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Allegrini 2018
WINEMAKING HISTORY

Discovering the roots of winemaking in Franciacorta, from Ancient Rome to the Middle Ages

“The origins of Franciacorta and the Italian Renaissance”, written by the historian Gabriele Archetti for the Consortium led by Silvano Brescianini

The history of Franciacorta has ancient and deeply rooted origins, in a territory where the cultivation of the vine has been a constant practice. Starting from the Roman Period, and continuing through Late Antiquity all the way up until the Middle Ages, the soil and climatic conditions have always favored the cultivation of the vine. The fact that the contemporary image of Franciacorta has been acknowledged only in modern day and that is, in the second half of the twentieth century, due basically to its entrepreneurial management, does not mean that it did not experience moments of independence that shaped its identity. Thus, like all the great wine-producing areas in the world, it has now become one of the most important Italian wine territories, recognized as such abroad as well. This is the reason why there is a desire to reconstruct the genesis of this territory. Its history began with the enclosed properties and the Benedictine “curtes francae” (tax-and duty-free trade areas) of Abbeys such as Santa Giulia of Brescia and its villages Timoline, Borgonato, Iseo and Cellatica, names that still exist today in the Franciacorta territory. The Benedictine monks were renowned as custodians and spreaders of knowledge, and they realized the importance of this area, which they cultivated and developed, instructing also the locals, as they had done in all the important wine-producing areas in the world. The monks were also the first to interact with the land to guarantee nourishment and sustenance. The history of the territory is described in detail in the book, “The origins of Franciacorta and the Italian Renaissance”, which narrates the origins of Franciacorta. The text, edited by Professor Gabriele Archetti, Professor of Medieval History at the Faculty of Education at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, intends to make the history of Franciacorta wine, which has its roots in the Middle Ages, widely known. The Consortium of Franciacorta and its president Silvano Brescianini, who is particularly interested in the historical implications on the territory commissioned the manuscript.
Today, thanks also to a very recent study on the Napoleonic Land Register, it has been possible to reconstruct which crops were planted in 1809 for each municipality in Franciacorta, emphasizing that winemaking for self-consumption and most of all for commercial purposes was well rooted in the territory and in the tradition of its population. The land register was created during the Napoleonic era and it is the result of a survey carried out by land surveyors who collected information on each administrative unit with the help of a local expert, and subsequently, they drew up a general map of each Municipality. The tedious and complicated research work was carried out over a period of two years and has been fully digitalized, highlighting the existence of almost 1.000 hectares of viticulture in various forms. Further, on another 9.940 hectares, some vines and rows of vineyards were found alongside a main crop (arable land, fields and planted areas). The data is reliable and clearly illustrates that by the beginning of the 19th century wine production was a very important activity for the 40.000 inhabitants, intended not only for self-consumption, but above all for sales.
“We have established an excellent collaboration with Professor Archetti in recent years, acknowledging his key contribution to the wine world, especially his work “Tempus Vindemie”, in which he has meticulously documented our history”, explained Silvano Brescianini. “We have therefore considered it appropriate to ask Archetti himself for a summary of his writings to be given to wine experts and enthusiasts, considering it the responsibility of the Consortium. Testimonies, especially of Gallo and Conforti, date the “brindar Mordace” in use by the noble Brescian families to 1500, and we also learn in the text how important the production of wine in the Lombard age was and how the bishop of Brescia classified, by village, the wines he received as tithes”, concluded Brescianini.
“Situated in a favorable environmental setting, where the soil and the mild climate combine in a unique way, over the centuries Franciacorta has expressed a special wine-making ability that, in the last fifty years, has intelligently completed a thousand-year production experience”, said the author, professor Gabriele Archetti. “There are few regions in Europe that can boast a specialized and continuous high quality cultivation, like Franciacorta. The best way for the Franciacorta Consortium to bring attention to the work of many generations, their ability to contour the soil and their skill in creating a fermented wine that today is synonymous with the place where it is produced, is to celebrate this goal. It is a beautiful story where past and present are already part of the future”.

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