Dinner is served: you’re dining al fresco on the terrazza of a centuries-old villa. Panoramic views of the gentle rolling hills, golden from the setting sun give way to a brilliant blue inland ake. You’re enjoying traditional Roman cuisine, cacio e pepe made with the freshest bucatini and local Pecorino Romano cheese. You grab the bottle of wine and pour some in your glass. With each bite, the crisp white wine cleanses your palate, leaving it refreshed and ready for the next taste. You can smell the tart green apple, zesty citrus and white flower aromas. Piercing acidity cuts through the fatty, slightly salty cheese. Subtle hints of toasted almond come out in the finish. You grab the bottle for more wine, this time admiring its label – Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone DOC. “WTF?” you say to yourself. Did I have too much wine? Am I seeing triple? Did I develop a stutter?
T’S LEGIT. Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone is actually a legit Italian DOC located in the larger region of Lazio, just north of Rome. It surrounds Lake Bolsena, an inland crater lake
with well-drained, ancient volcanic soils. The star grapes here are Trebbiano and Malvasia, which are used to create primarily dry white wines perfect for pairing with local Roman fare.
Sounds great! Wellllll…according to wine writers Joseph Bastianich and David Lynch in their book Vino Italiano, “Est! Est!! Est!!! is one of those wines – like Vernaccia di San Gimignano in Tuscany – whose history is more compelling than what’s currently in the glass.” Whoa. Bold statement. Let’s explore more.
ALE AS OLD AS TIME. In the 12th Century, a German bishop, who today is believed to be Johann Fugger, was traveling from Germany to the Vatican to visit the pope. Like a fine, German-
engineered car, the pious Herr Fugger made this journey damn efficient and told his wine scouts/servants, “Go ahead of me, check out the villages and find me the best wines.” If you’re thinking, “Wow, must be nice,” don’t fret. Bright Cellars actually operates the same way and picks out the best wines for you too.
Herr Fugger wanted to make sure he’d be able to find the delicious wines his scouts found for him. Since he couldn’t really just shoot them a quick text back in the day, he instructed, “When you find that quaffable vino you know I’ll love, be sure to write, ‘Est!’ on the winery door, so I know where to stop. K thanks, bye.” (BTW, “Est” is Latin for “It is.” As in, “It is damn good wine.”)
OLTO BENE. Ah, the Montefiascone Inn. Apparently the wines were SO “molto bene” at the inn that the bishop’s boys couldn’t get enough. Just one “Est!” wasn’t going to cut it. “Est! Est!! Est!!!”
they wrote on the door in exclamation. “It is! It is!! It is!!!”
IL DEATH DO US PART. Bishop Fugger liked the wines just as much as the wine scouts thought he would. Word on the street is that once Herr Fugger stopped at the inn, he completely forgot about his journey to the Vatican
(Ooops! Forgive me father for I have sinned). He stayed in Montefiascone drinking copious amounts of local white wine until his death.
MODERN CRITICISM. In a hilarious twist, modern wine experts have criticized the wine for being, like, not so ‘bene’ after all. Ironic, don’t you think? In the World Atlas of Wine, wine writers Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson agree. They say that Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone is “usually the dullest white wine with the strangest name in the world.” And we all know what authors Joseph and David think of the wine (refer back their oh-so-kind quote above).
Although the name and history is more memorable than the wine’s flavor, wine drinkers, especially millennials, LOVE a good story. As American writer, John Gardner once said, great literature has only two plots: “1. A person goes on a journey. 2. A stranger comes to town.” The compelling story of Bishop Fugger’s journey may be the most influential piece of literature of our time.
Ok, well not quite.
But, perhaps all Est! Est!! Est!!! needs is a little marketing push to become the next great up-and-coming wine region. Let’s get a campaign going – The Most Interesting Man in the World feat. Bishop Fugger.