Blogging about Rome & Lazio | Food | Wine | Travel | Traditions
We thought we'd kick-off our wine blogging close to home with a short drive to Cerveteri and the land of Etruscan wine! But first a brief intro to the Lazio wine territory . . .
Unlike Tuscany, which undulates with gently rolling hills as far as the eye can see, the Lazio region is a starker contrast between mountains and flat plains. So, if you're driving through, it's much less obvious that this is a wine region at all.
You also might not be familiar with hearing about 'Lazio' wines because the territories are not homogenized into one solid regional identity, as with Tuscany or Piedmont, for example. Local farmers and wine-growers are fiercely proud (and rightly so) of their land, their heritage and their produce. Aferall the Romans weren't idiots - they based themselves here for good reason, not least for the fertile land and temperate climate.
So you're much more likely to have heard of a wine in relation to the grapes in it, or for the location of the nearest town, for example, wines from around Frascati are referred to as Frascati wines or, depending upon their classification: Frascati DOC or DOCG (more on that later); the Cesanese del Piglio is named after the hill town of Piglio where these vines thrive in the plains below!
Another quirk of this region is that locals still use the ancient names for the provinces, so the Viterbo province is known as 'Tuscia', Rieti: 'Sabina', Frosinone: the 'Ciociaria' and Latina: the 'Agro Pontino', so you may find some wines being referred to as, for example, a 'Tuscia DOC'.
Returning to Cerveteri wines - we are fairly big fans - both reds and whites - and have our favourites, but generally the composition of clay, silt and sand, together with the protection of the hills inland and the on-shore breezes from the Tyrrhenian Sea seem to favour the varieties of grapes in the area.
The Petit Verdot, for example, which is a French grape - often used in Bordeaux blends - does better here than it does there, partly on account of Italy's warmer climate and is also used here to make a single varietal wine rather than as a blend. The Cabernet Franc also stands really well on its own, as opposed to blending, with some promising and very drinkable results.
The whites have a pleasant crisp minerality to them, taking on hints of herbs, grasses and citrus fruit flavours.
Not forgetting to mention the Giacché grape variety, said to be one of the oldest local varieties growing only in this territory, producing a bold red and a dessert red. It's fun to imagine the ancient Etruscans possibly having drunk their version of this wine.