Category Archives: lazio

Wine Wednesday: Falesia Chardonnay from D’Amico Winery

This week’s wine Wednesday is dedicated to one I tasted a while back but have not been able to forget. It’s the Falesia chardonnay from D’Amico Winery located at the confluence of Umbria/Lazio/Tuscany. I met the couple during a lunch in New York at Marea organized by the lovely Tony DiDio. I had never heard of the winery and was intrigued. The couple made their mark in other industries and started their winery out of a passion for the vine in 1985. The winemaker is quite young and french which was a further twist. Their winery is located in the Calenchi valley on volcanic soil which brings lots of minerality to the wines.

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Vaiano, is a UNESCO protected area on the border between Tuscany, Lazio and Umbria.
It is said to be the birthplace of the Etruscan culture. The exciting and moonlike landscape is a result of water passing over tufa stone which led to these amazing cliffs.

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I have never visited the property but it looks very interesting and the cellars apparently have been excavated underneath the vines and the hanging gardens, attempting to recreate an Etruscan cellar that was found on the property.

We tried a number of wines that day, both reds and whites. Like many others, I tend to be a little less enthusiastic when I try an international varietal from Italy rather than an indigenous one, of which they have so many,  but I decided to suspend my usual thinking and was richly rewarded throughout the tasting. I really enjoyed the Calanchi and Falesia Chardonnay wines. The latter particularly as it was made from 30 year old vines. I even got some petrol notes on the Falesia which were unexpected The wines also both spent time on their lees and this creamy texture came through on the palate as well. According to the winemaker, they have a regime of using a low level of sulfites. Lees can also do the job to protect the wines from oxygen, the winemaker said. Commenting on the high level of acidity, he noted that volcanic soil helps to maintain freshness and acidity in wines.

Vaiano, Private Property (http://www.cedricreversade.com), Italy

We also tried a wine called Noe which was a blend of Grechetto, Pinot Grigio and Trebbiano. It was very aromatic and fresh. I am sure on a hot day like today, more than one bottle would be poured at my table.

The Falesia which was my pick for today had a bit of everything I like, great minerality, white fruit notes of apple, pear and some herbaceous notes. as well as a creamy texture from the lees. It reminded me a lot of some of the Antinori chardonnay I have tasted from Italy. The volcanic soils also brought sapidity to all of these wines, another characteristic I favor.

The winery also makes a Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Franc which we tasted and were inviting. I’m in love with Cabernet Franc as a grape so I will write about that one as well. The Cabernet Franc had just the right amount of pepper and spice and elegance that I look for with that grape together with great mineraity, something I love to find in a red wine. I hope to see more of these wines on various lists in the city. I know you can find them both at Marea and at the Lincoln. You can also find some of the wines in these places on wine-searcher. A winery to watch, I hope to visit on a future trip to Italy.

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Filed under Grechetto, Italian regions, lazio, Tuscany, Umbria, Wine Wednesday, wines

Easter Traditions In Rome

Fountain in Piazza Navona - Rome

I have had the pleasure of spending Easter in Rome a number of times. The city is very crowded with tourists and often school children. “La Settimana Santa” or the Holy Week is considered a perfect time to visit the Eternal City. Many hope to see the Pope who is in residence and gives Mass in St. Peter’s square on Easter morning.

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Romans skip their cornetti or brioche as they are known in other parts of Italy and have a big breakfast with eggs and salami. I once had one that was billed as an Easter donut or Ciambella that was filled with eggs and salami. The only problem was that we were on a sailboat going around the island of Elba and the weather wasn’t great so that kind of a heavy breakfast on Easter was hard for me but hey who am I to argue with tradition.

After breakfast, when in Rome, many do try to go see the Pope. One year I did that as well. The crowd was immense and the experience was intense and moving, even to a non-Catholic such as myself.

tenuta-pallavicini-in-lazio

When Romans sit down for their Easter lunch, as I did with friends at their home in Zagarolo, they will find Abbacchio at the table, or lamb. Here’s a recipe for how it is made. You will also find Carciofi alla Romana. I love Artichokes and this is the season you will find them in Italian markets all over the country. Here is a recipe for making Carciofi alla Romana. Lots of other items may be part of the meal but these two are key components as is the Colomba di Pasqua for dessert.

