Favored Vintages

Introduction

"And wines of the Opimian year still survive, having kept for 200 years, though they have now been reduced to the consistency of honey and with a rough flavor...." (Pliny, Natural History XIV.53)

In 121 B.C., when growing conditions on the Italian peninsula apparently were near-ideal, Roman farmers produced their first top-notch vintage: wines that all were identified as Opimian, since that was the year of the consulship of Lucius Opimius. Thereafter, the reputation of some Italian vineyards rose steadily. Yet, for decades more, wealthier Romans still went to great expense to import certain Greek wines, such as Pramnian from around Smyrna, in Asia Minor, and Maronean from the eastern coastline of the Aegean Sea, both of which were mentioned in Homer's The Odyssey.