Between wine and sea: the 50th anniversary of D.O.C. "Ischia"

50 anni dopOver thousands of years, the island of Ischia has experienced alternating periods of geological and political stability and its viticulture has followed the story, expanding and changing according to the rhythms of nature and the needs of men. Since the human presence on the island is recognized, before the archaeological excavations and then by written sources, it is possible to recognize three important moments in wine-enology of Ischia. The Greek period, dating back to the eighth century BC, finds its most significant testimony in the discovery of the Cup of Nestor,

a rodiota artifact that brings engraved inscription of praise to wine and love, a sign that the cultivation of the vine and wine production on the island were two popular activities among    the population.
After centuries of geological imbalance, caused by eruptions, earthquakes and bradyseisms;     and political, caused by invasions of various peoples     and     Moors and pirate attacks, between 1400 and 1600 viticulture knows a relative peace, allowing a significant development in the cultivation of new vineyards and in production of wine, in terms of quantity and     quality:     “Greeks, sorbigni, Latin people, horse tail” as they are mentioned, in 1588, Calabrian doctor Giulio Iasolino in his seminal book entitled “De Remedi naturali che sono nell’isola di Pithecusa: oggi detta Ischia”.
Greek and Latin wine Greek and Latin wine, in this period, will lose the old connotations relating to the way of cultivated the screws, low the Greek ones and high and resting on the elm or poplar trees the Latin ones, as it is still possible to recognize in some vineyards of Ischia ; and instead they will show two different ways of making wine. The grapes dried on racks give the Greek wine, the least amount but more sweet, alcoholic, long-lasting and therefore highly sought after because even transported over long distances; the grapes immediately pressed instead give the Latin wine, produced in large quantities but of lower quality.
Finally between 1800 and 1900, the wine-enology of Ischia takes new vigor so as to give a particular character to the natural landscape and at the same port, opened in 1854. The Epomeo slopes are shaped by narrow terraces supported     by     parracine, the characteristic dry walls in green tuff, typical of the island.
In the first decades of the twentieth     century,     there were about 3000 hectares of land planted with vines, so precious to be sold at 140 square     meters     measures at the value of 250-280 lire (18.000 to 20.000 lire per hectare in 1914). In the port zone,     surrounded     on     all sides by carats of chestnut wood took place before the reclamation, ie the recovering of the wooden containers with sea water, and then the cuffed, or the wining of the containers with boiling wine, after the emptying of sea water. At the port, were built during the same period, three factories of barrels, to demonstrate the intense and profitable business that the island had with the mainland.
Towards modernity: ancient and recent vineyards
Not only the ways of cultivating and producing wine in Ischia have adapted to the natural and historical changes, but also the vineyards have taken place over the centuries.
Some are present in the island since time immemorial, as Biancolella, Guarnaccia, the Cannamelu; others, such as Forastera and Per’ ‘e Palummo or Piedirosso, there were introduced after the outbreak of oidium in 1850 that destroyed many vineyards not only in Ischia but in all Campania. Just Biancolella, Forastera, and Per’ ‘e Palummo (Piedirosso) are the most popular varieties today and at the base of D.O.C. wines
The first historical records on Biancolella are by Giuseppe D’Ascia that mentioned it in his “Storia dell’isola d’Ischia” of 1867. Many scientists got interested in the importance and dissemination of this variety, quoted or described by Giuseppe Frojo (1878) Jean Foëx (1909), Salvatore D’Ambra (1962), Sante Bordignon (1965). About its origin, was long considered that the Biancolella came from the surroundings of Bastia in Corsica and was brought from there to Ischia. It is possible that the misunderstanding about the origin is rather arose from a remote location, Bastia to the north western of Epomeo from where is probably derived the variety appearance on the island and not imported from other places. The Forastera, as the name implies, is not mentioned by D’Ascia, a sign of its introduction back to 1867, and although lower than the Biancolella quality, it quickly spread for the resistance aspect and for increasing production. The Per’ ‘e Palummo has always been known by this name in Campania - while     its     Italianisation in     Piedirosso     is     fairly recent – it has been and is     currently     considered one of the red vineyards grape varieties the most interesting in Campania. There are also its old historical quotations such as ones by Nicola Columella Onorati in 1804 and even Giuseppe Frojo (1876)     who     considered it so expressive to be compared to the French wines such as Beaujolais.
1966 the year of the “Appellation d’origine contrôlée”
The first production regulations for wines from the island of Ischia is dated March 3, 1966, when the Decree of the President of the Republic (DPR), then published in the Official Gazette on May 9 of that year, recognizes the designations of origin controlled and protects the three types of Ischia bianco superiore, Ischia bianco, Ischia rosso. Subsequently, in 1993, the original specification is amended to take account of the importance of three varieties mentioned before and is then recognized the “Ischia” D.O.C.  in the white and red
Forastera, Biancolella, Piedirosso (Per’ ‘e Palummo), in addition to the types “Ischia spumante” and “Piedirosso (Per’ ‘e Palummo) passito”.
It must be said that the grape varieties allowed to D.O.C. for white wines are: “Forastera” and “Biancolella”; for the red ones: “Guarnaccia”, “Piedirosso” (“Per’ e Palummo”), in different percentages according to the types.
The year 2016 therefore marks a historic day for the viticulture of the island of Ischia, 50 years after the recognition of what, in chronological order, was the first D.O.C. denomination in Campania and among the top three in Italy.
A recognition that extolled the extraordinary physical and intellectual labors of the “men of the earth”, and protected the island’s agricultural economy based on wine and men as guardian of an ultra-millennial and priceless heritage. Even today, despite the economic sources are diversified, Ischia is one of the most cultivated of the small Italian islands, and its wine is famous in the world.



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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
  • Cities: 6
  • Inhabitants: 58.029


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