While this is happening, what are people drinking? I’ve found that Romans tend to have a mix of wines at the meal. Perhaps a red wine with the lamb. It could be Cesanese del Piglio which is a local grape from Lazio. I first discovered this grape variety in 2005 when I was doing a series of interviews with winemakers throughout Italy for a project. Cesanese del Piglio is made from a minimum of 90% Cesanese Comune and Cesanese d’Affile. Cesanese is not that widely seen on wine list menus and I think it is a real shame. It produces wines that are hearty and ruby red in color. It also brings spice and supple tannins to the table and blends well with other grape varieties.

zagarolo

For dessert, Romans have a few fun local choices including Malvasia del Lazio which I wrote about in February as part of my Italian indigenous grape variety series. Or perhaps Cannellino from Frascati made with Malvasia and Trebbiano.

Easter Monday is a holiday in Italy, Pasquetta. Everyone is generally having a big lunch somewhere “fuori porta” or out of town. I have many fond memories of Easter in Italy and Pasquetta. It’s a lovely way to begin the Spring season.

Here are a variety of other Easter dishes and wines to enjoy.  If you catch this in time, chat with us live this Saturday April 1st on Twitter at #ItalianFWT @ 11am EST.  

Jen from Vino Travels features Easter Celebrations in Puglia

Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla features Il Verdetto di
Pasqua + Sella & Mosca Terre Rare Riserva Carignano
Susannah of Avvinare features Easter Traditions in Rome
Jill of L’Occasion features 5 Italian Easter Dishes and Wine Pairings

Gwendolyn of Art Predator features Easter Bread and other Italian Traditions Paired with Wine

Mike of Undiscovered Italy features Colomba di Pasqua

Join us next month on May 6th as Gwendolyn from Art Predator hosts Italian Sparkling Wines.  See you then!

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Filed under #ItalianFWT, Holidays, lazio, Memorable Events, wines

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia del Lazio

Fountain in Piazza Navona - Rome

This week’s grape variety is called Malvasia del Lazio. It as you can imagine, grows primarily in the southern Italian region of Lazio, of which Rome is the capital. It is sometimes also referred to as Malvasia puntinata because of the small dots on the grape. Usually this grape is blended with other varieties, Trebbiano and other Malvasia varieties. It brings color, distinct aromatics, and finesse to the blend. It has a lot of sapidity, minerality and lovely floral aromas. It can be seen in the following DOC wines: Bianco Capena, Cerveteri, Colli Albani, Frascati, Marino and Montecompatri-Colonna. I once wrote a post about Malvasia Puntinata which you can read here.

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Lazio is truly a forgotten region in my view in terms of their viticultural offerings. I have written often about their wines because it is a personal passion and I have dear friends in Rome so I get to visit frequently and am introduced to new producers through these friends. It’s hard to find wines from Lazio in the states but it is possible. Here are some that are available stateside.

I have tried a number of wines made with this particular Malvasia and one I really enjoyed was the Pallavicini dessert wine called Stillato, made from 100% Malvasia del Lazio. 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. A fascinating family history goes along with that storied Roman name and great wines.

tenuta-pallavicini-in-lazio

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Filed under Indigenous Italian Varieties, Italian DOC Wines, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, lazio, wines

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia Bianca di Candia (Lazio)

zagarolo

This week’s variety is another Malvasia. It is called Malvasia Bianca di Candia. It’s grows primarily in Lazio but also in Emilia Romagna, Le Marche, Umbria, Tuscany and Liguria. It is also sometimes called Malvasia Rossa because of the color the buds take on. However it must be distinguished from Malvasia di Candia. It likes to grow on hills but can also manage clay and dry soils. It prefers a warm climate. It makes a less aromatic wine than the other Malvasia di Candia. This one makes wines that are straw yellow in color, a tad sality or sapid, with a bitter note on the finish. It is usually blended with other grapes because it tends to oxidize. It is found in wines from Colli di Parma DOC, and often in Cerveteri, Circeo, Colli Lanuvini, Cori, Frascati, Genazzano, Montecomprati Colonna, Gardiolo, and Zagarolo.

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I found this producer, Azienda Viticola Di Marzio who is focused on Malvasia di Candia and Trebbiano Toscano not far from Rome. Apparently they are organic. They write on their website that this variety grows well in dry soils without too much calcareous material. They are located in the town of Lanuvino which is a vulcano.

