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Issue # Four - Sept. 2013

Stone press establishes earliest date of winemaking in France

An article in Wine Spectator relates new research about a stone pressing platform from Lattes, a town south of Montpellier once known as Lattara. The press has been dated to circa 425 BCE and was first “identified by archaeologists as an olive-oil press.” Chemical analysis conducted by Patrick McGovern of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory of the University of Pennsylvania has recently found “wine-specific compounds in the limestone of the press” [tartaric acid/tartrate] which match those in nearby clay jars or amphoras. Grape seeds were also discovered buried alongside the press. The stone press is similar to those pictured in Etruscan artwork. On the website of the University, Penn Museum, McGovern explains “we know that the ancient Etruscans lured the Gauls into the Mediterranean wine culture by importing wine into southern France.” He theorizes that the Gauls set up their own production to meet demand, probably “by transplanting the domesticated vine from Italy” and seeking expert guidance from the Etruscans.


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