Lazio - Food and wines - Wines
Rome's region is intrinsically lined to white wine - to Frascati and Marino and the other golden-hued "bianchi" of the Castelli Romani and to the fabled Est!Est!!Est!!! from the northern Latium town of Montefiascone. These wines, which are based almost exclusive on various types of Malvasia andTrebbiano, were traditionally "abboccato", mouth filling, though not so sweet as the overwhelm the flavour of food. They were easy, everday wines not designed to last long of travel far.
The introduction of low temperature processing and sterile filtration have transformed their pesonalities into dryer, crisper, lighter, more durable wines with a propensity to travel that has opened up new commercial horizons. Still, with only the occasional exception, the whites of Latium are pleasantly fleshy and fruity, wines that go enticingly well with a great range of foods but are not the sort to be laid away or fussed over.
Their immediacy is byno means a negative attribute, as evidenced by the established world market for Frascati (which ranks in the top ten DOCs in volume with nearly 20 million litres a year). Marino and less publicised but worthy neighbors in Colli Albani, Colli Lanuvini and Montecompatri-Colonna. Though some admirers argue that the fuller, stronger "abboccato" or "cannellino" versions are what Malvasia is all about, the world's consumers seem to prefer them softly dry.
The ancient Romans drank white wines, too, though Horace and company reserved their greatest praise for the red Falernum and Caecubum - which were grown along the southern coast near Gaeta and Sperlonga. Even today, though white wine accounts for an overwhelming share of the region's production, certain of Latium's red wines seem to be more convincing to connoisseurs.
The DOC reds vary in composition. Aprilia, in the reclaimed stretches of what were once the Pontine Marshes, turns out considerable quantities of Merlot and Sangiovese. The reds of Cerveteri, Cori and Velletri are based on Montepulciano and Sangiovese. The native Cesanese makes richly flavoured dry and sweet wines in the three DOC zones of the Prenestina and Ciociaria hills southeast of Rome. Aleatico makes a Port-like dessert on the northern shores of Lake Bolsena at Gradoli.
Cabernet and Merlot are the stars in three highly praised modern "vini da tavola" of Latium, in Fiorano Rosso and Colle Picchioni from just south of Rome and in Torre Ercolana, which combines the French varieties with Cesanese, at the hill town of Anagni. Latium's modern Falernum is based on Aglianico and Caecubum, now called Cecubo, is made up of the local Abbuoto with some Negroamaro. These reds, and others, prove that the fortunes of premium wine production in Latium are not entirely white.