"As they inhabit a land fertile in fruits of all kinds and cultivate it assiduously, they enjoy an abundance of agricultural produce which not only is sufficient for themselves but by its excess leads them to unbridled luxury and indolence." Jacques Heurgon (1903-1995)
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Etruscans were making wine from around the 10th c. BC. and this private wine tour takes you on a discovery of their ancient methods, their rituals and daily wine habits.
We propose a unique tasting lunch at one of the wineries where you will be dining inside a prehistoric volcanic rock situated next to a medieval guard tower set in a noble estate. You will have a guided tour of the grounds and cellar led by an onsite expert. The second winery is located on spacious plains between the Tyrrhenian coast and low mountains. Here you have chance to try their entire wine production, together with typical local breads, meats and cheeses, led by one of the owners.
To complete you Etruscan Experience we propose a visit to the amazing Banditaccia Necropolis - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - at Cerveteri, a nearby Etruscan town, either early morning or afternoon.
Alternatively, depending on your tailored itinerary the day can end at an elegant restaurant for evening dinner overlooking one of Lazio's breathtaking lakes.
Key grape varieties on this tour:
This will depend on your start location (which ideally will be Rome), and inclusions in your itinerary, but we normally recommend a full 8-hour day.
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.