Friday, October 15, 2010

Wines of Lazio: Cesanese del Piglio

Wines of Lazio:  Cesanese del Piglio
Casale Della Ioria
Cesanese del Piglio
Tenute della Ioria
     It would be nearly impossible to have any sort of discussion on the wines of Lazio without discussing Cesanese del Piglio, Lazio’s first wine to acquire the D.O.C.G appellation.  We frequently take day trips to the region of Frosinone, which is south of Rome, we go for the fabulously underrated food and wine that we find in the many nearly abandoned towns in the mountains.  Piglio is a town in the ernico Apennines which is built on the foundations of a pre-roman town.  Piglio is near the medieval papal town of Anagni, and a day drip to a winery and a cultural visit to Anagni and lunch at Piglio make for the perfect day trip from Rome.  I  have already written about it HERE.  Piglio is now home to Lazio’s first DOCG wine(in 2008), a heartwarming red wine made from the Cesanese grape. 

     One of my favorite producers is Casale Della Ioria owned by the Perinelli family.  They make two Cesanese del Piglio, both from the Cesanese di Affile grape.  I am quite fond of the 2007 Tenuta della Ioria.  When we tasted it, when were in the amazing medieval town of Alatri which I think has Lazio’s best olive oil.  It is an intense ruby red wine, with gorgeous legs and great consistency.  It is suggestive of cherries under alcohol, blackberry jam, fennel, tobacco, earth tones, mushrooms, and sweet red peppers.  After w few minutes the dried red roses start rolling over everything, evocative of a very sensual perfume commercial from the 90’s.  It had balsamic notes.  In a nutshell,  a very complex and intense nose, but still developing.   Towards the end of our evaluation we started to smell coffee, but then we realized the waiter was making espresso!  This wine is dry, full bodied, with nice freshness.  I thoroughly enjoyed its rich but well balanced tannins that were harmonious with the weight and silky structure with slightly bitter finish.  It has a long finish that kept reminding me of fruits and dark earthy minerals.   I think this Cesanese has a great potential to age and soften but to remain complex.   A great wine in the winter to serve with complex and bitter foods, or roasted veggies with rosemary.

Wines of Lazio: Frascati Superiore

Wines of Lazio: Frascati Superiore
Casale Mattia
Frascati Superiore
Terre del Casale
     Frascati is the white wine most often consumed by the Romans, and most of its production makes its way down the hills of the Castelli Romani to be consumed in the trattoria and osteria of Rome.  Typically in Lazio winemakers make wines for quantity over quality, so there are many mediocre Frascati bottles out there, but there is hope.  There are a number of producers that are making great Frascati wines that evoke both the fertility of the land and the aromas of the grapes used.  Frascati does not need to be a boring and tasteless wine at all.  Casale Mattia is making great wines from organic grapes and a combination of modern and traditional winemaking.  They use all natural methods in their wine making process including natural yeasts instead of GMO yeasts.  

     I tasted a 2008 Casale Mattia Frascati Superiore called “Terre Del Casale.”  I quite enjoyed it, thug I feel that most Frascati are best when consumed in their first year.  Visually, I could tell it had a bit if age(for a Frascati), as it was darkening.  It was a very crystalline hay yellow with moderate consistency with average arches.  The hay color had a bit of golden hue in it as well.  It had very intense aromas that were clean and crisp which were suggestive of citrus such as grapefruit, lemons, and limoncello.  Underneath all that was the aroma I most associate with a Frascati, apricot.  It also had undertones of citrus flowers, fresh cut grass, shell like minerals, and fragrant bread.  On the palate it was medium bodied, dry to off dry, very fresh, silky, and with a long mineral finish which came directly from the volcanic soil the vines are planted in.  I enjoyed every sip, and think it is a perfect white wine for the spring and summer, but even in the cooler months when we start to make soups.  The aromatic qualities would pair perfectly with a warm minestrone or vegetable risotto.