Leonardo da Vinci‘s Vineyard & Malvasia di Candia Aromatica Wines are a side of the genius you may not be aware of.
The genius of Leonardo da Vinci remains unparalleled and his works of art and scientific knowledge are world renowned. One thing you might not know about him is that he also cultivated a small piece of land – about 8000 m² (a little under two acres) – as a vineyard.
In 1498 the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Il Moro, gave this piece of land to da Vinci as a form of payment for The Last Supper painting. In some of his writings Leonardo da Vinci talks about his vineyard but until recently it was unclear exactly where this piece of land was located. But now we know!
The exact location of the vineyard was discovered by the oenologist Luca Maroni. His study of Leonardo da Vinci‘s writings along with other historical documents led him to discover the exact location of the vineyard: the Casa degli Atellani, Corso Magenta 65, Milan. The vineyard remained intact for almost half a millenium, but was destroyed by a fire in 1940. But Luca Marone didn’t stop there. His hope was that some remnants of the vineyard’s vine roots were still on the piece of land. Maroni enlisted the assistance of Attilio Scienza, a vine DNA expert at the University of Milan’s Department of Agricultural and Environmental Science. The two worked together and were able to identify the grape varietal from Leonardo da Vinci‘s vineyard: Malvasia di Candia Aromatica.
The next step was to restore the vineyard to its original splendor. Along with the support of the heirs of the Casa degli Altellani the restoration is now complete. The very first harvest was in 2018 and the prized bottles were auctioned off. Although it’s not simple to purchase wine produced in this vineyard you can visit it. Thirty minute visits to the vineyard and the Casa Atellani take place every day from 9 AM to 6 PM by reservation only.
In the Colli Piacentini Wine region you will find a number of wines produced with the grape. “Malvasia is the most common DOC Colli Piacentini wine. It is produced with the Malvasia di Candia Aromatica grape variety, which originated in Ancient Greece. It is a wine with a straw-yellow colour, a characteristic and intense aroma, a dry or semi-dry or sweet taste; it is well-orchestrated and fresh, still or lively“, according to the website Piace Doc.
The Colli Piacentini (the Piacenza Hills) Wine region is located at the western end of the Emilia-Romagna region and in 1967 it was given DOC designation. This area used to be considered part of the Piedmont Wine region. Many wines are produced in this wine region, both reds and whites and also rosé, and range from very dry to sweet.
If you are interested in purchasing and trying wines from this wine region, and in particular wines made using the Malvasia di Candia Aromatica grape, you might want to take a look at the Vivino website.
Although you can’t easily purchase wines from Leonardo da Vinci’s vineyard you can try other wines from the Malvasia di Candia Aromatica grape. The next best thing would be the Tasto Atellano wine, a wonderful wine very closely tied into Leonardi da Vinci’s vineyard. The Luzzano Castle, where it is produced, was previously owned by the Atellano family.
Here’s another wine from the area that I can suggest. It’s produced by the Azienda Barattieri.
If you’re a fan of Italian wines you might want to check out my post on the Tornesi Brunello winery in Tuscany.
Do you ever have left over red wine? I usually don’t, but when I do I love to make these delicious Red Wine Cookies.