Fountain in Piazza Navona - Rome

It looks like a winery that I would like to visit the next time I am in Rome. Infact the whole area seems interesting. I have a dear friend who lives in Zagarolo so I have spent a lot of time there but never in the other areas of the Castelli Romani. I look forward to my next trip and to visiting this winery. Not enough is written about wines from Lazio in my view.

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Filed under American Wine, AOC, emilia romagna, Italian Indigenous, Italian regions, lazio, wines

Wine of the Week: Macchia Sacra IGT from Cantina Castello di Torre in Pietra

Macchia Sacra

Today’s wine of the week is Macchia Sacra IGT from Cantina Castello di Torre in Pietra from Lazio. I tried this wine while searching the halls of Vinitaly for a client that I couldn’t locate and I stayed a while to chat with the owners. I’m a fan of wines from Lazio, albeit they aren’t very well known or available in the US market. This wine is made from a blend of two indigenous varieties – Malvasia Puntinata and Fiano. It had a lot of sapidity, minerality and lovely floral aromas from the Malvasia – a perfect summer wine.

This winery has 50 hectares of vines on a very large property of 150 hectares. The winery follows organic principals for growing their grapes and doesn’t use pesticides of any kind. The vines are located on sloping hills facing South and West. The soil is a mix of fossils and sandy where the white grapes are grown. There is more clay in the soil where the red varieties are placed. The planting density is about 5000 plants per hectare. The area is favored as well by breezes which keep the grapes healthy and clean.

The winery can also count on antique cellars for aging of its wines, carved out of the Tufa stone and used in the 1500s as well. They ferment their whites in stainless steel and concrete and wood for aging some of the reds.

Reading the literature they gave me, I discovered that the winery was bought by Luigi Albertini, the owner of the Italian daily, Corriere della Sera in 1926 and that in the past it belonged to the family of Pope Sisto V. Currently Filippo Antonelli and Lorenzo Majnoni own the winery and are responsible for its wine production. Now I understand why Antonelli’s fantastic passito was also being offered at the same stand…

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Filed under Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, lazio, Travel, Wine of the Week, wines

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Cesanese Comune & Cesanese d’Affile from Lazio

I first discovered these grape varieties in 2005 when I was doing a series of interviews with winemakers throughout Italy for a project. The grape hails from Lazio where I have spent quite a bit of time thanks to a dear friend who lives in Zagarolo. Cesanese del Piglio is the only wine in Lazio that was given the Denominazione d’origine garantita e controllata (DOCG). It must be made from a minimum of 90% Cesanese Comune and Cesanese d’Affile.

Cesanese is not that widely seen on wine list menus and I think it is a real shame. It produces wines that are hearty and ruby red in color. It also brings spice and supple tannins to the table and blends well with other grape varieties.

Lazio is one of Italy’s regions that still needs to be explored by many. In addition to wonderful wines, it boasts incredibly interesting small towns that are worth a visit such as Anagni, Alatri, Ferentino – three towns that I visited in the Ciociaria. The Ciociaria is well known thanks to the movie by De Sica that won Sophie Lauren an Academy Award – La Ciociara.. Don’t miss the opportunity to see this movie, visit the area and of course, drink wines made from Cesanese.

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Filed under Italian cinema, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, lazio, Travel

Back In The Eternal City – Roma

I’m back in the eternal city and too excited and overwhelmed to sleep. I’ve in fact been up reading since 400am but no matter life is to be enjoyed “anche durante le ore piccole” or the wee hours of the night.

I’ve been in town just two days staying with riends from Italy and hanging out with  friends from the States who were in a Master’s program with me in Bologna. In fact, Zach, Julia and their great kids Sam and Jules but not little Elena and I spent part of our afternoon in Piazza Navona.

We also went to look at the Caravaggio’s in a nearby church, San Luigi dei Francesi. Somewhat overcome with all the emotions of the beauty of Rome, we settled down to have fabulous gelato near the Pantheon. My favorites are always the same, coco e caffe but the chose was difficult.

San Luigi dei Francesi was one of the stops on my dear friend Teresa’s family tour of Rome. Her father, Brunello, loved Caravaggio and it was with Teresa that I first went to that church. I got to spend an amazing day with her family on Friday in Zagarolo.

