some 10,000 square metres and weighed some 20 million tons. Under several metres of slag emerged the remains of an ancient Etruscan necropolis. Metals mining died out in the late 1970s, as deposits were exhausted, but limestone extraction continues today.

The most important Etruscan site in Castagneto is the Tower of Donoratico, unfortunately not visited because it is located in a private property.

THE TOWER OF DONORATICO. This archaeological site bears remains from various periods. The oldest belong to an Etruscan settlement (3rd-1st c. BC), likely an outpost of the city of Populonia, set here to defend the coast as well as mineral mining activities inland. The settlement retained its strategic importance during the Roman period. During the Middle Ages, it was a modest village (8th c.), then fortified (9th c.) and then enlarged (13th c.). Legend has it that Conte Ugolino found refuge in the castle after the Battle of Meloria, in 1284. It was later abandoned, although the reasons are not yet clear, in the first decades of the 15th century.


So, the Etruscans played a decisive role in the spread of the wine culture in the western world.

They were the first to develop viticulture in Italy introducing their practices into much of the peninsula, from the north (Emilia Romagna) to the south (Campania), Rome included. Great navigators and traders, they came into contact with the cultures of the eastern Mediterranean and introduced in the West cultural aspects of wine, as the religious symbolism and ritual consumption in the symposia. They brougth from East also the oriental grape varieties. Finally, they also spread wine and its culture via commercial channels to the people of western Europe who were still ignorant of this beverage, such as the Celts, the German tribes, and the Iberian peoples.

However, we will go into more detail in the next post.

Parco Archeologico di Baratti e Populonia


Parco Archeologico di Baratti e Populonia, loc. Baratti, Piombino.

Collezione Gasparri, Via di Sotto 8, Populonia Alta.

Museo Archeologico del Territorio di Populonia Cittadella 8, Piombino.

Parco Archo-minerario di San Silvestro, via di Sa Vincenzo Sud 34/b, Campiglia

Museo del Palazzo Pretorio, via Cavour, Campiglia

Museo Archeologico di Cecina, Villa Guerrazzi loc. La Cinquantina, San Pietro in Palazzi.

Museo Civico Archeologico di Rosignano, Palazzo Bombardieri, va del Castello 24.

Area Archeologica di San Gaetano a Vada.

Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Castiglioncello, via del Museo 8, Castiglioncello.

Museo Etrusco Guarnacci, Via Don Giovanni Minzoni 15, Volterra.




Raisin wine, Malvasia grapes based, "La volpe e l'uva": natural sweetness

I'm presenting you a new wine, a very little production that we made to have a excellent raisin wine but not too sweet.

I often dislike sweet wines because they are "heavy", quite nauseous. So, Michele and I decided to produce a perfumed and full-body wine, but with a moderate sweetness.

Its aromas are fantastic: white flowers, apricot, cinnamon, aromatic herbs, orange zest, raisin grapes... In mouth, it is full, with a pleasant sweetness. It is very good as aperitif or after-dinner. It is also optimal in pairing with mature or blue cheeses or fois-gras... It is also good pairing with not too sweet desserts, for exemple with desserts with nuts or chocolate.


la volpe e l'uva

Why the name "La volpe e l'Uva" (The fox and the grapes)?
Do you remember the famous fable of Phaedrus " The Fox and the Grapes " ? In the summer nights we often see foxes in our vineyard. However, rather than on the moral end of the fable, we focus on the eager gaze of the fox, the intense desire for that perfect fruit, unique and precious (as this wine). I made the label thinking to this idea: a great desire that we want to satisfy. The bicolor box is very beautyfull.

Why "natural sweetness"?
Because this wine is produced in artisanl way, without added sugars. Michele made it with an ancient and traditional method, called "mistella". A little portion of the grapes are picked-up and dried on trellis in a cool and airy place. Then they get pressed in a wooden manual press, and added to the must in fermentation of the fresh grapes.  The addition of this concentrate juice causes the arrest of the process, leaving a natural sugar residue. It was aged for 4 years in oak not-new barrels.



Malvasia is a traditional grapes, often used in Italy to produce sweet wines. We have few plants of Malvasia, so we produced only 593 bottles.




A network for "conscious travelers", to discover the cultural identity of a territory

In winter a project was presented us, aimed at creating a tourism brand, focused on enhancing the culture of the territory. Those who know us (or know Guado al Melo) certainly know that it seemed made for us!

We compiled the membership form and now we have the news that we have been selected to be part of the pilot project!

Here is a summary of what it is:


Interreg IT FR marittimo mappa Nuts 3WHERE. The project is centered on a strip of Mediterranean Europe, joined by similar natural environments and cultural continuity: the Italian coastal strip of Tuscany, Liguria and Sardinia, the French Mediterranean coast and Corsica.

WHAT. The project aims to give birth to a network of small local businesses, accumulated by deep territorial and cultural roots. The idea is to present a particular path to "conscious travelers", ie people looking for non-trivial tourist experiences, eager to meet local realities capable of deepening the narration of their territories, savoring real and unique experiences. The network integrates places of memory and nature (such as museums, cities of art, parks) but also places of the human present, represented by itineraries of taste, typical and artisanal productions.

SUSTAINABILITY. The realities that become part of the project must respond to the fundamental principles of cultural, environmental and social sustainability.

THE PROJECT. For now we are still at the beginning. Among the many candidates, 80 (of the territories indicated) were selected , chosen for their particular correspondence to the spirit and purpose of the project. These pilot companies, including us, will now be accompanied in a certification process and (if necessary) adaptation to all the required standards. After that the project can be opened to other realities and, at the same time, promoted to the public.


The project is called S.MAR.T.I.C., acronym of «Sviluppo Marchio Territoriale Identità Culturale», "Development of Territorial Cultural Identity Brand". It is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund from the INTERREG Italy-France Maritime Program 2014-2020.

The reference for the territory of Livorno is the cooperative "Itinera Progetti e Ricerche" +39 0586 894563


Criseo wine conquers all: even "La Cucina Italiana" magazine recommends Criseo 2016



Mediterranean rabbit:

1,5 Kg rabbit

200 g white wine, other for raisins

50 g butter

20 g pine nuts

10 dried tomatoes

Desalted capers

Taggiasca olives




Extravirgin olive oil

Salt and pepper


Soak 2 tablespoons of raisins in white wine for 10 minutes.

Brown the rabbit pieces for about 10 minutes in a large pan with a little oil, salt and pepper. Add the butter and, after 3-5 minutes, 80-100 g of white wine, and  after 2-3 minutes the rest of wine.

Then lower the heat to a minimum, add laurel and rosmary, close the lid and cook for about 20-25 minutes. Then add a little water (if necessary) and cook again for 10-15 min.

Meanwhile coarsely chopped 2 tablespoons of desalted capers, 2 tablespoons of pitted olives, the dried tomatoes, and the squeezed raisins. Add a little oil and the pine nuts to the mixture.

At the end of cooking, add the Mediterranean mixture to the rabbit, stir, close and let it rest for about 10 minutes.


Are you ready for Vinitaly?

We are ready! We will be at Pav. 7, stand B5, c/o our distributor for Italy CuzziolGrandiVini. We'll wait for you at our table, Michele Scienza and Annalisa Motta, as usual.

Thre will be the current vintages of our wine, plus these news:

L'Airone Vermentino 2017
Criseo Bolgheri Bianco 2016
Criseo Bolgheri Bianco 2016


Jassarte 2008 edizione speciale 10 anni
Jassarte 2008 special edition 10 years