Est! Est!! Est!!!

February 17, 2011 / Food & Wine
Montefiascone, Lazio

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.

Evanne Brandon-Diner

by Evanne Brandon-Diner

Chronicler of local village life in Northern Lazio, and property restoration and purchasing consultant. www.lavventuraitalia.com

15 Responses to “Est! Est!! Est!!!”

  1. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    A wonderful story and beautifully told. That must be some wine!

    Reply
  2. Gale in CT

    Thanks for this note…we buy a white wine in Connecticut that is called “Est Est Est” and we like it very much…I especially like to cook with it. Too bad Bishop Fugger no longer receives his annual annointment…what a wonderful festival could accompany this ritual!

    Reply
  3. Thank you Evanne for the beautiful and most interesting story.We live on Long Island and we must search for this wine.
    Thank you again. Please continue to bring us many more stories.
    Ciao,
    Claudia

    Reply
  4. Louis Emond

    In all of my trips to the area, I searched in vain for this cantina. I could never find it. I began to think that it was a myth and that this delicious wine was made by elves somewhere in the woods. My faith is now restored.

    Reply
  5. carol dunn

    Amusing. very possibly true. And the Bishop’s mission seems to have been more toward wine than religion.

    Reply
  6. Gian Banchero

    Shame on you Bishop Barbarigo for discontinuing the yearly “anointing” of Bishop Fugger’s tomb, one of the joys of the Italian Church (as has been noted by many) is that we’ve never completely shaken off our ancient Pagan past which allows for such a colorful experiences. Imagine if the bishop of Trapani (Sicilia) was to call off the Holy Week outdoor processions, “logical,” but oh so dull. Maybe upon visiting Fugger’s tomb on the anniversary of his death we can secretly pour at least a thimbleful of Est Est Est over his resting place?

    Reply
  7. Evanne

    The cantina is located on the road from Viterbo to Montefiascone on the left, but many places in Viterbo also stock the wine. It is quite inexpensive. If you do stop for the wine, continue on to the church, San Flaviano, for it is a marvel, and one you won’t forget. It’s usually open during the day.

    Reply
  8. Phyllis Iervello

    I have bought Est! Est! Est! several times at a wine shop near where I live. It must be the same wine, because there is an abbreviated story of it on the back label which is the same as this story. The wine itself has a very different taste than other white wines. It was very enjoyable reading a more in-depth explanation of the name. Thank you!

    Reply
  9. Ron Golde

    Just returned last night from a 17 day stay in Italy. I had the pleasure of consuming some of this great wine. I also managed to bring back a few bottles. Thanks for the great article!

    Reply
  10. Peter B.

    the wine is nice. Not as deep as the story however. EST! is a good summer wine at lunch time with pizza or pasta. There are far better white wines in Italy but without such a compelling story. :)))

    Reply

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