by Fred McMillin
for July 18, 1997
Prologue: Two thousand years ago Pliny wrote about a grape whose clusters resembled a fox's tail, the Alopecis.
The Rest of the Story: Imagine the excitement in my wine history course if I could serve a Pliny foxtail wine. The Latin word for an animal's tail is "cauda" and for fox is "vulpes." Would you believe, the Coda di Volpe vine has survived, and Antonio Mastroberardino makes a white wine from it. If you want to locate a bottle in the USA, phone Marsha Palanci at (212)605-0370 and ask for the Lacryma Christi Bianco, 100% Coda di Volpe, $15.
That's not all. British critic Hugh Johnson calls Antonio a true viticultural archeologist. He makes wines from other ancient Roman vines. He has revived their Apianum, known today as the Fiano. It is grown 20 miles inland from Mt. Vesuvius, among hazelnut plantations near the city of Avellino. The mineral soil and hazelnut orchards produce a white of rare depth...Radici, Fiano di Avellino, 100% Fiano. $26. (Radici means "roots.") Marsha can get this one for you, too.
Just the Facts
Postscript: About that wine name "Lacryma Christi": It means "tears of Christ." Legend says that when Christ (Christ was 25 years old when Pliny was born) witnessed the lifestyle of Naples, he wept and gave root to the vines. Rival vintners are said to have promoted a different story...that the tears flowed because the wines were so poor.
Read more articles by Fred McMillin in the eGGsf
Welcome to WineDay, the electronic Gourmet Guide's daily update. Monday through Thursday, WineDay presents a wine profile. Then on Fridays we present the Winery of the Week to take you through the weekend
Foodwine.com | FoodDay
Copyright © 1997—the electronic Gourmet Guide, Inc. All rights reserved.