Rose bushes at the end of each row of vines are a common sight in wine areas in both the Old and the New World. Montalcino is no exception, at least on those vineyards that are adjacent to public roads, where rose-bushes are blooming this month; great splashes of colour beautiful to behold.
Aesthetics aside, and do not underestimate the contrast of blowsy nail-polish pink roses and verdant vines, there is actually a reason for the planting of roses in proximity to vineyards. Historically roses play a practical and functional role in viticulture in so far as they act as a miner’s canary. Roses are more sensitive than the vines to powdery mildew (oidium) and so give an early warning of impending disease, which gives us time to intervene in the vineyard and protect the vines.
In Montalcino there is a wonderful rose garden at the Case Basse estate where Graziella Soldera cultivates over 1.500 species of rose including many varieties that are in danger of becoming extinct… it’s quite something in May, I can tell you.