By Lidia RIZZO


Documentary - Completed 2012

A French-Sicilian wine's history:a famous wine, produced from one of the richest men in the nineteenth century, Duke Henri of Aumale, is not produced anymore in the Zucco's Estate in Montelepre, near Palermo, but has left a legacy of astonishing history between Zucco and Chantilly Castle in France.

    • Year of production
    • 2012
    • Genres
    • Documentary
    • Countries
    • ITALY
    • Languages
    • Duration
    • 60 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Lidia RIZZO
    • Writer(s)
    • Lidia RIZZO
    • Producer(s)
    • Alessandro BONIFAZI (Blue Film), Bruno TRIBBIOLI (Blue Film)
    • Synopsis
    • The two wine continents, Sicily and France, in the nineteenth century were linked by a fascinating story that involved one of the richest men in the world at the time: Henri Louis Philippe, Duke D'Aumale, the fifth and second youngest son of Louis-Philippe, duke of Orleans, king of the French, and Marie Amalie of Bourbons Sicily.
      The duke d'Aumale produced “le VIN de Zucco “in Sicily. The land he chooses because of his family ties (his parents married in the Palazzo Orleans in Palermo) but also because it was the “island paradise” of Virgil’s Memories. A land when, during the sad period between the two exiles, in his very learned vision of the world, the duke regained his strength following the precepts of the writer Virgil: working directly the land but also writing “The story of Condè”.
      Le “vin de Zucco”, was produced in 1856, in the “state of the art” winery in western Sicily, on the largest estate of the island, called “Lo Zucco”.
      The Zucco Wine was similar to the wines of Madeira but different from those for its purity and because it was not achieved with the addition of alcohol, but only by an aging at least 5 years before being bottled. In 1897, an agronomists' expedition from the Agriculture's Society of Angers and the Department of Marne and Loire, introduced by a references letter of the writer Bazin, went to Sicily to examine the production of this wine so popular, drawing up a very detailed document that described both the work in the vineyard and the winemaking.
      The Zucco wine, between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, became very famous in the world, appearing in books, magazines, and advertisings and becoming a flag of an exiled man. (After his exile he became a leader for the Orleanist cause of a constitutional monarchy in France).
      The duke of Aumale was a great bibliophile and “mecenate”, patron of the arts, supporting artists and poets of the third Republic. The Royalty and poets, writers frequented the Zucco’s estate, painters like Victor Hugo, Bonnard, Jerome, Vuillier, Bazin, Edith Wharton and visited by many famous chroniclers of the time.
      After his banishment was terminated, the Duke was free to devote himself to the restoration of his beloved estate of Chantilly. Strangely enough though old and sick, we see him once again return to the Zucco (or come to die) in springtime, to recover his strength, drinking the prodigious wine. [...] “J'irai bientôt me réconforter et me rajeunir à la source de ce vin réparateur» . He will die here, far away again from his France...
      The production of this wine, traveling in fashionable circles with its celebrities and the pilgrimage of the “Zucco goers” to the Sicily's Estate, was continued until 1923 by his grandnephew and heir, as well as heir to the throne of France, Louis Philippe Robert. Traveller, explorer, eccentric, young and rich adventurer, but also marked by exile.. He sold the Zucco in 1923 to the Princess of Gangi.
      The income derived from exploitation of the Zucco's farm, an estate of 6000 hectares, gave work and livelihood to about 4000 people, if you think that at the border with Zucco, the country of Montelepre had a population of 7,500 souls spread over an area of 934 ha, we understand how a farm of this nature was a benefit for this country.
      The Princes of Ganci continued the production of wine and muscat Zucco until 1960.
      In 1939 they registered at the Ministry of Agriculture, Trade and Industry, the Brand "Zucco and Rive D'Oro wines” for export as is clear from the “American Import and Export Bulletin”. Their wines were exported in America by Shieffelin&Co. A production that was continued after the great phylloxera epidemic of the early twentieth century and in the midst of the two world wars in the territory of Montelepre but also through the misery of the peasants of this place, and the riots of the bandit Giuliano.
      The Princess Giulia Mantegna of Ganci, loved so much this place and the wine production. After the Princess' death the farm was inherited from her daughter, Stefanina Mantegna, she loved too winemaking and carried on the wine production until the sale of the farm to D.Giglio and G. Chello, two entrepreneurs who were interested only to obtain public funds for citrus plants. They destroyed vineyards and everything related to the wine and olive oil production.
      Nowadays, few people know about this story. The estate of “Zucco” in the province of Palermo still exists. We can see the huge abandoned factory, what remains of the cellars, factory barrels, of oil and wheat warehouses. We can see the Old Winery in Terrasini, restored as Naturalistic Museum from the Regional Government and also Palazzo d' Orleans in Palermo, the residence of the French's King, now and the official site of the Sicilian Region. We can find all the “well conserved” documents about wine production and marketing, in Chantilly's Castle, in France. Many series of drawings about plans of building that reveal the extraordinary avant-garde in the machinery and hydraulics.
      People who worked on the Zucco's farm for three generations are still living: Vito Talluto, who worked with the princess at the farm, planting and pruning vines; Joseph Polizzi, who worked in the cellar. Everybody remember with love the Zucco's Estate like a paradise in hearth.
      The Zucco's property has been seized by the government to the last Company and put up for auction three times, but a small part of the property has been inherited by Pietro Galioto from his father, who had bought a piece of Zucco land that includes the old house of the oenologist. Pietro, an organic farmer, do his daily work in his land, he’s grown up amongst the memorabilia of the Duke D’Aumale and his legend fed by the locals. Pietro wants to produce the Zucco Wine of the Duke in his same ancient way by the methods of the natural agriculture.
      The Istituto Regionale della Vite e del Vino (Regional Institute of the Vine and Wine) has launched a trial with some vineyards in Partinico, replanting the grape of Muscat Zucco in the way of Princess of Gangi and doing the first vinification.
      Today no one knows what will happen to the "Zucco", it is certain that no wine under this name may bring back the memory of such an important story. Pietro is definitely the last link in this chain of memory, who knows if he can revive the wine of the Zucco... But the wine need his memory and the memory is in the now crumbling Zucco’s property… which needs help…