Historically, the region of Lazio has often been seen as the black sheep of Italy in regards to wine production as its wines have never been extremely fashionable but, most recently, things have changed and quality has improved strongly. Unfortunately most of the these wines are still difficult to be found abroad and this is the reason why we have decided to share a bit of knowledge on the local wines you may taste during your vacations.
We are going to start with an indigenous grape: Malvasia del Lazio.
This variety is part of a wider family originating from the Peloponnesus. Its name comes from Monembasia, a hilltop Byzantine fortress in an area where the grape was used for the production of sweet wines. The wines were then traded in the rest of Europe and became quite fashionable in Venice where the name was stretched to Malvasia. But the specific Malvasia we are talking about arrived in Lazio only in the 19th century thanks to Genoese merchants.
The grape, also known as Puntinata, expresses at its best on hilltops sides and well drained soils. It is prone to diseases and traditionally has been often blended with other varieties to increase its acidity but with the new waive of quality focused producers in the region, major replanting of this variety has happened resulting an increase of varietal wines. Malvasia del Lazio is mainly grown in the Castelli Romani area and more precisely in Frascati but it’s part of many DOC of the region, including the light and refreshing Capena Bianco Secco produced in the vineyards around our houses.
The wine tends to have a golden deep colour with aromatic notes and a light musky pungency. In the mouth it shows notes of apricot, a light acidity and a soft medium body. In its dry versions it goes perfectly with the tipical Roman primi piatti; pasta alla gricia, pasta cacao e pepe or carbonara, but it also pairs extremely well with carciofi alla romana and chilled it can be a lovely aperitif on its own. It also produces extremely delicate sweet wines.
A few interesting producers: Castel De Paolis, Poggio Le Volpi & L’Olivella.