Casavecchia: myth and legend of wine of the ancient Romans

by Yuri Buono

We are located in a small hamlet of a municipality in the Upper Casertano that produces the Old house, one of the wines with the most fascinating history. Precisely we are a Pontelatone, indeed, more precisely, a Treglia, what was once called Trebula Balliensis.

Here, from the twelfth century BC, the Osci first settled here, then the Sanniti Caudini and, finally, the Romans.

But what does all this have to do with our Casavecchia? You must know that Pliny the Elder in the 14th book of the Naturalis Historia speaks of the vine and wine highlighting not only the large number of varieties present around the "boot", but also how the soil affects the yield of a vine.

He also mentions one from the area of Trebula and many have linked this quote with the most famous wine preferred by Roman soldiers: the Trebulanum.

An ancient legacy

Yet, traces of this wine so important have been lost, until someone thought of linking the discovery of a new (old) vine - which took place in the last century in that area - ampelographically never selected before, precisely to the ancient Trebulanum. It seems, in fact, that this vine was found right near an old farm called "Ciesi", falling in the area of Pontelatone, along the ancient Via Latina that connected Capua to Alife. It was for this reason that the locals began to define it in dialect "The grapes' and the old house" and over time it became the most famous Old house.
We are in the first half of the last century and Sirocco Prisco, this was the name of the farmer who found the Casavecchia vine, began to reproduce it with the ancient method of offshoot, already described in ancient times by Columella, which involves burying a branch until it develops its own roots.

Vino Casavecchia Pontelatone Alois
Il Casavecchia - Photo courtesy of theAlois di Pontelatone winery

Where to find the Casavecchia

Today Casavecchia is one of the Campania DOCs and is produced in the municipalities of Free and Formicola and in some areas of the municipalities of Castel di Sasso, Pontelatone, Piana di Monte Verna, Caiazzo, Castel Campagnano and Ruviano. The bunch is sparse and this defends it from the possibility of creating unwanted molds, while the glass is colored with a beautiful intense ruby with purple hints, due to a notable presence of anthocyanins, estimated to be almost double those of Aglianico (which are already quite a few).
For the "Rosso" type, the refinement must last for two years - of which at least one in wood - while to be awarded the title of "Riserva" three years must elapse, of which at least 18 months in wood.

We do not know if the Casavecchia is really the ancient one Trebulanum so dear to the Romans, but surely it is an ancient vine which also resisted phylloxera, morphologically different from all the others hitherto found, studied and selected and which in the nineteenth century was not yet known, since it had not been included in the Vigna del Ventaglio commissioned by Ferdinand IV of Bourbon.

"The grapes of old house" it is, with good reason, a rediscovered myth; is a legend handed down ...

Yuri Buono
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