Italy is one of the largest wine producers in the world. There are over 300 indigenous grape varieties in Italy, two dozen regions and more than 500 wine-growing zones, each of them offers quality wine to suit any taste. And one of the key role in the Italian wine industry is played by the central region named Lazio, which includes Rome. So, what wine in Rome should you try when travelling in the Eternal City? Let's see...
Winemaking on the Apennine Peninsula has been known since the time of the Etruscans: VIII century BC. For example, 2000 years ago, there were already vines cultivated on the territory of modern Tuscany. The Roman Empire also encouraged winemaking that in the Middle Ages was in the hands of the church. Over time, wine has become an integral part of Italian culture, and wine-growing areas have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. But only at the end of the 20th century, the industry began to expand abroad and gained worldwide recognition.
Italian legislation is quite conservative and strictly regulates the technology of wine production in each appellation (a wine's place of origin). Sometimes the slightest change in the blend or technology can lead to the declassification of the wine. Therefore, in premium wine lines, large producers can have both top-level wines (DOCG) and regional (IGT) wines, which will be in the same price category and do not differ in quality.
Vino da Tavola (VdT) - more simple table wines. They are produced from Italian grapes but their origin is not regulated.
Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) - wines produced in a specific area according to unified standards. It's the category for innovative wines that do not fit into the conservative standards of other appellations.
Denominazione d'Origine Controllata (DOC / DOP) - wines of controlled origin, tested for a number of quality characteristics: varieties, place of growth, and technology.
Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) - wines of controlled and guaranteed origin, which have the best quality and reputation. The category is assigned to DOC wines if a number of conditions are met.
Riserva - wines that aged longer than the legal minimum for their category (and for wines it's...the older the better).
Superiore - wines made from grapes of higher maturity, full bodied and strong. These will always be more expensive in their category.
Lazio is a region of white wine. It produces the best white wine from the oldest cultivated grape varieties - Malvasia and Trebbiano, which occupy more than half the area of local vineyards. Malvasia is a white grape that has been grown here for two thousand years. It was most likely brought to Italy from Greece. Trebbiano grape is no less ancient and was already known in the time of Etruscans (a civilization that existed there before Rome). Despite the predominance of white varieties, which account for 90% of finished products, red grapes in Lazio grow as well.
The leading wine region in Lazio is Castelli Romani. Landscapes of these lands were formed due to volcanic activity. The extinct craters are now water bodies, and the soil is great for growing grapes.
Perhaps the most famous wine of this part of Lazio is Frascati. A young and tender drink, the aftertaste of which is filled with hints of almond, pear and citrus, and the aroma is bright and original, with notes of walnut, peach, pineapple and tropical fruits. The Frascati blend contains malvasia, trebbiano and bonvino varieties. The main producer of wine is Colli di Catone. Previously, to try Frascati, you had to come to Italy, because wine is very moody for a long transportation. Now, modern wine-making technologies have solved this problem.
Another famous Lazio wine region is Tuscia (Tuschia) in the province of Viterbo. Wine began to be produced in these parts in ancient times: three thousand years ago, Etruscans grew grapes here. Now the pride of this area of Lazio is the world famous Est! Est !! Est !!! di Montefiascone. The drink combines such varieties as Trebbiano Tuscany, Malvasia Bianca Tuscany and Roscetto. Est! Est !! Est !!! di Montefiascone has a golden hue and harmonious taste, filled with tart musk, hawthorn fruits and ripe fruity notes.
This wine got is unusual name back in the 12th century. Local legends say that Giovanni Defuc, an Italian bishop, accompanied the English king Henry V. on a trip. Giovanni sent his page forward to report on the arrival of the royal lady and to find a hotel where they would serve the best wine in all of Italy. The doors of the hotels where the wine was suitable in quality, the servant should have marked with the inscription Est, which in Latin means "eat". The wine in the small village of Montefiascone was so exquisite and unlike anything else that he had ever tried a page that he could not resist and wrote the word three times, putting an exclamation mark after each.
70 kilometers to the south of Rome, there is a province of Latina, a part of Lazio. Local landscapes were not very suitable for growing grapes, since they were impenetrable swamps. But at the beginning of the 20th century they were drained and red varieties of wine grapes were grown here. Latria's foremost area is Aprilia, where the famous Merlot di Aprilia, a pomegranate wine with a slightly grassy taste, is produced.