Drink like a gladiator of Ancient Rome, then leap forward in time to the 12th century to admire "The Sistine Chapel of the Middle Ages".
Quoted as 'the king of all Lazio wines'; 'the wine of gladiators' and 'the next Italian wine sensation' - the Cesanese grape dates back circa 3000 years. It was originally made as a sweet or slightly sparkling wine rather than the sophisticated red of today - medium/full-bodied, velvety, warming, perfect!
Travelling south-east of Rome towards the area known locally as the Ciociaria. (Ciociaria is the antique name given to the area after a kind of sheepskin sandal called Ciocie worn by shepherds) we make our way to a refreshment break for cappuccino & croissant (or whatever you prefer) with a view of the Cathedral at Anagni which you will be visiting in the morning.
At the cathedral your guide will reveal the fascinating symbolism and hidden meanings of the stunning 12th and 13th century frescoes in the breathtakingly beautiful crypt underneath the cathedral. You will also visit the cathedral itself where you will be walking on Cosmati mosaic floor tiles (the Cosmati family were famous for manufacturing a certain type of tile, which you will notice many examples of during your time in Italy) and you'll visit the Oratory of Thomas O'Beckitt. The oratory dates back to the 12th century but prior to that it was originally a site of pagan worship (1st century AD) and before that, around the 7th century BC the local Hernici tribe inhabited this territory. Anagni also gave four popes to Rome so we imagine that they would have drunk the local Cesanese wine and that it would also have been transported to Rome. As the cathedral is located in the old part of Anagni town, you'll be able to explore the local shops.
Either following this first visit, or in the afternoon after your vineyard tour, we will visit a very special cheese shop, known for its smoked Buffalo mozzarella, ricotta made from Buffalo milk and much more besides for a tasting. We then move on to a local delicatessen where you can purchase local cured hams, sheep cheeses, rustic bread, chocolate, etc.. The shop is especially welcoming in the Autumn/Winter months and especially around Christmas.
For lunch we would reserve you a table in a very special restaurant, where you can also decide to have a further wine tasting. *if you'd like a table reserving please let us know at time of booking.
In the afternoon you will have a guided tour of one of the best producers of the Cesanese red wine, at an attractive family-run vineyard nearby. The wines have a strong history linked to the people who worked the land centuries ago, and were enjoyed by popes and princes! The relaxing landscape varies between rugged low mountains and stretches of olive groves and grapevines climbing the nearby range. Piglio, an ancient hill town rises in the distance. First human settlements date back over 700,000 years according to the dating of Palaeolithic fragments.
Grape varieties on this tour:
Whites - Passerina
Reds - Cesanese di Affile
If you're based in Frosinone we could include or substitute with the amazing Charter House at Trisulti which has its own unique features, intriguing history and spectacular countryside panoramas. You need a head for heights on this one as the road leading up snakes around the mountain side but your reward is a beautiful setting with amazing vistas and a tranquillity that is hard to find in our busy everyday lives. We'd also recommend Guarcino - a very pretty mountain town, to sample the delicious almond cookies (Amaretti) that the town is famous for.
ANAGNI & SURROUNDING AREA
The Lazio variety is known as 'Aleatico di Gradoli' - Gradoli is a nearby village overlooking lake Bolsena of north Lazio. It is generally believed that the grapes were introduced by the Etruscans. They are traditionally used for red wines. Tasting notes: aromatic, floral, hints of roses and violets, black cherries, velvety, smooth.
This wonderful grape has many synonyms (in Lazio it can also be known as Arciprete or Cacchione. It was cited by Pliny the Elder: proof that Bellone has been present in Lazio since ancient times?). Tasting notes: fragrant, rounded, smooth, peach, apricot, sometimes banana, honey, bitter orange, hazelnut.
Originating in France, introduced into Italy in the 1800's (parent of Cabernet Sauvignon, used as a blending grape in the famous Bordeaux blend), Cabernet Franc does extremely well in Lazio as a single varietal. Tasting notes: peppery, dark aromatic spices, red fruits, licorice, sometimes tobacco and violets.
Of uncertain origins, with recent studies suggesting a spontaneous cross-breeding between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc during the 18th century, although Pliny cited a vitis caburnica, which could be a reference to the same grape. Tasting notes: dark fruits, chocolate, earthy, velvety tannins.
