Halfway between Bologna and Ravenna, Italy sits the little town of Bagnacavallo. Those with a background in Spanish, Italian, or Latin will easily pick out the origins of the name which, depending on who you talk to, can be read as “Horse Bath” or “Water for Horses” or something like that.
Indeed, historical legend has it that the town was so named when the Emperor Tiberius discovered a spring in the town that had amazing curative powers for horses who drank it, the first of which being the war horses commanded by the Emperor himself. In all likelihood the spring and the town were founded as early as the Bronze Age and have been continuously occupied since. Today Bagnacavallo and the surrounding area has about 16,000 inhabitants, most of whom work in agriculture, the primary products are apples, pears, apricots, and of course, wine, most of which is made from the Trebbiano grapes that are common to the Emilia Romagna, the DOC in which Bagnacavallo falls.
UVA Longanesi is a little-known red grape variety from Emilia-Romagna, Italy. It is one of several wine grapes to have been rediscovered and revived in the region over the past couple of decades. UVA Longanesi is thought to have been growing in the Ravenna province for centuries, but was not propagated or documented until the early 20th Century. A single “mother vine” was discovered by Antonio Longanesi, after whom the variety is named, near his home in Bagnacavallo, Ravenna. Longanesi took cuttings from the vine (which was growing naturally, wrapped around the trunk of an old oak tree) and, in the 1950s, his son Aldo planted the world’s first UVA Longanesi vineyard.
UVA Longanesi is relatively hardy in the vineyard, resistant to both fungal diseases and frost. Once vinified, it shows off rich in aromas of wild fruit, spices and licorice with a quite high alcohol content. a red fruit like cherry and strawberry, with some vanilla and even licorice overtones. Wines made from UVA Longanesi have plenty of tannins.
Maybe you don’t know that:
This is the fate of Longanesi grapes (Burson) found out by Antonio Longanesi in the Fifties, having seen a vine climbing up an oak tree. This wine has a similar history to Centesimino, and makes us consider the habits of the beginning of last century, when vines where grown all together, and grapes were vinified blended together, so that it was not unusual to ignore the existence of singular vine varieties among the vineyards.
The Consortium “Il Bagnacavallo” has registered the name of the wine obtained from Longanesi grapes as “Burson” and since 1997 it has been protecting Burson’s features with a production regulation. Today Burson is made in two versions: Blue label and Black label.
On December 6, 2000, the variety was officially recognized and added to Italy’s Registro Nazionale delle Varieta di Vite (national register of wine grape varieties). There are now roughly 500 acres (200ha) planted in the Ravenna province, and the varietal UVA Longanesi wines may be made under the Emilia, Rubicone and Ravenna IGT titles.
To those in Bagnacavallo, Uva Longanesi is known as “Burson”. This rather unflattering pseudonym, which means “Big Bore” in the local slang, it was Antonio Longanesi’s nickname.
The wine is dark, inky purple in the glass, with a good pronounced nose, scents of woodsmoke, leather, and cassis. In the mouth it is velvety with lots of tannin underscoring flavors of earth, figs, and dried currants. It has a spectacularly long finish.
Genetic analyses have revealed a unique fingerprinting profile, clustering this varietal away from the entire grapes currently grown in the Emilia-Romagna region. I have not found the actual scientific publication but enologists believe it may be an ancient roman varietal once grown in the nearby woods, known to be used by the roman empire army as a source for timber for their fleet based in Ravenna. Whether this is true or not adds little to the unique character of this wine.