Wine Stories Jessica Bordoni

In Sardinia the oldest winemaking in the Mediterranean

In Sardinia the oldest winemaking in the Mediterranean

The cradle of the Mediterranean winemaking civilisation? According to a recent study it is one of our two main islands, Sardinia. The announcement has come from the University of Cagliari, under Professor Gian Luigi Bacchetta with his archaeobotanical team from the biodiversity conservation Centre, and Professor Pierluigi Caboni, with his Food Chemistry research group.

The “tower” press from the Iron Age was used to make wine 

It all started in 1993 in Monastir, in the Nuragic village of Bia de Monti – Monte Zara in the province of Cagliari, when the archaeologist Giovanni Ugas discovered a “tower” press with a vat dating back to the Iron Age, about 1200 years B.C.. Researchers have analysed the organic residues inside the vat and reached the conclusion that it was used to produce wine. This would make the ancient Sardinians living in the Nuraghi, the first wine producers in the Mediterranean area that we have evidence of.

The oldest winemaking in the Mediterranean

“Inside the vat, a crystalline agglomerate and tartaric acid were identified, which convinced us to continue with a more in-depth analysis,” explained professor Caboni. “We carefully examined the fragments and now we can say with certainty that this is the oldest find of its kind in the Mediterranean area. It is an essential discovery, because it enables us to put an important piece of the puzzle in place to identify the first production of wine. The analysis shows that it was most probably red wine.”

Debunking the theory of the Sardinians and Phoenicians

The results are along the same lines as the finding of grape seeds in the Nuragic settlement of Sa Osa, in the province of Oristano, also dating back to 1200 B.C. (the discovery was officially presented at the Milan Expo 2015). Until now, it used to be thought that wine had been introduced to Sardinia by the Phoenicians in 800 B.C., but the theory of an earlier winemaking activity on the island (and we are talking about four centuries earlier) is becoming more concrete, to the point of debunking their role as pioneers of wine in the Mediterranean Basin.

 

 

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