One of Lazio's 3 DOCG wines produced by this antique autochthonous varietal. The Piglio valley has been used for growing grapes since Etruscan times. Earliest records date to the Roman era (133 BC). Tasting notes: intense cherry and forest fruits, black pepper, floral (violet), mineral, tobacco and juniper.
Opinion differs re the origins. Some say a native of Burgundy (after Roman soldiers planted Gouais Blanc there which crossed with Pinto Blanc); others say it came from the Middle East, brought to Italy by returning crusaders. Tasting notes: fresh, crisp, smooth, acacia, peach, exotic fruits, apple, vanilla, honey.
A central Italian grape variety (Greci genus) and probable Greek origin brought to Italy by Greek colonists into Magna Grecia (southern Italy). It is often used in blends but also as a successful single varietal. Tasting notes: exotic fruits, white flowers, aromatic, buttery, hazelnut, vanilla, subtle woody flavours.
It is said that since ancient times two varieties of the Greco Bianco (Greci genus) were cultivated in a small territory of south-east Lazio, but over time had almost become extinct. Today these varieties are revived and thriving in the same area. Tasting notes: peach, pear, almond, vegetal, mineral, tropical fruit.
There are 3 varieties in Lazio, predominantly in the Frascati/Castelli Romani volcanic complex, but also elsewhere in the region. Used in blends (single varietal in passito). An antique Peloponnese vine thought to have arrived in Venice via Crete. Tasting notes: apricot, floral (acacia, lavender), citrus and dried fruits.
A well known Bordeaux grape from Gironde, the Merlot grape reached Italy late 1700's/1800's. Often produced in Lazio as a single varietal - finding ideal conditions in both terrain and climate - as well as in blends. Tasting notes: summer berries, vanilla, warm woody spices, dark fruits, velvety, sometimes herbaceous.
This well documented autochthonous grape most likely originated in Tuscany and represents one of the best of central Italy reds (not to be confused with the Sangiovese grape of the famous wine Nobile di Montepulciano). Tasting notes: black cherry, blackberry, licorice, spices (nutmeg).
The Nero Buono grape has obscure origins but is believed to have been cultivated around the Cori territory for two millennia. The micro-climate and geology of surrounding volcanic hills are ideal for this rediscovered and revived grape. Tasting notes: complex spiced, full-bodied, dark berries, cocoa.
Origins of the Passerina are uncertain - a rare autochthonous grape producing a well regarded wine of the Ciociaria. Named after a small bird (Passera - of the Sparrow family), which likes to eat the grapes. Tasting notes: golden apple, citrus fruits, fresh floral aromas with a good balance of sweet and savoury.
Originally from the Mèdoc are of Gironde and used traditionally in blends with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, it holds its own in Lazio as a single varietal, adapting perfectly to the micro-climates of this region. Tasting notes: red berries, myrtle, juniper, full-bodied with velvety tannins, incense and a peppery finish.
Taking its name from the blood of Jupiter (sanguis Jovis) this central Italy grape gives us the famous Brunello di Montalcino and the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Well known by the 16th century but probably dating to Roman times (reference to the god Jupiter). Tasting notes: red fruits, earthy, strawberry, spices.
There are two schools of thought re the origins: that the grape came from Shiraz, Ancient Persia, or from Syracuse, Italy (imported from Egypt by Emperor Marcus Aurelius Probus). Used in blends for Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Tasting notes: cherry, blueberry, warm spices, vanilla, black pepper, cinnamon.
Lazio has two predominant varieties: Toscano (also known as/related to Procanico) and Giallo (known as/related to Roscetto). Pliny the Elder named the latter "Vinum Trebulanum" (Romans were already calling the vine Trebula - meaning 'farm'). Tasting notes: aromatic, woody, almond, melon, apricot.
Origins are unknown but presumed to be an ancient grape. One legend states that Emperor Marcus Aurelia Probus brought vines to the Rhone Valley probably from his home-land, Dalmatia/Sirmium (an ancient Roman province). Tasting notes: fresh floral and mineral aromas, creamy ripe peach, sensuous.