Etruscans, one of Italy’s earliest known organized societies and the forerunners of Italian civilization. The core of their territory in Italy was between the Arno and Tiber rivers and the Tyrrhenian Sea (Burton Anderson: 1990, p.190), ‘from where they moved across the Apennines and south to rival the Greek colonists in Campania. The Romans, who subdued and absorbed them, honoured them in names. Tuscany came from Tuscia, Latin for Etruria. Tyrrhenian signifies the Etruscan sea.’ See the Etruscan Coast or Costa degli Etruschi. See Murlo for modern day Etruscans.

Female equality: ‘Unlike their counterparts in ancient Greek and Roman culture, Etruscan women were equal in status to men,’ (Nesto & Di Savino: 2016, p.194).

Winegrowing: Burton Anderson (1990, p.190), says the Etruscans ‘left their mark in a type of viticulture that favoured abundance…[draping vines] over stunted willows and poplars surrounding planted fields. Big yields are impractical on steep, stony slopes, which…in much of Umbria and Tuscany’s central hills can also be cool and damp. Where abundance was possible, mainly in the fertile and rather flat country south of Rome, it had long been envied.’ The flourishing wine trade which the Etruscans built ‘the Romans, who preferred heavier stuff from the south, let slide before generations of invaders obliterated the cult of Bacchus. Monks reawakened viticulture in the wooded hills, as wine became a part of everyday life in the medieval towns and burgeoning cities of Florence, Siena, Pisa, Lucca and Arezzo. The spread of the Renaissance from Florence through Europe radiated Tuscan wines. Exports of “Florence Red” and “Vermiglio” [See Nesto & Savino, 2016, p.22] were complemented by sweet wines including the prized Vin Santo. Francesco Redi’s dithyrambic ode Bacchus in Tuscany (1685) flattered them all [as did] fellow poet Fulvio Testi,’ whose tribute to Etruscan Chianti described a wine that ‘kisses you and bites you and makes you shed sweet tears.’

Bibliography

Bill Nesto MW & Frances Di Savino, Chianti Classico, the Search for Tuscany’s Noblest Wine, (University of California Press, 2016).

Burton Anderson, The Wine Atlas of Italy (Mitchell Beazley, London, 1990).

David Gleave, The Wines of Italy (Salamander Books, London, 1989).

Dr Ian D’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy (University of California Press, 2014), p42-3 (abridged). 

Nicolas Belfrage MW, Life Beyond Lambrusco (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1985)

Nicolas Belfrage MW, From Barolo to Valpolicella—The Wines of Northern Italy (Faber & Faber, 1999).

Nicolas Belfrage MW, From Brunello to Zibibbo–The Wines of Tuscany, Central and Southern Italy (2nd edition, London, 2003).

Oxford Companion to Wine 4th edition ed. Jancis Robinson MW and Julia Harding MW (Oxford University Press, 2015).