In the year 1110, the German Bishop Johannes Fugger traveled from Augsburg to Rome for the coronation of King Henry V. Bishop Fugger, a wine aficionado, sent his servant Martin ahead to scout the villages on the way for inns that served the best wine. “Mark the word ‘Est!’ on the door of any inn where the wine is good,” the bishop ordered Martin. (“Est” in Latin means “It is”.)
When the Bishop’s entourage arrived at Montefiascone, a small hilltop town overlooking Lake Bolsena, Bishop Fugger saw “Est! Est!! Est!!!” chalked on the door of an inn. It is told that Martin was so impressed with the local wines that he just had to write “It is” not once but three times over on the door.
The legend continues to say that Bishop Fugger stopped for three days in Montefiascone on the way to the Papal palace. He returned on his way home to Germany, and it is said that Fugger remained in Montefiascone for the rest of his life, eventually dying from drinking too much wine.
On his tombstone in the local Benedictine church of San Flaviano, Martin is said to have written, “Herein lies my Master who died from drinking too much Est.” The Est! Est!! Est!!! of Montefiascone is one of the few wines of ancient origin whose date of creation is known.
Upon the death of Fugger, it was discovered that the town had received a bequest from him, with the condition that they remembered to pour a barrel of that wine on his tomb on every anniversary of his death. This practice, flavored with pagan ritual, was discontinued by Cardinal Barbarigo some years ago.