Very little is known about Casavecchia, a grape variety believed to have been cultivated and highly prized for winemaking in antiquity and then forgotten by modernity.
According to legend, the ampelonym — Casavecchia or old house — refers to the ruins of an ancient Roman home where farmers rediscovered this generous however mysterious grape, with berries so big and juicy that many were tempted to grow the variety for table fruit.
Some hold that Casavecchia was the grape used for a wine the Romans called Trebulanum, probably after the ancient city of Trebula (modern-day Treglia, in the Pontelatone municipality in Caserta).
In the 1990s, when the interest in indigenous grape varieties surged, a number of producers began bottling Casavecchia and there were a handful of labels available in New York while I was living there in the mid-2000s.
Last night, we debuted Trebulanum by the Alois winery at Sotto in Los Angeles. An old-school large-cask-aged expression of the grape, it’s the best 100% Casavecchia available in the U.S. today imho.
The wine is chewy and tannic, with bright, bright acidity you wouldn’t expect in a wine with this much tannic structure.
It’s easy to see why the farmers of Caserta are so “jealous” of this wine, at least according to one folktale I found. They say that the farmer guardians of this magical wine blended other grapes into the bottlings they sold to the city folk who had made the journey inland to procure the coveted stuff.
No need to worry, Angelenos: we’re pouring it liberally tonight at the restaurant!
Come down and see me if you’re in town…