From the Proclamations of Grand Duke Cosimo III to modern times

"In Tuscany wine is not only a commercial product but throughout the centuries has also played a stimulating part in many cultural activities from art and music to gastronomy and literature."

That’s how Giacomo Tachis, in his autobiography, explains the importance of wine in Tuscany.

Its importance was marked in an important historical event 300 years ago in 1716 by the seal on the famous Proclamations of Grand Duke Cosimo III dei Medici. The first one on 18th July, was for the trading of wine and the second on 24th September the declaration of the boundaries of the four regions: Chianti, Pomino, Carmignano and Val d’Arno di Sopra. The proclamations were complementary to each other. In fact only the wine coming from these areas could be sold “abroad”.

 

I bandi del 1716

This was the first step to promoting quality production and an adequate protection against fraud and sophistication. For this very purpose the Congregation was set up, a group which checked that "all wine destined to travel was prepared to do so in a way which would guarantee its quality and avoid fraud”.

These very important declarations were not only fruit of the Grand Duke’s enlightenment and desire but also of a true cultural climate that aimed at making wine worthy of the highest consideration. We can see this in the famous book by Francesco Redi, “Bacchus in Tuscany” published in Florence in 1685, which through elegant literature and erudite philosophical and scientific speculation describes wine as much more than a simple beverage. And, furthermore Redi, like many of his contemporaries, was a pupil of the great Galileo Galilei who dedicated much of his time and attention to wine, something which Tachis himself, several centuries later, clearly beared in mind.

Not only is it right to celebrate the anniversary of those proclamations 300 years later but it is also something we can do with patriotic pride; especially when we consider that the Hungarians rightly claim that the classification of their most suitable terrain for viticulture came long before the famous classification of the cru from Medoc and Sauternes-Barsac. The latter, in fact, took place in 1855 while that of the Tokaj-Hegyaljia in 1772; both of them after the proclamations of Cosimo III dei Medici.

So we can rightly state that the first regulations for the quality of wine came about in Italy, in Tuscany to be more precise; a heritage that we should still try to honour.

 

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