I was Teresa’s testimonio di nozze in 2008 and I’m glad to be here for her fourth anniversary, more or less. I’m sorry that I will be missing the annual festival of the Tordo Matto. I tried this local delicacy for the first time at Teresa and Filippo’s wedding and while I am against eating la carne equina (I can’t even write it),I must say that this dish was particularly memorable and part of me is sorry to not have the opportunity next weekend but I’ll be in the North.

Teresa and Filippo have introduced me to some of the most incredible restaurants and chefs that I have ever met. Top among them were Sor Anna, Antonello Colonna and the famed sommelier turned restaurateur Pipero. Who you might ask are these people?

A trio of noted Roman food & wine notables. Anna Dente is the owner and maestra of the Osteria San Cesario.

Sor Anna is the “quintessenza della Romanita’.” I know not everyone reads Italian but I just found this amazing entry about Sor Anna on the blog Le Forchettine by the multitalented author of Aglioolioepeperoncino.com. This is such a perfect description of Sor Anna and a beautifully written blog post, worth reading with a dictionary to catch some of the underlying things that make Rome great.

Sor Anna is particularly enamored of Filippo and I have always had royal treatment when I have been at the restaurant. Sadly much of the menu are things that I don’t have nell’anima. Someone who I have always thought was her son but am now less sure asked me if I didn’t like eating the “menu macabro” or a menu of internal meats much to my dad’s chagrin.

I have never forgotten that statement nor have I ventured towards any of the items on that list but if you are in Rome and like those dishes, Sor Anna is a must.

Antonello Colonna I met at his restaurant in a town called Labico outside of Rome. It was the first “ristorante di alta cucina italiana” that I had been to in my many years in Italy. Filippo was the assistant sommelier when interviewed Colonna in 2005 and was fascinated with his conceptual ideas of the kitchen, food and the like. I remember him telling me about his plans to open a resort and I see from his site that his dream has been realized. I will have to check it out. He also runs a famed restaurant in Rome at  Palazzo degli Esposizioni.

Alessandro Pipero, un altro personaggio storico and good friend of Teresa and Filippo’s is perhaps the perfect incarnation of a restaurateur. He also catered their wedding so I have been able to see his work on in the intimate setting of his restaurant as well as at a wedding for 100+ people. This blog post about his new restaurant Pipero al Rex, also in Italian is just dreamy and makes me want to eat immediately, even through it’s only 730am. Not only would I trust all of his food recommendations but wines as well without blinking. Truly a memorable experience, you must meet Pipero at least once in your life and eat in his restaurant drinking wines that he has chosen for you. He also happens to be very funny so it really is a truly memorable evening.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, I’m staying with my lovely friends who are Rome transplants from Emilia and Milan, Cristina and Giuliano and their three delicious children Emma, Camilla and Giacomo who wasn’t born at the time of the photo in 2009.

Cristina is among the loveliest and brightest people  I know as well as one of the best cooks I have the pleasure to count among my friends. It’s always a joy to be in her house with her family and her food. Cristina comes from Emilia, Borgo Taro, specifically which is home to the mushroom. In fact some of the best meals I have had in Italy with mushrooms have been at their houses.

We’ve been friends since 1998 and I went to my first Cantine Aperte  with them to Alba. I had my first Barolo from Oddero and my first Brasato al Barolo with Cri and Giuli, other moments that remain in my heart. Here in the Boggiali house in Rome in the incredible neighborhood of San Saba, I have rediscovered the joy of being with old friends once again and spending time with 2, 8 and 10 year olds and their passions. For years I have visited Cristina and Giuliano in Rome, in Milan, in Levanto, and in Gressoney. Always welcoming and generous, I also was first introduced to wines from the Valle d’Aosta, Donnas Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle ,   with them and the particular varieties from their area of Liguria, Levanto, wines I love from Colli di Luni.

All of these wine and food discoveries have been part of the conversation and experience but never the main event, perhaps that is why I never realized just how many things they have introduced me to during the course of our long friendship. In just two days in Rome, I feel completely back to myself, my Italian life and of course more enamored than ever of this eternal city. Happy that I am just at the beginning of my trip, I may have to leave Rome soon otherwise my friends will have a guest “a vita.”

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Filed under emilia romagna, Friends/Family, Italian Delicacies, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian recipes, Italian regions, Italian Restaurants, Italian wineries, lazio, Liguria, Memorable Events, Piedmont, Sommeliers, Travel, Valle d'Aosta, wines