Skip Blue Nun, try Old Monk

June 21, 2002

The University of Siena is to recreate medieval Chianti wine after reconstructing the vineyards attached to a Tuscan monastery. The wine will be as close as possible to that of the Middle Ages, using the original variety of grape and techniques of cultivation and wine production employed hundreds of years ago.

The programme, which is expected to produce about 30,000 bottles of wine in 2004-05, centres on the Certosa di Pontignano, a 14th-century monastery owned by the university with 10 hectares of excellent vineyard soil.

The radical relandscaping of Pontignano's fields and terraces to restore them to the way they were when tilled by medieval monks, is already under way, as is the planting of the new/old variety of vine.

This follows research in Tuscan libraries and archives, and years of study by archaeologists, botanists and medieval historians, as well as geographers from Siena University and agronomists from Florence University.

The agricultural work is being undertaken by a local farming company, Dievole, which is already a major Chianti producer with lengthy experience in collecting and preserving hundreds of varieties of vine. What is believed to be an accurate copy of the original native vine of Chianti has been reconstructed from the company's stock and is being planted at Pontignano.

"This is an operation to combat the standardisation of the species (of vine)," explained Valerio Zorzi, the agronomist responsible for the project.

"In Pontignano we will produce a Chianti that is totally different from anything produced today."

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