Looking for the lost vine, the Guarnaccia

Agriturismo la pergola

In the Cimmento Rosso area, in the municipality of Forio, La Pegola farm rises. A place for the recovery of traditions and the reverence of table pleasures, from food to good drinks. Here, you can find jams with rare and special tastes and traditional food like the rabbit Cacciatora.
From the reception point, from which the rooms spread, the path is pleasant: green tuff stones encircle the thick vegetation; the dry walls ‘contain’ the lush and thick vines of a greenery so intense almost blinding the view. The panorama is exciting, the intense blue of the sea supports the green of the vines and over the sea overlays the blue sky so fair and clear. The narrow street that runs along the vineyards leads to a cave of green tuff, an old cellar that hides the most precious secret of the farm.

In the face, two millstones - a real rarity - an old grape-growing system, typical of the Mediterranean islands and emblem of the wine Ischia. Unmistakable testimony that wine in this place is an ancient art.
Giosuè produces an excellent wine, the fruit of the family vineyards, which has been engaged in production for 5 generations, from 1800 to today. Giosuè tells that today’s La Bussola restaurant, belonging to the Colella family, was an old cellar. Wine was stored there, brought from the countryside to be sold, transported by mule back in the varricchielle, 125 lt containers, a gerund term, probably due to a transfiguration of the term barrique barriquella (the smallest barrique). From here the inflection exquisitely dialectical varriquella.  
The secret that hides the small tuff cellar has a name: it is Guarnaccia, a vine present on the Island from time immemorial, but that of its origin there is no tangible proof. Giosuè was overwhelmed by the characteristics of the Guarnaccia and fascinated by the mystery that envelops this grape without relations, clear origins, or acclaimed bibliography.
A question begs the thoughts of the Colella family:
‘Why a vine with extraordinary characteristics is confined to the vineyards oblivion?’
Here is where the family of Colella’s family wishes rises to regain this vine. A desire that hides the will to defend the island to be an island, to maintain the strong identity of a circumscribed place, isolated from other realities and which, thanks to its strong character identity has allowed the preservation of unique heritage, unlike any other corner of the world.
Since 2016, the Colella family produces Guarnaccia in purity, achieving results above all expectations: the wine has a gentle and floral scent with delicate hints of small red fruits; the palate is balanced, fresh and with soft tannins. A wine that looks like a class and invites to a satisfying and repeated taste until the end of the glass. An elegant wine that lends itself well to culinary combinations and in keeping with the logic that imposes the current market.
So why don’t you enjoy the same reputation as the most popular Piedirosso and Biancolella? Although Guarnaccia is admitted in the production like ‘Ischia Rosso Doc’ up to 40-50%, would not be able to satisfy any request. This is because the grape is present in small quantities compared to other widespread vines, often it is in incognito in plots of other varieties in the order of a few strains, between Biancolella, Forastera and Piedirosso, from sometimes a Guarrnaccia plant. It is unreasonable to think that some peasants even ignore it in their multi-varietal vineyards. The modest quantities of this grape variety find an exhaustive explanation in the old peasant farms: Guarnaccia is the one, which is called, cutting grapes, category to which those grapes can dampen the abundance and lack of the prevailing grapes in the cut, thus resulting complementary to the latter. Thanks to its red blood color and its softness, La Guarnaccia is able to invigorate the color of the other vines present in doses that are more massive and at the same time increasing the wine.
Guarnaccia is a red grape variety of which no news has been forthcoming, with a name that gives more confusion than certainties. Indeed, the name can lead to a close relationship with the Grenache, the French variety, best known in Italy with the name of Cannonau. This vine would seem to come from Spain (where it is called Garnacha Tinta)
It is excluded that Garnacha Tinta coincides with the variety Vernaccia, another Italian varietal spread in Sardinia, with which it has an auditory assonance but no ampelographic familiarity. Everything seems to spin as smooth as oil but, unfortunately, no DNA tests confirmed this hypothesis. Moreover, no historical document clarifies the origin of Guarnaccia, and can be considered one of the many grapes imported from Greece at the time of Greek colonization in the 7th century BC. The dislocation of the vine, mainly concentrated on the Campano seashore, in Ischia and Calabria, supports this hypothesis. In the green island, it is very popular and it is cut with Piedirosso.
Other studies carried out on the island of Ischia affirm that Vernaccia grapes and Tintora grapes are synonymous of the same variety (see Bordigon), this description coincides with the Guarnaccia described by S.D'Ambra. It is therefore concluded that Vernaccia and Guarnaccia are identical.
Perhaps we will never come to the question of the origin of this vine, because synonymys and homonyms in the wine-growing field are on the agenda. In fact, it is very common that two identical vines are cataloged with different names in the same place, and that one vine is indicated by homogeneous names in different places. Giosuè wants to make it clear on this great potential. There are two sites where the variety has been studied and compared - Fango and Spadara - in the municipality of Forio.
In the Fango area, the Colella family owns 300 meters of Guarnaccia from which Guarnaccia gets pure. Determined to retrieve the ancient Ischian grape, Guisuè has grafted another 850 plants, in order to continue micro-vinification. To date, the production is 700 liters and the characteristics of the wine are in accordance with what is reported on the Atlante dei vitigni dell’isola Ischia: acidity and sugar content are not excessively high. The nuances are red blood and the profile of the wine is kind and balanced. The vine comes with medium-sized bunches, cone-shaped with compact densities. The berries are also medium in size, with good concentrations of wool on medium thick and rough black skins. The vine is vigorous, with constant and medium yields with maturation that arrives at the end of September.
The origins of this vine are not clear and how it came to the island, but the evidence shows that the vine exists and it is a moral duty to be able to preserve its identity. A combative identity of a mysterious vine that came to us without leaving a trace of its path, a grape that has resisted the logic of land exploitation, which was considered a priority in the last century, a period in which the strength, the alcoholic strength, over the high yields per hectare. Guarnaccia is a mysterious vine that tells the identity of the island of Ischia, an island that like a chest protects and perpetuates the biodiversity of small treasures.

 

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Info on Ischia island

  • Surface: 46 Kmq
  • Hight: 789 mt
  • Lat.: 40° 44',82 N
  • Long.: 13° 56',58 E
  • Periplus: 18 miglia
  • Coasts: 51.2 Km
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