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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Tuesday, March 16 2010. 19:50

Caesar’s Favourite Wine May Return in Sicily

Mamertino, the wine drunk by the Roman emperor Julius Caesar in the first century B.C. may soon become a reality, if Planeta winery succeeds in their efforts to grow vine in a vineyard they have just leased in the North of Sicily.

During a visit to the winery, Francesca Planeta, daughter of Diego Planeta, who looks after marketing, had hinted that big news could be announced in a week’s time but would not speculate any further. Apparently, the winery has sealed the deal with all the stakeholders.

Planeta continues its journey through the island’s enology, and after Sambuca, Menfi, Noto and Castiglione di Sicilia where it has its vineyards, is now trying to bring back Mamertino which, according to historical sources, represented the jewel in the crown of Sicilian viticulture during Roman times, together with Taormino. 

The area of the ‘archaeo-enology’ is Capo Milazzo (Messina), a high ridge of land running into water and almost an island, pointing north from Sicily and, apart from the Aeolian wines, the most northern point of the island for viticulture.

Mamertino is the wine of warriors and remembered as such for its particular characteristics.  It was considered as one of the four best wines of Italy during the time of Julius Caesar who chose it to celebrate at the feast for his third Consulate, together with Falerno. 

He was considered the guardian of the vine, because he held it to be a way of linking man to the soil and an instrument of military defence, as the vine growers bitterly opposed any invaders who threatened their vines.

The Baronia of Capo Milazzo, a plateau of about 30 hA and owned by the Lucifero Foundation has leased the 9 hectares planted with vines to Planeta, with the rest covered with ancient olive trees and where cultivation has been  abandoned almost completely for many years.

Planeta plans to retrace the history of this vine with the help of Professor Attilio Scienza who is considered one of the world’s greatest experts in viticulture. This should help to produce the wine that delighted Julius Caesar immensely. 

It is expected to be red wine of the sea, based on the great indigenous grapes from the north of Sicily. The first vintage is expected to be ready in five years. 

‘We believe and hope, just as much today when we look back to the other places in Sicily where we have produced wines that are now a tangible reality and which speak for us, that we will be able to say one day that it was worth the trouble,’ says Francesca who is quite excited about the discovery and the prospect of producing the antique, historical wine..


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