Rome, the eternal city, with its vast number of tourists and inhabitants, consumes much of the wine produced in the 3 DOCGs, 26 DOCs and 6 IGTs of Lazio, the region which surrounds it. With about three-quarters of its territory being hilly or mountainous, thus tempering the heat, Lazio is well-suited for viticulture and, although there are no wineries in Rome, Italy’s capital, there are historic wine-making regions for the thirsty wine explorer within easy-striking distance of the capital.
Wineries near Rome, Italy, can already be found just a short distance away down the ancient Via Appia. Heading just a dozen or so miles into the verdant green hills and landscapes dotted with olive groves, you will reach the Castelli Romani. This collection of 14 villages, including Castel Gandolfo which houses the pope’s summer residence, was historically the refuge from Rome for nobility both from the summer heat and in times of economic and political turmoil. On a clear day, Rome can be clearly seen on the plain below, it’s so close.
Wineries near Rome are now starting to rediscover the charms of this delicately aromatic red wine. One winery near Rome, Principe Pallavicini, one of the oldest wineries in the Frascati region, also produces several single varietal Cesanese if you don’t make it out to Piglio.
With the cooling influences of an altitude of 260 – 365m and the sea just twelve miles to the west, the Colli Albani, a landscape created as a result of a collapsed volcano, has been been producing wines since at least 5 BC, even before the expansion of ancient Rome. Wineries are often located near lakes, whose influence along with rivers and humid currents also allow noble rot to form easily, to enable the production of Canellino di Frascati, a sweet wine partially made from botrytised grapes, much more famous in the past. It is made from the same varieties as Frascati, perhaps the most well-known of the Castelli Romani, that is two types of Malvasia and two kinds of Trebbiano. Frascati is home to two of Lazio’s DOCGs – Canellino di Frascati and Frascati Superiore. Nowadays, the wines from the region are generally crisp, dry white wines, although sparkling is also produced.
White wine accounts for 85% of white wine production in the region, and while Castelli Romani, located on the volcanic soil and lava tufa of Colli Albani, provides the majority of wine quaffed in the trattorias of Rome, wineries can also be found further afield in Cervetri north of Rome on the coast and in Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone, close to the Umbrian border. Legend has it that a German bishop on his way to Rome sent a scout ahead to find inns with good wine, instructing him to write Est! on the doors of such establishments, one was reputatedly so good, that he wrote Est! Est!! Est!!!, and the name stuck. Although a dry wine from Malvasia and Trebbiano nowadays, at that time, it was most likely a sweet wine, probably from Moscato. Today, the region is denominated by just one winery.
Rome also provides a good starting point to explore the red wine territory of Cesanese di Piglio, located further east, and the third of Lazio’s DOCGs. Although having fallen into obscurity in recent years, Cesanese is perhaps the most typical local red variety. Wineries near Rome are now starting to rediscover the charms of this delicately aromatic red wine. One winery near Rome, Principe Pallavicini, one of the oldest wineries in the Frascati region, also produces several single varietal Cesanese if you don’t make it out to Piglio. Incidentally the winery building dates back to the 17th century and features historic vineyards, some of which, over fifty years old, are on their own roots, a medieval tower and ancient caves, typical to many wineries in the region.
So, while you are not really able to explore wineries in Rome itself, you don’t have to go far into the verdant countryside to find refreshing crisp whites and light reds, and to escape Rome’s stifling summer heat.
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