Saturday, 27 April 2013

X is for Xinomavro grape ...



... the “sour black” principal red wine grape (vitis vinifera) of the uplands of Northern Greece ...
 
Xinomavro grapes

The importance of viticulture in ancient Greek society ensured the spread of the wine industry into Europe and across the English Channel ...


The Greek historian Thucydides (c 460 – c 395BC) quoted that: “the peoples of the Mediterranean began to emerge from barbarism when they learned to cultivate the olive and the vine” ... I’m sure the same thing happened to the Celts and the English ...
 
Terra Cotta relief showing Satyrs
expressing the juice from trodden
grapes in wicker mats
(Ancient Greece: eighth century to
circa six hundred AD)

For most of Rome’s winemaking history, Greek wine was still the most highly prized ... but by the 2nd century BC grand cru vineyards were established, with Pliny the Elder writing extensively about these first growths of Rome.


For those of you who followed my Ice Age posts, just before the A – Z, may remember I mentioned Pompeii ... here the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius had a devastating effect on one of the most important wine centres of Roman viticulture – that of Pompeii and its surrounds.


The Romans took their knowledge with them across the Channel with vines being established up and down England ... as the temperature at that time in history was warm enough to ripen the grapes.
Van Gogh's still life with
apples, pears, lemons and
grapes; (1887)  Art Institute
of Chicago


Rome’s influence on Britain is not so much viticultural as it is cultural – throughout modern history the British have played a key role through trade in shaping the world of wine.


Evidence of Vitus Vinifera vines (Xinomavro) being grown in the British Isles is known ... and may well have been grown here during another warm period, the Hoxnian Stage, about 440,000 years ago ...


That is X for Xinomavro grape from Aspects of British Cookery

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

40 comments:

Rhonda said...

Never heard of this grape, but I am not a red wine fan. Interesting about Rome and Greece and wine making.

Rhonda @Laugh Quotes

J.L. Murphey said...

The Greeks and Romans loved their wines! As do us regular folks.

Lynn said...

That's a grape I've never heard of either. Love wine though. :) Thank you for the Xcellent post!

Ida Chiavaro said...

Hi Hilary, fascinating X you chose. I was really surprised to see grape vines in Santorini growing on the ground instead of the usual trained on trellis varieties I have seen elsewhere. I must admit the nicest one I tried was a homemade brew from an old man, unlike in France where even the house wines are delicious.

Tina said...

I've been wondering what you were going to do with X...but of course you come up with something brilliant, on one of my favorite topics: WINE. Fascinating history. I didn't know wine grapes could grow in the UK - so I'm glad you mentioned the time periods. As always Hilary, your posts are amazing educating and just so much fun.

Tina @ Life is Good
Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
@TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

Laura Eno said...

Wow, I've never heard of that grape...an X grape...who knew? Well, Hilary did! :)
I wasn't aware that Greek wines were so prized, either. I don't know much of anything at all about wines but it's mostly French and Italian I hear about.

Jo said...

Nope didn't know about that grape although I have drunk wine in Greece on occasion. Mavro Daphne is one we used to have a lot, Mavro being black.

I recently saw a programme in which they talked to a wine grower who was producing champagne type wines in the Sussex Downs. Apparently the conditions are very similar to the Champagne region of France.

JO ON FOOD, MY TRAVELS AND A SCENT OF CHOCOLATE

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I had thought the "X" would be the most difficult part of the A-Z challenge but you nailed it!!

Theresa Milstein said...

Olive oil and wine are two essential ingredients at my house.

Robyn Campbell said...

I love all vino Hil. I HAVE to have it here at the farm. Which reminds me. I gotta go and get some. ;-) I never heard of this grape though. You ALWAYS teach me stuff. I owe you a long email. I'll do it today. I have MISSED you in a HUGE way! XOXOXOXO

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The Greeks did something right!

Jo said...

Alex, if you'd ever been there, you would know they did a lot of things right. Particularly their siting of temples and important buildings - what views.

JO ON FOOD, MY TRAVELS AND A SCENT OF CHOCOLATE

Sue McPeak said...

As they say...When in Rome..yadayada...if not there why not in England. For that matter why not anywhere grapes will grow. Have not heard of this variety of grape, but am always up for new info on Vino. Interesting Greek and Roman history. Thanks for all the great info you have posted during this challenge.

My Letter'X'...TeXas Our TeXas Quilt
Sue CollectInTeXasGal
AtoZ LoneStar Quilting Bee

Amanda Trought said...

It is interesting to know that at one point we could have grown wine and the weather much warmer - could do with some of that at the moment, showers and fleeting sunshine today:)

Inger said...

