Wines from Lazio have been a big thing for me this summer. I spent the better part of two weeks in the region in June. In addition to a wonderful wedding of a dear friend in Zagarolo, a town south of Rome, I had the opportunity to taste a lot of interesting wines.
These included an Amarasco from the Principe Pallavicini made from Cesanese del Piglio. Cesanese is usually a blend of Cesanese Comune and Cesanese d’Affile. Cesanese gives big, juicy, somewhat spicy wines. Sometimes I find it reminiscent of a Primitivo but I think that is its meaty undertone. I shared a bottle with a friend in Rome and it was delicious. I had tasted the wine three years earlier when I interviewed the Principessa Pallavicini. I liked the wine at the time and I also really enjoyed this newer vintage.
Cesanese del Piglio was recently given DOCG status, the only wine in Lazio to obtain this designation. Vinowire, an informative newswire about Italian wines, reported the event earlier this year. I got a certain amount of pleasure surprising some Roman friends with this news. They had no idea and in fact, a few didn’t believe me. They were quite surprised that Cesanese had been awarded this honor. Many think that the grape is overrated but I was pleased to see Lazio get a bit more play. I think they have made great strides in their viticulture.
I tried a couple of good blends from Castel de Paolis, a few from Paola De Mauro that were noteworthy and the organic wines of Marco Carpineto that were expensive but outstanding. There were many interesting wines and luckily you can sip a large number at a variety of wine bars in town. You can try many wines at the chic Enoteca Regionale Palatium in Via Frattina, just minutes away from the Spanish steps.
In Italy, the bride and the groom usually give out Confetti (sugar coated almonds) at the end of the wedding. My friend, Teresa De Paolis and her husband Filippo Trezzi, decided to also give out Ciambelle di Zagarolo, the local specialty. These Ciambelle al VIno or the Italian equivalent of donuts are best served with the local Cannellino wine made from Malvasia and Trebbiano. The wedding lasted for approximately four days and much wine and many donuts were consumed.
Zagarolo is also famous for horse meat, specifically for a delicacy called Tordo Matto. This is a roll of horse meat filled with pig lard, garlic, salt, pepper, coriander and parsley. It sounds so-so and as an animal lover I was and am opposed to eating horse meat. However, in a moment of weakness at a huge barbecue, I tried one. It was exquisite. I feel terrible saying so but it is the truth. There is a very famous restaurant in town where you can try this delicacy along with many others called Il Tordo Matto.
For further news about wines from Lazio, check out an article I wrote for Alta Cucina Society, an Epicurean Society.