Lazio may not shine particularly brightly in the pantheon of Italian wine production but it offers a series of interesting wines, produced with indigenous grape varieties and, even if the potential has still to be exploited with greater determination by the producers, the quality is exponentially increasing every year. The recent DOCG appellations for Cesanese del Piglio (in 2008), Frascati Superiore and Cannellino di Frascati (in 2011) are definitely proving this new trend in the region.
Of course wine here has been cultivated for many centuries by the Romans and the Etruscan, but the growth of Rome as a political, commercial and tourist centre has brought a strong economic affluence to the area and a new interest in the local wines.
The soils of the region, mostly volcanic, are particularly suited to white wine production for their contribution to the grapes’ acidity. The climate may vary depending on the areas as it is influenced by the Tyrrenhian Sea on the west coast and the Apennines mountains on the Eastern borders.
A couple of big lakes, Bracciano and Bolsena (the biggest European volcanic lake), also create a mesoclimate favourable to viticulture.
The most widespread grape varieties are: Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia del Lazio, Trebbiano Giallo, Bellone, Bombino, Cesanese Comune, Cesanese di Affile, Neo Buono di Cori and Aleatico.
Here are three wineries worth visiting:
Paolo e Noemia D’Amico — Castiglione in Teverina
This winery located in the heart of the Tuscia is producing among the most interesting and reliable wines of Lazio, mainly from international grape varieties. The cellars are open to the public every day, from 10 am to 5 pm, upon reservation, except in January and August.
Falesco — Montecchio
The winery is actually located in the region of Umbria, but its vineyards extend from the hills surrounding Orvieto and the area around the Bolsena lake. They produce a mix of wines, based on both indigenous and international varieties. Montiano, probably their most famous wine, one of the most regarded reds wines of the region, is based on Merlot. But they also produce a good Est! Est!! Est!!! and some refreshing white Orvieto. Open Monday to Friday: 8.30 — 13.00 / 14.00 — 17.30
Antica Cantina Leonardi — Montefiascone
This winery dates back to the 20th century and it is now managed by the third Leonardi generation. The vineyards are on volcanic soil around the Bolsena lake at around 450m above sea level. Maturation and bottle ageing still happens in caves dug into volcanic lapilli.