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by Fred McMillin
Feast of St. Benedict, March 21
Benedict of Nursia (c.480-547) was the founder of Western monasticism, which saved viticulture during the fall of the Roman Empire and the ensuing Dark Ages.
...Monks and Wine, Desmond Seward
The Sky is Falling
Near the ruins of Nero's palace at Subiaco, the hermit had little cause for optimism. In the decades prior to his birth:
So the first Benedictine monestary was founded in the hill-town of Cassino. The 15 members divided their time between prayer (they sang all 150 psalms each week), study and agriculture, including viticulture. St. Benedict's 12,000 word Rule of the Master limited wine consumption to half a pint a day.
For the next five centuries, the only monks were Benedictines. Desmond Seward tells us why their vineyards survived the Visigoths and their ilk...the well-educated, black-robed monks were feared as miracle-workers and magicians. Usually, the monestaries and their vineyards were left alone.
OK. So today's wine must be made from a varietal that grew in Italy when St. Benedict did, and the winery must have an ecclesiastic connection. The envelope, please.
The varietal is Sangiovese. Early models of the grape were alive and well near Florence in 500 A.D. The winery is Field Stone. Reverand John Staten is co-owner, and Reverend Roger Hull is the spokesman. Here's their wine.
1997 Field Stone Sangiovese
I like the name of a layman who gave St. Benedict "two wooden flasks of wine"—the admirer was "Exhilaratus."
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This page created March 2000