The Climate Change Grape
By Gina Trippi
Zibibbo is more than 5,000 years old and dates back to Ancient Egypt. Archeological evidence of winemaking is supported by the illustrations found in the Tomb of Nakht at Thebes. In what many viticulturalists call a viticultural miracle, the grape has not changed much genetically over the course of the 5000 years that it’s been cultivated.
Contributing to its longevity, Zibibbo is versatile and has been over the centuries used as a table grape, a wine grape and a raisin. But it is the very essence of the grape that makes it a survivor. The grape has proved it can endure and flourish in a drought and extreme heat and humidity. As we come face to face with warmer climatic conditions, Zibibbo is not only the past, but the future!
Until fairly recently, Zibibbo was considered a myth by the modern world. According to legend, Tanit, a goddess of Carthage, wanted to attract Apollo, one the most admired and respected gods. Following the advice of Venus, the Goddess of Love, Tanit served Apollo a glass of wine made from the vines of Pantelleria, a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean. Zibibbo’s seductive power was so strong that Apollo not only noticed Tanit, but also fell deeply in love with her.
Since ancient times, Zibibbo has been a well-kept secret of the locals in Pantelleria. The wine was not even exported to the Italian mainland until 1880. But today, the secret is out, as Pantelleria has become part of the UNESCO Cultural Heritage of Humanity for traditional viticultural methods still used for vine training. Following this method, Zibibbo is cultivated in holes dug in the ground to protect vines from winds that whip the islands 300 hundred days each year.
Zibibbo is the same grape as Muscat of Alexandria. Settle down! Muscat does not necessarily mean sweet. Zibibbo can be made dry or sweet. Many historians say Muscat is the oldest grape family in the world. As the name suggests, Muscat of Alexandria originated from Alexandria, Egypt. The name, Zibibbo, is derived from the Arabic word zabib for raisins.
Both the Phoenicians and the Greeks brought Zibibbo plantings to Sicily and Pantelleria around 800 B.C. And it was during the Roman Empire that the grape traveled north to Europe. Today, Zibibbo is harvested in South Africa, California, Australia, and South America, with over 200 synonyms registered.
The bottle of Zibibbo at Metro Wines is Gorghi Tondi, 2020. In the glass, the wine is straw yellow with greenish reflections. The nose is intense and highly aromatic with aromas of jasmine, orange blossoms, peaches, apricots, and almonds. Aromas are carried through as flavors on the palate and the wine has a long finish. The grapes are organically grown and aged in steel to preserve the bright aromatics and flavors.
And Gorghi Tondi Zibibbo is low in alcohol at only 11.5%. Could this bottle be more perfect? Enjoy a wine that has been a customer favorite for 5,00 years.