Allegrini 2018

In Vinci, the “Leonardo Wine Genius”, an interactive space dedicated to the Genius and his passion for wine

The project was signed by Cantine Leonardo da Vinci and Caviro. Attilio Scienza: “Leonardo has torn the darkness of the unknown, even in enology”

A journey through time to discover Leonardo da Vinci’s love for botany and enology, his deep bond with the earth, from agronomic studies to the most sophisticated scientific and engineering insights: here is the interactive exhibition “Leonardo: The gift of the vineyard”, in the exhibition space “Leonardo Wine Genius” (a gallery that, in the nineteenth century, accommodated a wine museum), inaugurated today by Cantine Leonardo da Vinci and Caviro, with the patronage of the Municipality of Vinci, which will also host a tasting area. Over the centuries, the figure of Leonardo da Vinci has never stopped to fascinate and amaze in all its facets and interpretations: in addition to being an inventor, scientist, and brilliant artist, he was also a lover of good drinking, pioneer agronomist, winemaker, and a taster so much to define wine as “divine liquor of the grape”. The exhibition “Leonardo: The gift of the vineyard”, in collaboration with Giunti Editore, a historic Florentine publishing house engaged for over half a century in a project of disclosure and reproduction of Leonardo’s codes, tells about Leonardo’s passion and love for viticulture and the wine.
The path, with the scientific advice of Professor Attilio Scienza, one of the leading experts in enology in the world, unfolds firstly by talking about the territory of Vinci - which vines and which wines existed at the time of Leonardo - and then narrating the report of the Genius from Vinci with the nectar of the gods. From his early Tuscan experience to his trip to Romagna in 1502, when Cesare Borgia hired him for his skills and knowledge as a military engineer, and there the great Master was able to taste local wines and understand highly developed winemaking techniques. In Romagna, he will draw two bunches of grapes in a notebook with the note “Grapes brought to Cesena”: the only sketch of the fruit of the grapes that has come down to us, digitized and exhibited in space.
It then continues with the story of the Milanese years at the court of Ludovico il Moro, who gave him a hectare of the vineyard - the remains of which found in the garden of the Atellani house make part of the exhibition - as a reward for the creation of the Last Supper. Testimony of Leonardo’s pioneering vision and the subject of the exhibition is the text of the letter sent in 1515 by Leonardo to his farmer from Fiesole, in which he complains about the wine received in Milan, identifying the reasons for the poor outcome of the product in the wrong vinification methods, and thus proving his skills as an agronomist, taster, and winemaker.

“We have all rediscovered Leonardo’s relationship with agriculture, and therefore with wine, at the 500 years since his death, in 2019”, remembers SimonPietro Felice, CEO of the Caviro Group and Leonardo da Vinci Spa. “In Vinci, Leonardo was entrusted to his grandparents and raised by them in the countryside, following his rhythms. Uncle Francesco was very fond of agriculture and vineyard, oil and wheat, a passion shared with Leonardo. At the time, European viticulture was certainly not what it is today, and Leonardo, alone, began a meticulous study of the transformation of grapes into wine, its conservation, and its quality. He began by studying nature, and from nature, he understood how to make good wine, out of simple personal passion. He was the first to understand the goodness of moderate daily wine consumption. In terms of oenological and agronomic legacy, Leonardo’s work starts from the fertilization of the land, obviously natural (which we are also trying to adopt in Caviro), according to his principles, that is only with what can be found in the earth. Then, Leonardo was able to establish two fundamental principles: cold management and protection from oxygen, principles now taken for granted, but correct even then. The Genius - continues SimonPietro Felice - is an inspiration to make wines that are increasingly good and long-lived, aware that today’s technology is another thing, even though we do not have his genius. We were the pioneers in the world of wine, thanks to Leonardo da Vinci we were at the forefront, before France and Spain, it is no coincidence that today we are the first wine exporter in the world”.
From a historical, philosophical, artistic, and scientific point of view, “it is never easy to talk about Leonardo, a man of great imagination and fantasy”, explains Professor Attilio Scienza. “He was not the man of doing, but of thinking. What he had come up with was not always achievable, on the contrary. It was a light for all those who came after him, because Leonardo, first of all, is a man of the Renaissance, an era that, emerged from the Middle Ages and opens up then to the classical world. Like other thinkers and artists, before and after him, Leonardo had imagined a trip to a cave, moved by the desire to discover the forms of nature. Arriving there he was seized by fear and desire, the fear of the unknown and the desire to discover and learn, looking over an impenetrable night, the first chaos from which everything derives and to which we always want to return.
Plato, who considers knowledge divided into two kinds: sensitive (doxa) and intelligible (episteme), immediately comes to mind and with the myth of the cave he moves knowledge from doxa to episteme. Dante also refers to darkness, the “dark forest”, the anguish of the Middle Ages, a darkness to be torn. Just like Goethe who, dying, shouts “mer Licht!” (more light!): knowledge is the key, light, which is also the purpose of this exhibition. Knowledge - concludes Attilio Scienza - is the sediment on which we build, our roots, and here they are found. We have always considered Leonardo a great artist, and as such he bequeathed us a still life that has now disappeared: on the corner of the Last Supper, there were bunches, taken by Caravaggio, the first example of an Italian school of still life after that of the Flemings. At the oenological level, from the forms of farming to the drying of the grapes, Leonardo left us many teachings, rediscovered even before the Expo, when the mayor Moratti asked us to rebuild Leonardo’s vineyard. With the Milan University, we researched the roots and recovered the Malvasia vineyard, a vine of which he was absolutely fascinated. We discover, however, that it is not a Greek grape variety, as previously thought: the Malvasia di Candia, in fact, has remarkable genetic similarities with many grape varieties of the Po Valley. Indeed, Candia is a small town between Voghera and Pavia, other than Greece. That grape cluster, and those leaves, are those of the still life of the Last Supper”.

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