The story behind the name of Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone has been widely repeated for centuries and, though likely apocryphal, has served as tourism draw for the region and giving some notoriety to the wine.
While some variation of the tale exist, the basic legend involves a traveling Catholic bishop on his way to Rome who sends out a servant ahead to find places with the best wine for the bishop to enjoy. Visiting villages throughout Italy, the servant would scrawl Est (Latin for “It is”) on the door of the places he found to have good wine for the bishop’s party to later visit. The legend has it that the servant was so impressed with the wine being served at a Montefiascone inn that he enthusiastically scrawled Est! Est!! Est!!!on the door.
While that is the basic outline of the story, over the centuries several variations have popped up that slightly change some of the details. One of the more detailed retelling can be found in Tom Stevenson’s Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia where he pinpoints the events to late 1110 or early 1111 when a 12th-century German bishop, Johann Fugger, was traveling to Rome for the coronation of Henry V as Holy Roman Emperor.
On his travels, Fugger sent his majordomo ahead of him to taste the local wines and report back which wines were Vinum est bonum. As with other retellings, the majordomo documented his research by writing Est in chalk on the door of the establishments whose wines he enjoyed and, being so impressed with the wines of Montefiascone, punctuated his message with multiple Est! Est!! Est!!!. But Stevenson also reports that the bishop, himself, was also so impressed with the wines that he canceled the rest of his journey and stayed in Montefiascone until his death. Today, there is a tomb in a local church in Montefiascone that claims to be the resting place of Bishop Fugger.