Natural wine circa 1896 & a Negroamaro breakthrough

From the department of “so much to tell, so little time”…

open vat fermentation

Above: open-vat fermentation at leading Natural wine producer Radikon in Oslavia, Friuli.

My research into the origins of the enonym Negroamaro delivered a small miracle this morning: Notizie e studi intorno ai vini ed alle uve d’Italia (Wines and Grapes of Italy: News and Studies), a census of Italian wines and grape varieties commissioned and published by the Italian government (then a monarchy) in 1896, when Italy was in its fourth decade of unification.

I’ve posted my findings over at the CanteleUSA blog, which I author for my friend and client Paolo Cantele, whose family produces Negroamaro.

But one of the most interesting finds was an ante litteram definition of natural wine by means of a litotes. (As Joe Dressner used to say, there are those among us who know what a litotes is and those who don’t.)

The first chapter of this amazing almanac of Italian ampelography is devoted to the authors’ methodology and the requirements for submissions, i.e., protocols for sending them wines to analyze in future editions.

It’s fascinating to read (at least for me) because it offers remarkable insights into how wine was made, stored, and shipped in fin de siècle Italy.

The authors will not include “adulterated” wines in their census and the following is their definition for adulteration (translation mine).

    “Adulteration” is defined as the addition of any substance that is not found naturally in wine, any substance that does not belong to the rational processes of vinification, or substances that are naturally found in wine when the added quantity of said substances exceeds the limits found in natural wine or the limits of the reciprocal ratios that are found in the wines themselves.

As it turns out, the notion of Natural wine isn’t as young as we may think.

Click here for the new findings that support my theory that Negroamaro means bitter black and not black black as some have speculated.

In other news…

Click here for a fun piece I posted earlier this week on the Bele Casel blog on the origins of the expression ombra de vin.

In other other news…

Today is our fourth wedding anniversary!

Tracie P., I love you. Thank you for what have truly been the four most wonderful years of my life.


6 thoughts on “Natural wine circa 1896 & a Negroamaro breakthrough

  1. i love you too, 2B! my best years started when you sent me that first email :) looking forward to what our future brings, we’re so proud of you…love you :)

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