Did the ancient Greeks and Gauls have a foretaste of cabernet wine 2,000 years ago?
In "Desert Island Wine," wine expert Miles Lambert-Gocs outlines his theory that the balisca wine, which Pliny identified as Greek in the 1st century AD, had a key role in the evolution of grapes in southwest France, including Bordeaux, and is the oldest specifiable source of cabernet.
According to a Wine Appreciation Guild announcement, Pliny wrote that the balisca was already present in Rome's Spanish provinces in his time. "It is likely," says Lambert-Gocs, "that the balisca began crossing over the Pyrenees into southwestern France as early as that, since its quality was already recognized." Pliny paid attention to the balisca and became knowledgeable about it precisely because of its quality, which was also noted by the first-century Roman writer and agriculturist Columella.
By comparing Pliny's information with modern Greek and Albanian descriptions of native grapes, Lambert-Gocs traces the identity of Pliny's balisca and the 'black volitsa' of the northwestern Peloponnese, and the "vlosh" of coastal Albania -- where ancient Greek colonies flourished. Further, key traits of the volitsa (balisca) are seen in Cabernet Sauvignon, as specified and sourced in the addendum report in 'Desert Island Wine,' according to the author.
Lambert-Gocs is a long-time researcher on Greek wine history. His previous books are 'The Wines of Greece' (1990) and 'Greek Salad: A Dionysian Travelogue' (2004).
... we had an earlier post on this; some folks are skeptical of the claim (actually, the post is virtually identical, with the skeptical bit snipped)...