I really admire you for the interesting things you come up with for your posts. You always learn something when you visit here.

Jen Forbes said...

I've never heard of that particular grape but interestingly enough I have made wine before with my Italian neighbor.(when i lived in NY) We did it in his wine and I can tell you making it was fun, drinking it more fun!

Julie Flanders said...

What an interesting X word. As always, I love reading the history in the post.

Happy weekend! :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Oh, I love a good red wine!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Grapes are my number one fruit, next to wine. Seriously, Carol, at any given time you will always find grapes and wine in my house. I guess that makes me a wine-grape connoisseur.

L.G. Smith said...

"the peoples of the Mediterranean began to emerge from barbarism when they learned to cultivate the olive and the vine”

Cheers to that! I do love a good merlot. :)

Clarissa Draper said...

I'm not a wine drinker but my husband is and he would love to know the history of wine making.

klahanie said...

Hi Hilary,

If I drank, I think that sort of grape would be perfect. No sour grapes for this guy.

Hope you have a sunny Sunday.

Gary

Trisha F said...

Hey, I just had some fermented red grape juice last night :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

I have great appreciation for good grapes and good wines...but I've been a total failure at making my own. I'll try again someday.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Rhonda – it always interests me thinking about how far our trade and knowledge have developed from Greek and Roman times ..

@ JL – well I totally concur with you about some wine

@ Lynn – I hadn’t heard of the early grape variety either, but I’m happy to use any X – glad you enjoyed the post.

@ Ida – I guess they were using natural plantings, which I’m sure is the way grapes were grown originally. I hope your friend’s methodology and recipe have been recorded for the future – how lovely to have had that tasting ... lucky you!

@ Tina – I have to pat myself on the back for the X post and I’ll join you for a glass of vino in celebration of that great drink. Yes we’ve had wine here since the Roman times, in our mini ice ages the vines didn’t survive – yet now we’re in a balmy time and the fields are being populated with vineyards ... I like putting time frames in – helps me remember various points along the way – delighted you enjoyed the read.

@ Laura – it was luck with the X grape ... the ancient Greeks got us all drinking wine ... and now they have a thriving market ... as do many other countries, apart from the traditional French and Italian wines ... there are many varieties now. I’m just glad I found my X grape!

@ Jo – I’ve really no idea re grape drinking, but I enjoy local wines when I’m in a country ... and yes we are growing grapes here and have done in recent times ... the chalk is ‘the same’ as in France .. it just goes under the Channel ... same geology.

@ Keith – I was delighted to find my X grape .. not quite British perhaps but who worries!

@ Theresa – I couldn’t agree more – so ‘critical’ to many dishes, let alone the slurp afterwards or during preparation!

@ Robyn – I think most of us do ... a glass to unwind with .. especially after a hard day on the farm. Delighted to see you here ... and I look forward to the news – I know life has been tough recently ... and think of you.

Cheers to everyone .. we’ve cracked the X for 2013! to part two of my reply ... Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Alex – for many of us we are grateful to the Greeks for our glass of vino!

@ Sue – it was great being able to find an X grape .. which I could incorporate into the trading of wine that was so important to Medieval England ... Appreciate you enjoying my take on the A – Z ...

@ Amanda – we’ve vineyards down here, and a new one was planted up maybe 18 months ago very near to Eastbourne ... how it will cope with the recent weather I don’t know ... we had hail yesterday, as I’m sure many other parts of England did .. and frost last night!

@ Inger – thanks so much .. I enjoy looking around for things that will interest us all and that we can remember snippets from various posts ...

@ Jen – it was luck to find the Xinomavro grape. Making wine with your Italian neighbour in New York must have been fascinating fun ... while being able to sample it too must have added to the pleasure.

@ Julie – thanks so much, I enjoyed writing about it!

@ Diane – a good glass of vino at the end of the day just gives added pleasure to the hard day’s work ...

@ Joylene – a glass of wine and an unwind overlooking your lake with the sun beaming in – must be blissful ... I don’t often have grapes, but love them when I decide to buy some ...

@ Luanne - it’s an interesting thought what turns peoples from being uncouth into having a degree of sophistication .. I guess food and drink do ... and I’ll join you in a glass of merlot – if you could wait the day out please!

@ Clarissa – I imagine there’s a great deal of ‘nose’ knowledge to becoming a connoisseur – I hope your husband gets his chance to take a course sometime ...

@ Gary – good thought, no sour grapes. The grapes would be delicious to taste I expect ... we just don’t need to tread them! It is a sunny start to our Sunday – looks like we might have the best of the weather .. but we had a heavy frost.

@ Trisha – fermented grape juice sounds just right for the end of the day! Also you obviously enjoyed it!!

