Women in Wine – Lazio’s Principessa Pallavicini

I wrote this article for the Alta Cucina Society, an Epicurean organization recently and thought I would refer to it on my blog. I interviewed Principessa Maria Camilla Pallavicini and have had the occasion to try many of her wines over the years from the Pallavicini Winery in Lazio.

Wines from Lazio are not that well known yet in the States. Most of what is imported is so-so Frascati. The Pallavicini family grows the grapes that are indigenous to Lazio, including Cesanese, Greco Bianco, Grechetto, Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia di Latium, and Trebbiano Toscano as well as international varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet, Petit Verdot and Syrah. I tasted a number of Pallavicini wines on my recent trip to Rome in June. My favorites are the Amarasco, a blend of grapes from different Cesanese clones. The grapes are left to slightly raisin on the vine giving extra strength and flavor. Red fruits and the spicy nature of the Cesanese grape burst through and lead to an enveloping round, velvety mouthfeel and a long finish.

“Lazio was originally not well known for making quality wines but we have done much work to recreate the image of Lazio wines,” the Princess noted. The family exports approximately 50% of their wines to markets in Europe and the America and invested heavily in replanting many of their vines and the extra care shows in the quality of their wines. They also increased the density of the plantings and have undertaken considerable clone research. “Cesanese is not all homogenous,” the Princess said, “we have taken pains to grow the most suitable clones for the different properties.” The Pallavicini can also help to reproduce better clones in their plant nurseries. This is a perfect wine to eat with meat dishes. One Christmas in Rome, I brought a bottle to my dear friend Romi’s house. Romi is from Sicily with many Neapolitan relatives and a Bolognese husband. Christmas at her house means 12 hours at the table, eating and drinking followed by more hours of card playing. The wine was perfect.

I also really enjoy the Pallavicini dessert wine called Stillato, made from Malvasia del Latium. It is simply a symphony in your mouth with notes of apricot, tropical fruits, honey and vanilla. Approximately 25% of the wine is partially fermented in barriques made from Acacia wood which gives it a honeyed complexity on the palate. The Pallavicini make a very wide range of white and red wines including for the whites Pagello made from Greco and Grechetto, Poggio Verde, a classic blend of Frascati grapes ( Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia del Latium, Trebbiano Toscano, Grechetto and Greco), and La Giara from Malvasia del Lazio, among others. They also make a delicious red wine called Moroello from a blend of Sangiovese and Merlot as well as Soleggio from Cabernet Sauvignon, Tiaso from Sangiovese and a Syrah. The winery has recently introduced a number of new wines including Casa Romana 06, a red blend from made with Petit Verdot and Cabernet grapes. It will be available in October 2008. They have also created a white blend called 1670 made from Malvasia di Latium also known as Malvasia puntinata and Semillion. This bottle celebrates the year that the Pallavicini bought their property.

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