Italian Wine Regions - Quattrocalici
Table of Contents for the Latium Region
The Latium Wine Region
Main Article Contents
The Lazio (Latium) wine region
The Latium (in Italian, Lazio) region’s vineyard surface is about 28,000 hectares, so definitely an extension of all respect, producing more than 2 million hectoliters of wine . Lazio is for 50% hilly and the remaining part is half plain and half mountainous areas. The vineyards are therefore located for 70% on hills and 30% in plain areas. Lazio has therefore a mixed territory, with volcanic soils, lakes, hilly areas and reclaimed plains (Agro Pontino), resulting in very different wine styles. Lazio produces mostly white wines, one of all Frascati, the first DOCG in Italy. The Cesanese with the DOCG Cesanese del Piglio is an excellence among red wines. Other exclusive Latium wines are the Moscato di Terracina, the Aleatico di Gradoli, the Est! East!! Est !!! di Montefiascone and many others.
Viticulture in Lazio
Typical in Lazio is the ubiquitous family wine production, mostly intended for self-consumption. After the phylloxera crisis, at the beginning of the modern viticultural era, in Lazio as anywhere else the tendency was to produce large quantities of low quality wine, to satisfy market demand. Indeed the modernization mainly concerned the industrial sized wineries, leaving the smaller producers aside. Fortunately things are changing now, although the evolution of viticulture is moving with a really slow pace. Today, some growers have chosen to focus on excellence wines by using the potential of native grapes. The most used training systems for vine growing farming has shifted away from the traditional Pergola to the farms to Guyot or Cordon. In some areas of the Castelli Romani and Lower Lazio in some cases grapes still grow on “living supports”, “married” to trees or woven reeds, named “canocchie“.
The grape varieties in Lazio
Among the black berry grapes, Montepulciano, Ciliegiolo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and in some cases even Barbera, being the most important native grape variety for sure the Cesanese, basis for wines of absolute excellence. The white wines are obtained especially with Malvasie and Trebbiani varieties, among which the Malvasia Bianca Lunga, Malvasia bianca di Candia, Malvasia del Lazio (with the clones Bellone, Cacchione and Bonvino), Trebbiano Giallo, Trebbiano Toscano and Trebbiano del Lazio. The Grechetto is grown mainly in area of Viterbo province on the border with the Umbria region.
The wine producion areas in Lazio
The most important wine area of Lazio are the hills at the south-east of Rome, known as Castelli Romani where the landscape is dotted with medieval villages and villas, vineyards and woods. Here white grape varieties as Malvasia del Lazio and Trebbiano giallo, Bellone and other local varieties are dominant. Among those in red grapes Cesanese, Sangiovese and Montepulciano, Merlot, Ciliegiolo and Bombino Nero. The Castelli Romani DOC is the reference for this area, others are the Montecompatri Colonna DOC, Zagarolo DOC, Cori DOC and others.
The area located between Rome and Frosinone, named Ciociaria, there is dominated by the Cesanese, autochthonous black berry grape giving red wines of great structure, as the Cesanese del Piglio DOCG, Cesanese di Affile DOC and Cesanese di Olevano Romano DOC. Cesanese is often found together with Barbera, Montepulciano and Sangiovese. The fourth appellation of the area is the Genazzano DOC, with both white and red wines.
In the province of Latina dominate red wines, such as the ones of Aprilia DOC. In coastal area ranging from Latina to Terracina there is the appellation Circeo DOC, whose name referes to the promontory which characterizes its landscape.
In the volcanic soils of the Viterbo province mainly white grapes are to be found, like Trebbiano Toscano and Trebbiano giallo, Malvasia puntinata (del Lazio). The most famous local wine is the Est! East!! Est !!! di Montefiascone DOC. Among the red wines the Aleatico Gradoli DOC. The other two appellations in the area are the Tarquinia DOC and Cerveteri DOC (province of Rome).
The vineyards of the Rieti province are located on the foothills of the Apennines. The Colli della Sabina DOC is shared with the province of Rome and includes almost the entire right bank of the rivere Tiber.
