November 30, 2005

Mastroberardino 2002 Pompeiano Rosso

(Imported by Wilson-Daniels, St. Helena, CA; about $225)
What to get your friend with the 1,000-case cellar? Or the gal who drinks only the most obscure wines? A wine that no one else has - or nearly no one, at any rate - and that has a story that's incomparable to any other bottle in their cellar.

How about a wine from the ancient city of Pompeii, which was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79?

Villa dei Misteri isn't actually that old, but its pedigree is: Working with an archaeological crew, the Mastroberardino winery replanted the excavated vineyards of Pompeii with ancient red-wine varieties Piedirosso and Sciascinoso, exactly as they had been before the volcano blew, down to the chestnut stakes used to hold up the vines.

The first vintage - just 1,721 bottles - was produced in 2001 and sold only at auction in Italy. A few cases of the 2002 vintage, however, arrived in the U.S. in September for retail sale. The price is high, but Villa dei Misteri isn't just wine: It's a piece of history.

This article originally appeared in the Denver Post.

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