Step outside of Rome and the rest of Lazio greets you. Hills, valleys, varied landscape, and plenty of Roman style food is everywhere. I bet many of you haven’t heard of Lazio, which was the case for me before digging into Italian wine. Today I concentrate on a grape indigenous to this region: Cesanese. Follow the pencil to Lazio and Cesanese!
Grape growing and winemaking in this region go back to the Etruscans (900 BC) possibly further. The Romans came later and built their great city. Large quantities of wine made throughout Lazio were sold in Rome, a secure sales market for the region. That doesn’t necessarily lend itself to quality and quantities were huge- a lot of drinkable, food-friendly wine. That’s one reason Lazio is less known but that’s changing.
According to Italian wine expert Ian d’Agata in his article for Vinous, “…by far the most intriguing wine production area in Lazio today is the one where the three red Cesanese varieties rule, situated immediately south and southeast of Rome, in the direction of the city of Frosinone.”
#ItalianFWT Focus on Less Known Italian Wine Regions
Susannah Gold from Vigneto Communications, and Avvinare presented the Italian Food, Wine and Travel group with an alternative way to end 2019- choose something people know less about. I’m ending the year with Lazio and Cesanese. Down below find other less known regions the group features this month.
Join Us on Twitter! Saturday, December 7th at 8am Pacific / 17:00 in Italy. Use the hashtag #ItalianFWT to follow our chat.
Land of Endless Possibilities
Lazio offers quite a bit to visitors: history, ruin exploration, UNESCO sites, hiking, cycling and walking routes, forests, beaches, gourmet food, and wine that’s getting better and better. All this in the center of Italy where Tuscany, Umbria, and the Marche are to the north, Abruzzo and Molise to the east, and Campania to the south. Lazio’s west side abuts the Tyrrhenian Sea giving it a beautiful stretch of coastline. And Rome is almost smack in the center of the region.
Cesanese – The Grape That Might Shine a Light on Lazio
Qualitatively a solid rediscovery of Cesanese- “che-san-ey-zey”– over the last several years means back on the radar for those who love trying something other than Cabernet and Merlot.
Cesanese is indigenous and almost exclusively grown in Lazio, although it grows in Tuscany and Umbria too. (Sometimes people refer to indigenous grapes as autochthonous (aw-tok-thun-nuhs)). It’s a late ripening variety thus harvest is late in the season to assure maximum phenolyic ripeness.
Three different sub-varieties exist: Cesanese Comune, Cesanese Di Affile, and Cesanese Nostrano (recently discovered), Di Affile being higher quality.
Cesanese Di Affile is frequently found in the southern Lazio province of Frosinone commonly in the towns Piglio and Affile on hilly volcanic soils. The result of better quality was recognition: Cesanese Del Piglio became the first Lazio DOCG in 2008. (See the map just above for location in pink!)
Located south and east of Rome, the Cesanese Del Piglio DOCG generally has a temperate climate- warm during the summer with cooler winters. Fortunately frost is rare, though late summer storms sometimes bring hail that damages grapes that are near harvesting.
This photo shows the gold fascette (band/wrapper) or sometimes called sigillo (signature) seal. Prior to 2011 the seals were three different colors, one for sparkling, white and red wines. Today gold is it.
Cesanese In My Glass
Casale Della Ioria, Tenuta Della Ioria, Cesanese Del Piglio Superiore 2017 | 13.5% abv |12€
Clear, medium ruby in color, the first sniff made me think of dirt, dusty dirt, the kind you smell in a warm and dry climate when you’re riding a horse who’s kicking up dust. It was fairly tight upon cork pull… we coddled the wine to get it to open up. After five minutes and swirling mixed dried herbs, cherry and black berry surfaced.
A flavor combination of freshness, depth and balance; aromas followed through leading to forest floor. Tannins were soft and prickly up front, just enough to grab your attention but not overpower, then smoothed elegantly. As far as acidity, tannins, body, and length, it’s medium all the way around. The wine shined on day two with intenser fruit, a softer body and more balance. It’s drinkable now but a few years will mean a nice development of complexity. At just 12€ ($17 – $26), I’d put this on my table any evening.
Food pairing: roasted red kuri squash and gigantes beans topped with burrata and a dollop of pesto. Roasting the squash brought sweetness to the flesh that amplified the fruitiness of the wine. And the savory aspect of the dish mirrored that of the wine, a super vegetarian meal. This would also pair with pork, lamb, pasta and polenta dishes with meat and/or vegetables.
December Italian Food, Wine, Travel group discusses the less known wine regions of Italy
Saturday, December 7th at 11am ET, 17:00 in Italy with hashtag #ItalianFWT
Our host Susannah at Avvinare tells us about “Basilicata and its Viticultural Gems #ItalianFWT”
Wendy from A Day In The Life On the Farm pairs “Venison Stew with the Hidden Gem of Sicily, Nero d’Avola”
Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Cam brings “Italy Meets Argentina: Empanadas de Carne + Azienda Bisceglia Terra di Vulcano Aglianico del Vulture 2016”
Gwen from Wine Predator joins with “3 Surprising Sparklers from Emilia Romagna’s Terramossa #ItalianFWT”
Cindy from Grape Experiences has “Montecucco – An Obscure, Delicious Slice of Tuscany”
Linda at My Full Wine Glass writes about “Big bold Aglianico from little Molise (#ItalianFWT)”
Here at Savor the Harvest I “Head to Italy’s Lazio Wine Region for Cesanese #ItalianFWT”
Katarina from Grape Vine Adventures takes us to Calabria with “Sustainable Wines for the Curious Mind from Calabria”
And Jennifer, our group ambassador at her blog Vino Travels Italy tells the story of “Sangiovese from Le Marche with Agricola La Canosa”
Let’s end with Lazio Wine Tidbits:
- Less common grapes to go along with this less known region: Malvasia del Lazio (aka Malvasia Puntinata), Bellone, Trebbiano Giallo (now very rare), Roscetto, Nero Buono, and the Cesanese varieties.
- Lazio’s most famous white wine is Frascati
- There are 3 DOCGs and 27 DOCs in this region