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‘Leonardo da Vinci wine’ re-created in central Milan

An Italian winery has produced the first wines from a vineyard in central Milan that has historical links to Leonardo da Vinci, and bottles are set to be auctioned.

Around 330 bottles of the ‘Leonardo da Vinci wine’ have been made from the 2018 harvest, Giovannella Fugazza, co-owner of Castello di Luzzano winery, told Decanter.com this week.

Castello di Luzzano winery has produced the wines from a specific clone of Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, planted in 2015 in the same spot in Milan where it is believed Leonardo da Vinci once owned vines of the same grape variety.

The wine, which spent time in a large terracotta amphora before being bottled in spring 2019, has been produced in partnership with La Vigna di Leonardo, the organisation which now runs a museum at the vineyard site.

Some bottles of the 2018 vintage were set to be auctioned in December this year, although precise details of the sale were not immediately available.

Castello di Luzzano was chosen as the wine producer because it has worked with Malvasia di Candia for centuries, said Fugazza,

The creation of the wines marks the latest chapter in a long-running project involving wine experts, grape scientists and other interested parties.

Leonardo, painter of the Mona Lisa and renowned for works on engineering and science, was also a keen wine lover.

He is understood to have been gifted the vineyard in 1499 by Lodovico Il Moro, also known as Lodovico Sforza, in return for Da Vinci’s painting of The Last Supper.

It took a team of researchers and wine experts 11 years to locate and re-establish Leonardo da Vinci’s vineyard in Milan, which survived for 450 years until it was destroyed by Allied bombing in 1943.

Luca Maroni, an Italian wine expert, played a leading role in the subsequent mission to excavate the site to discover if any vine roots survived.

He has recently published a book on ‘Leonardo da Vinci and wine’.

In an extract sent to Decanter.com, Maroni describes the painstaking mission to identify the vine remains discovered during the excavation and then the search for a surviving clone that was as close to the original as possible.

After identifying Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, Maroni and researchers searched for the right clone in the Piacenza area, south-east of Milan.

‘We were very lucky,’ said geneticist Serena Imazio, of the University of Modena, after the president of the Colli Piacentini DOC zone presented her with a clone that met the team’s requirements.

Professor Attilio Scienza, a grapevine geneticist from the University of Milan, led the search and podiatrist Rodolfo Minelli also worked on the project.

They were helped by the Castellini family, which owns the House of Atellani at the site of the original vineyard at Corso Magenta 65 on the western edge of the city centre.

Tourists can visit the restored ‘Leonardo da Vinci vineyard’.

Original story

Published 11 March 2015

Italian researchers have re-planted a vineyard in central Milan that was believed to once belong to Leonardo da Vinci, and they plan to open it to the public.

A team including leading Italian wine critic and oenologist Luca Maroni has spent several years identifying vine roots unearthed at the site in central Milan, in the ground of the Casa degli Atellani near to the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

According to agricultural group Confagricoltura, Leonardo da Vinci was given the vineyard in 1499 as a gift from Lodovico Il Moro, also known as Lodovico Sforza, in return for Da Vinci’s painting of The Last Supper.

Although Leonardo died just 20 years later, the vineyard itself survived until for nearly another 450 years. It was destroyed in 1943 by Allied bombing during World War Two.

Confagricoltura said the vineyard and garden would be re-opened to the public from May, to coincide with Milan hosting the international cultural exhibition Expo 2015.

It thanked the Vine Portaluppi Foundation, the current property owners and also an academic team at the University of Milan, led by vine DNA expert Attilio Scienza, for bringing the project to life.

The Telegraph newspaper reported that the vines planted will produce Malvasia di Candia grapes, a variety that is believed to have originated in Crete and was brought to modern-day Italy by the Venetians.


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