Est! Est!! Est!!!

Vino di Montefiascone Est! Est!! Est!!!What kind of wine should you take to your classical philologist friend, to celebrate their moving into the beautiful new flat they had looked for so long and acquired with so many difficulties?

Anno MCXIº p. Chr. n. praesulem Johannem Defuc, Augusti Henrici V comitem, Romam contendisse in historiis legimus. Per longum iter, vini capacissimus ac peritus, Johannis Defuc suavissima vina exquirere in animo habuit. Eo consilio fidissimum ministrum suum Martinum praemisit ut, quodcumque locum ubi primae notae vinum reperisset, in cauponae fronte “EST” conscriberet vel potius “EST! EST!!” ubi praesertim illustrem invenisset. “Montefiascone” cum pervenisset peritus minister sic iucundum vinum invenit ut “EST… EST… EST!!!” merito conscribere statueret.

“We read in the chronicles that in the year of Christ of 1111, Bishop Johannes Defuc [that is, Johannes Fugger] set out to Rome as the legate of His Majesty, Emperor Henry V, and having both large experience and capacity of wine drinking, it was his firm intention to test the best wines along the long way. Therefore he sent ahead his faithful servant Martinus with the instruction that wherever he would find some first class wine, he should write EST (that is, IS) on the front of the inn, or EST! EST!! where he would find something really excellent. [According to the tradition, the first one was written by him in Montepulciano, while the second in Orvieto.] And as the experienced servant arrived to Montefiascone, there he found such a distinguished wine that he could deservedly write: “EST… EST… EST!!!”

Tradition also wants that Johannes Defuc, on his way back from Rome popped in the beloved Montefiascone inn again, where he spent so many days, weeks and months in the company of the sublime drink that finally it was here that he was overtook by death. He was buried in the local church of San Flaviano, where this inscription is written on his tombstone, obviously by the hand of Martinus: “Here lays my lord, as a result of the many Ests.” In his last will he left all his property to the town, on the condition that on the anniversaries of his death a barrel of muscat wine should be emptied at his grave. This is the origin of the six days long pageant of Montefiascone, organized at the beginning of every August in the town.

To this many times hallowed tradition I only want to add the pious wish that may that inevitable last visitor of all of us knock on the door the latest possible, and until then may much good wine be consumed in this flat which already EST!!! and fiat per tempora multa.