Italy’s history is drenched with vinous kings and prime ministers. Here are some of the fun and historical stories cellared away deep inside three of Italy’s most storied wineries, including the country’s oldest winery and an estate linked to Italy’s first king.
Located in the prime real estate of Piedmont’s serra de lunga, Mirafiore might be known for its age-worthy Barolos today, but its root is blue-blooded and linked to none other than Italy’s first king, Vittorio Emanuele II (1820-1878).
It was in the estate which was originally the king’s hunting lodge that fourteen-year-old Rosa Vercellana, a farmer’s daughter, met then Crown Prince Victor Emmanuel. The two later gave birth to Emanuele Alberto Guerrieri di Mirafiori, the son of King Vittorio Emanuele II, or Count of Mirafiore.
The king bequeathed the Fontanafredda estate to his son and in 1878 Casa di E. Mirafioreit was founded. Its royal affinity gave Barolo its nickname, “The King of Wines, the Wine of Kings.”
The King bequeathed the property to Emanuele upon his death and it was the son who would ultimately grow its fame and global reach making him a Barolo pioneer and one of the first Italian winemakers to ship its wines abroad.
However at the early turn of 20th century, with a combination of economic depression, and phylloxera, a severe vine disease, the winery under Emanuele Alberto’s son, Gastone, went into bankruptcy.
In 2008 Mirafiore returned to its old glory under new ownership of Oscar Farinetti. Mirafiore’s current production philosophy is the historical expression of the brand, where innovation co-exists with time-honored tradition.
Till today, the first-ever concrete barrels in Europe, and large Slavonian botti used for ageing are still in use at its cellar.
Scroll through the pages to read Italy’s Iron Baron’s estate and the wine that was served at Italian unification dinner and to a Russian Czar.