@ Patricia – I wish my palate and nose were better suited to being discerning .. I just love good food and wine!! My mother used to make wine ... but it was of the hedgerow sort ... I can’t say they were the nicest drinks I’ve had .. but she enjoyed the process: bottles bubbling everywhere!

Cheers to you all and I’ll join you for a glass of Xinomavro later on today ... thanks so much for all your comments - cheers Hilary

Rosalind Adam said...

Fancy our country being instrumental in the spread of wine. I don't drink wine so I don't know my grapes from my damsons!

Nick Wilford said...

I think we're due for another warm spell in the UK! Pretty mindblowing to think of vines being grown 440,000 years ago.

Francene Stanley said...

When I first arrived in cold England from Australia, I couldn't envisage grapes thriving here.

Bish Denham said...

Agriculture naturally leads to people staying in one place...which leads to civilization. First came beer, then came wine. Mead is in there somewhere too. Humans, it seems, have looked for a ways to relax after a day at the rat race for a long time. :)

Sue H said...

Red wine.....mmmmmmmm!

I've been enjoying these culinary insights, Hilary! :-)

Only two more letters to go - I'm wondering what Y and Z hold in store...?

Cheers!

Munir said...

Thank you for the information. Grapes are now for the general public too unlike olden days only the rich enjoyed them.

scarlett clay said...

I don't know much about wine but one could spend a lifetime learning about it all, couldn't they? All the names and methods,etc...it's a world of it's own. I do love grapes...are these tasty right off the vine I wonder? We don't have much variety at our local grocers, would love to try new varieties sometime!

Julia Hones said...

Good choice, Hilary! I love those grapes. And the wine must be great too.

Inger said...

thank you so much for all your comments on my posts. I know it must be difficult since your mum passed away not so long ago. But you were such a wonderful daughter to her, she was truly blessed.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Ros .. it was more the trade - the trade of whichever commodity was valuable enough to spread .. but damsons are very good too - and they're free!

@ Nick - well I hope we get some warm spring days and nights .. rather than this hard frost! But yes I think the hotter weather is on its way to replicate the Hoxnian era once again - there's lots of vineyards down here.

@ Francene - the shock of emigration from Australia to here, must have been really quite challenging .. and thinking about vineyards a few decades ago would have been unthinkable.

@ Bish - fermentation creeps in along the culinary route .. I'm rather glad they found wine! A good glass of wine, or a deliciously cool beer at the end of the day sounds very good - as does a coffee now at the beginning!

@ Sue - a glass of red wine on a cold night is just what the weather man ordered. Thanks so much re the posts .. I've enjoyed them too ..
Y and Z - are slightly along similar lines.

@ Munir - I expect vines grew wild, so the public would have been able to have some .. but certainly once cultivation crept in - those that could buy would have had the choicer bunches.

@ Scarlett - I know very little about wine and we could spend a whole life-time learning as you suggest.

Straight off the vine would make the best eating grapes ... as like most produce straight from the farm. I hope your Grocer can get some different varieties in for you to try ...

@ Julia - thankfully there's usually a glass of wine to hand to chill out over.

@ Inger - thanks re my Ma - it's fascinating following your 50 years in America and seeing visits etc .. love it. All's well .. as you say these emotions pop up occasionally .. it's life from all sides, as you know.

Thanks everybody .. so lovely to see you .. Hilary

C. Lee McKenzie said...

I was waiting for your X post. I wondered what on earth you'd find in British Cookery that would start with an X. Wonderful!

Lisa said...

I've been to Pompeii and it was quite something to experience, because that's what it is, not something to see, but to experience. You helped solidify something I wrote in one of my novels about vineyards in Italy! Thank you!

Sara said...

Now, I am impressed with your research skills. I always knew they were excellent, but find an "X" word had to challenging:~)

In addition, this post about Greek wine was interesting. I never knew grapes were grown in Britain or the impact of Mount Vesuvius on the Pompeii grapes. I just love how pull history together in such a fascinating and fun way:~)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lee - so pleased your mother is recovering and will continue to mend. I expect there's other Xs .. but this amused me, with the addition of the history ..

@ Lisa - I would love to go to Pompeii and Herculaneum .. and in the meantime I must get up to the British Museum to see the exhibition they're showing this year.

I look forward to reading your novels - when they come out ..

@ Sara - I think I picked it up when I was researching the Ice Age posts for March .. thankfully X appeared as a grape!

History is amazing isn't it - just so many tie ins that we don't realise .. writing these sorts of posts interests me so much .. and I'm always delighted that everyone enjoys my take on life in general ..

Cheers to you all - it's been fun having everyone here .. Hilary