The Appellations of Origin of Lazio
The hilly areas of Lazio giveimportant wines such as Cesanese del Piglio DOCG, the Cannellino di Frascati DOCG and Frascati Superiore DOCG. Trebbiano and Malvasia are also the grapes of the Est!! Est!! Est!! di Montefiascone DOC wine. In the area of Cerveteri (Cerveteri DOC), the hills near the sea north of Rome, white wines are mainly obtained from Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes. Towards Frosinone, in the area of Affile (Cesanese di Affile DOC) and Olevano Romano (Cesanese Olevano Roman DOC), important red wines are made from Cesanese grapes, with the two DOCs flanking the aforementioned DOCG. Other imporant wine regions are the Frascati one (Frascati DOC, and Frascati superiore DOCG , Colli Albani DOC, Castelli Romani DOC, all along the hills line to the south of Rome. In Lazio the total count is 3 DOCGs and 26 DOCs (in addition to 6 IGTs). The agri-food appellations count 11 PDOs and 8 PGIs, the most notorious ones being the Ricotta Romana DOP and the Abbacchio Romano PGI.
The traditional cuisine of Lazio
The gastronomic tradition of Lazio is often identified with the Rome’s cuisine, although many dishes actually come from different parts of the region. For example, the spaghetti all’amatriciana from Amatrice, in the province of Rieti. Many dishes are inspired by the traditions of Jewish cuisine, like the famous artichokes Jewish way. Typical of the region is the great inventiveness in creating recipes with what was considered “waste” in the kitchens of nobles. “the more you spend the worse you eat” is a common way of saying … In Lazio the traditional cuisine makes thus extensive use of the so-called fifth quarter, ie head, entrails, legs, etc.
Among the pasta dishes, the bucatini amatriciana and rigatoni carbonara are definitely among the top most famous regional dishes. The amatriciana sauce is a tomato sauce with onions, bacon and the always present pecorino romano. The carbonara is a white sauce with cheese, pepper, eggs and bacon. We also remember the penne all’arrabbiata (with a very spicy amatriciana sauce) and spaghetti alla gricia (white amatriciana). Then the rigatoni con la pajat, ie calf entrails, the risotto alla romana (prepared with marsala wine) and the fettuccine alla romana, with tomato and mushrooms. The fettuccine alla ciociara, with mushrooms, peas, bacon and white meat sauce, the pasta alla carrettiera, with tuna added to the traditional fried fungi and bacon. The rigatoni alla vaccinara, with oxtail sauce. The Fregnacce alla Sabinese, a sort of egg maltagliati with porcini mushrooms and black olives sauce or “alla Castelnuovo“, with a red pepper and marjoram pesto sauce. Finally, the Gnocchi alla Romana, au gratin, and the Timballo alla ciociara, stuffed with mozzarella and mixed chopped meat. Among the soups the of escarole and beans soup, the Stracciatella alla Romana, with egg, porridge and cheese, the fresh bean soup with bacon and beans and pork rind.
The Roman cuisine is also characterized by many tasty main courses. The famous saltimbocca alla romana,with veal, ham, sage and oxtail (stewed Oxtail). The Abbacchio is a suckling lamb (from the Latin “ad baculum“, that is “tied to the stake”, so they tied the animals), roast cooked with aromas, the lamb chops “alla scottadito“, the lamb “alla romana“, with spices, vinegar and kidneys, the lamb “brodettato” with flour, wine and onions, the lamb “alla cacciatora“, larded and with anchovies. Among the pork dishes, the spare-ribs and the famous Porchetta di Ariccia.
Characteristic of Lazio are appetizers such as bruschetta, the crostini with anchovies, the fried pumpkin flowers, with heart anchovy. Among the side dishes, the cicoria salad, the salad Misticanza with various lettuces, apples, pine nuts and walnuts, the salad with veal nerves, the cicoria ripassata.
Among the desserts to be mentioned, the pangiallo, a kind of round saffron bread, prepared with flour, fruit dried, candied fruit and chocolate. The pupazze from Frascati, biscuits shaped like women, prepared with a large quantity of honey and orange flavor; the grattachecca is a granita with fruits flavored syrups. The maritozzi are soft padded cream puffs.