chapter  5
26 Pages

Classifications, appellations and terroir

As early as the time of Tutankhamen wine was marked as ‘good quality’ for the Pharaoh (Johnson, 1989), with some wines even being termed ‘very, very good’ (McGovern, 2003, p. 123) . Such an approach, of guaranteeing the quality of the wine, was just as much in the interests of the producer as the elite consumer; to prove that your wine was better was to increase your return on it. It consequently engendered the view that some sites were better than others for producing wine. Thus, in classical Greece Pramnian was mentioned in the Iliad as making one of the most famous wines (Unwin, 1996). By the late Roman republic a series of sites in Italy were designated as being the best, which effectively created an early system of grands crus. At the same time the fact that wines could be stored for long periods in amphorae – and thus could age slowly – allowed vintage to be used as a means of establishing quality. Wines from the year of the consulship of Opimius (121 BC) were notoriously of high quality even into the first century of the Empire (Unwin, 1996).