SEPTEMBER 8 2018

Phoenician Wine Day 2018

In search of the origins of viticulture in Sicily, a project of excavation and research on Mozia – one of the most flourishing centers of the Mediterranean for many centuries – has retraced the steps of vine cultivation and the production of wine through archaeological-botanical analysis and DNA examination. The discoveries come on behalf of the scientific team of the Archaeological Mission in Mozia from the Sapienza University, in synergy with the Superintendency of Trapani, the G. Whitaker Foundation and Tasca d’Almerita.
On Saturday, September 8 at 6:30pm “Motya phoenician wine day” provided the stage to preview the very recent discoveries made in the excavation campaigns. Professor Lorenzo Nigro, head of the excavation campaign, spoke first, setting the scene about the first Phoenicians on Mozia and their contribution to the initial viticultural practices on the island. A new oenological-archaeological route will be inaugurated around the excavation areas where ancient grape seeds of probable Phoenician origin have been found. “In the last excavations with our archaeo-botanists, we have identified numerous grape seeds in the most ancient strata of the Phoenician colony. The study of these finds and of the installations connected to them as well as to the containers of wine – describes Lorenzo Nigro – reveals the role of this beverage in the society and culture of the “Western Phoenicians”.
Giacomo Ansaldi oenologist of the “Federico Paulsen” regional plant nursery enlightened the audience on the story of Sicily’s most contemporary vine, Grillo, the last born varietal on the island.
“Mozia is a cradle that has held the roots of the vine for over 3,000 years. From the Phoenicians onward, the island has never stopped cultivating. Here, in the early 20th century, the first nucleus of Grillo was likely planted directly from the Favara nursery, where the most contemporary grape cuttings at the time were created – says Ansaldi – On the island we have the great fortune to discover the most ancient plants still in production today, which with their seventy-some years of age are interesting examples of adaption of the vine to the place. Together we will disover the genetic profile of this vine and its history”. 
The schedule of the event included a walk in search of the Phoenician traces “From archeology to viticulture”; followed by a panel discussion “Discovering the origins of wine on the island of Mozia and the genesis of Grillo through paleobotany and the analysis of the DNA of the vine”. In addition to Lorenzo Nigro,  director of the Archaeological Mission on Mozia, other guest speakers were: Claudia Moricca (paleobotanist with a thesis on vines in the Mediterranean), Teresa Rinaldi (expert in wine yeasts), Rodolfo Negri (ancient DNA expert), Giacomo Ansaldi (oenologist at the “Federico Paulsen” Regional plant nursery).
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