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Ancient grape varieties

antique grape varieties (GB)

Many of today's varieties probably have inheritance from old vines that were used in ancient times by Greeks, Romans and Phoenicians were cultivated. However, most of the traditional grape varieties still in existence today only emerged from the varieties available at the time in the Middle Ages or later centuries. Most of the ancient grape varieties had a blue or black berry color. The red, yellow and green varieties are only later mutation emerged and were created by vegetative propagation received as independent color variants. So are Pinot Blanc. Pinot gris and Pinot Meunier by buds mutations on Pinot emerged. Which varieties were actually cultivated by the Romans can only be guessed today, because of the Roman varieties there is nothing but Latin names and rough descriptions. The map shows the Roman Empire at the time of its greatest expansion at the end of the reign of Emperor Hadrian (53-117).

Ancient grape varieties - Roman Empire at the time of its greatest expansion in 115 AD

Grape varieties in ancient Rome

However, the variety names used by the Romans were no longer in use during the Middle Ages. For example, 2000 years later, due to traditional names alone, there are no longer any clear linguistic bridges to the grape varieties that still exist today. The molecular Genetics DNA analysis would only be of help here if fossil grape remains from Roman excavations were found directly with the DNA varieties still available today. So far, however, this has not been attempted. One is therefore entirely dependent on the rough descriptions, which are based on certain properties of the vine in terms of morphology ( blossoms. shoots. Grapes. leaves ), Susceptibility to illness, growth cycle and wine types only suggest a relationship to today's varieties at best, rather imprecisely.

The basis for this are the descriptions of Roman viticulture by contemporary witnesses. For example, historical rapporteurs like Strabo (63 BC to AD 28), Columella (1st century) and Pliny the Elder (23-79) mentions the most important grape varieties of their time in their works and in some cases describes in detail cultivation methods, fertility (yields) and the quality of the ancient wines made from them. Among them were the varieties Allobrogica. Aminea. Arcelaca (also argitis), Biturica (also Balisca or Cocolubis) and Nomentana, Pliny mentions a local Holconia grape variety, which in Pompeii was named after one of the most famous families there. Of Sicily The Greeks gave up long before the turn of the times Murgentina introduced to Pompeii, which developed very well on the volcanic soil of the Vesuvian slopes.

Descendants of the ancient grape varieties

Also the one widespread today in Emilia-Romagna Lambrusco with their numerous varieties can be counted in a broader sense, because this variety (or an ancestor of it) already mentioned Cato the Elder (234-149 BC). In general, one can assume that varieties still exist in the warm, Mediterranean-style cultivation zones whose ancestors were already cultivated by the Greeks, Romans and Phoenicians and at least passed on their genes. That could be Aglianico. César. Chasselas. Coda di Volpe Bianca. Falanghina. Fiano. Greco. Greco Bianco. korinthiaki and Lambrusca di Alessandria (see also under César ). The ancient civilizations have probably already dealt with the breeding (Crossing) new varieties.

Ancient grape varieties - Aglianico, Coda di Volpe Bianca, Falanghina, Greco, Lambrusco di Alessandria

However, there is no clear and scientifically recognized evidence. What may apply to the southern growing zones certainly does not apply to the northern continental growing regions. Because you have to be aware that the warming and late-ripening Mediterranean varieties were not necessarily successful there. For this reason, it is assumed that in regions that are more threatened by winter frost, crossroads with local ones Wild vines have taken place to ensure a shortened ripening phase and higher frost hardness. Since that too Celts (Gauls) already engaged in viticulture it is believed that old varieties such as Pinot and Traminer were already cultivated in Roman times. The old age and the wide spread would then explain why there are many, regional mutations respectively. Klonvarianten of these varieties could train.

Some apparently plausible assumptions had to be revoked based on genetic kinship analyzes. Such is the Roman vine mentioned by the two authors Columella and Plinius already mentioned Vitis albuelis (Vitis alba) most likely not with the white one Elbling equate, because as a child of the White Heunisch ( Gouais Blanc ) certainly only emerged in the late Middle Ages. This also applies to well over a hundred other grape varieties such as Aligoté. Blaufränkisch. Chardonnay. Gamay. Knipperlé and Riesling with Heunisch / Gouais Blanc as parent. See also under Ancient wines. Vines systematics (Taxonomy) and a list of all vine-relevant keywords under the keyword grapevine,

Grape varieties: MIPAAF - National Vine Certification Service
Map: From Sebastian Wallroth , derived: Roman Provinces and Map of Europe , CC BY-SA 3.0 , link

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