Lazio, Italy (or Latium, in Latin) has had a lackluster reputation in the wine world for a long amount of time. There isn’t really anything wrong with the region, but their grapes have just never reached their full potential. For decades, the wines grown in Lazio were simply produced for profit, and quality was pretty far down on the list of priorities.
The reason that is such a shame is that the viticulture of the area is absolutely prime for stellar winemaking, and thankfully, the most recent generation of producers has taken advantage of it. Between the volcanic hills, the marine air, and adequate rainfall, Lazio is actually suited to be a top region in Italy.
The northern part of Lazio borders Tuscany and the southern area is near Umbria and Abruzzo, with the center of the entire region being Rome itself. There are 30 different appellations within the entire region of Lazio, with over 200 different varietals planted throughout. There are a few appellations that are particularly well known, mostly because they’re the wines you can purchase outside of Lazio.
Frascati: A blend of Malvasia and Trebbiano. The result is a crisp white wine that brings hints of peaches and citrus. There are two other related DOCGs, Frascati Superiore (the higher quality production), and Cannellino di Frascati, which is a rare sweet wine made from late-harvest, noble rot grapes.
Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone: The name of a beautiful region that was created by a very excited bishop who was very impressed with the wine. The production of this appellation is a much lighter and zestier white, one that also has notes of peach but comes with a bit of smoke and salinity.
Cesanese: An intense red that actually existed in the Roman times. It’s tannic and rustic, with heavy notes of red fruits and plums. Think a feast of game and fowl, with large goblets of a rich red wine. That’s Cesanese. It also happens to be the only red DOCG in all of Lazio.
Bellone: One of the most commonly produced whites in Lazio. It’s a simple fellow but it doesn’t fall short. After spending eight months fermenting in terracotta jugs, it comes out with a gorgeous complex combination of baked pears and honey, quince, and even baked bread.
What’s better than great wine and artisanal pizza?
The New York Times described Ridge Monte Bello as “America’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignon.”
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