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WSET Diploma: Unit 3: Italy > Lazio > Flashcards

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Frascati DOC

Fresh, clean white wine, simple and low priced. Malvasia dominant grape in the blend with trebbiano.



The region known as Latium in English, the ancient homeland of the Latins, the seat of Italy’s government and administration in the capital, Rome, and the large igt Lazio covering the entire region. The region’s total area of vineyard has declined considerably, to not much more than 17,000 ha/42,000 acres by the early 2010s. More than a third of the total Lazio vineyard is now dedicated to making doc wine. White wines, almost exclusively from malvasia and trebbiano Toscano grapes, represent the majority of Lazio’s total vinous output, with the wines of the castelli romani representing by far the majority, although this DOC, like most of Lazio’s 27 DOCs, has a provision for the production of red wines based on Sangiovese and Montepulciano as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Malvasia and Trebbiano blends are also produced in quantity in the DOC zones of Cerveteri and Est!Est!!Est!!!, as well as in Lazio’s most famous DOC, frascati. Lazio has no significant red DOCs although an occasional good-quality red is made, usually in the image of red bordeaux, by some of the region’s best estates. Examples include Falesco, where Riccardo cotarella makes the widely admired Montiano; the legendary Boncompagni Ludovisi estate near Rome that belongs to Piero antinori’s wife; the Di Mauro estate in Marino; and the newer Castel De Paolis estate in Grottaferrata. Most of these reds from international varieties are labelled IGT Lazio, while the DOC Cori, based on the local Nero Buono di Cori grape, and the DOC Cesanese di Affile and the DOCG Cesanese del Piglio based on cesanese grapes, are the only truly local reds. While high-quality Cori and Cesanese wines are still in the minority, Cesanese in particular has shown promise.



Lazio’s most famous doc, of which it has become regrettably difficult to find examples of ageworthy and complex white wine. Named after the town of Frascati immediately east from Rome, the wine was for centuries based on the local malvasia del Lazio (a cross between muscat of alexandria and schiava Grossa) which imparted a light Muscat note to the wine. Since the 1960s up to 30% of the high yielding trebbiano Toscana could be included, which has diluted its character to that of a rather neutral white for everyday drinking, of which most is absorbed by Rome and its many tourists. The expanding suburbs of Rome have slowly crept up on Frascati’s vineyards, but despite this continuing decline in producing area, to 839 ha/2,205 acres in 2012, they still managed to produce some 95,000 hl of wine. This exceptionally high average yield of 112 hl/ha has done little to achieve either more character in or higher prices for the wine. In an effort to improve the situation, the entire zone was elevated to docg for Frascati Superiore, for which the production regulations demand lower yields (11 tonnes/ha rather than the 14 tonnes/ha for plain Frascati), and with a higher mininum alcohol of 11.5% (rather than 11%), implying, at least in theory, a wine made from riper grapes with more extract. The traditional sweet version of Frascati, Cannellino di Frascati, was also elevated to DOCG level. Although in the past this was merely a medium-sweet wine, the 2011 regulations stipulate a higher alcohol level and that grapes must be at least late harvested. They may also undergo partial drying, while the minimum residual sugar must be at least 35g/l. Oak ageing is explicitly allowed, if not mandatory, for this wine. While Frascati’s production is dominated by large operations, and relative industrial winemaking technology, even the largest of these regularly produce at least one superior bottling based on a higher percentage of Malvasia, often complemented by the local Bellone grape, especially suitable for sweet wines, and greco Bianco, and sometimes barrel fermented. These examples express much more faithfully the original Frascati characteristics, but due to Frascati’s generally modest reputation they have difficulty in finding a market willing to pay the premium. A classic example of true Frascati is the Superiore version of Casal Pilozzo.


Castelli Romani

Extensive doc for the wines of the volcanic hills south east of Rome in the region of lazio which stretch from just outside the city gates (some of the vineyards are in fact within the administrative borders of the city) into the province of Latina, south of the township of Velletri. Nine different docs fall completely or partially within the zone, making Castelli Romani, once known for its malvasia-based whites, more akin to an igt than a carefully delineated vineyard area. Except for the potentially interesting Cori DOC (based on the local bellone for whites and Nero Buono for reds), Colli Lanuvini (whites based on Malvasia and reds on Merlot and Sangiovese), and the recent, rather commercially opportunistic DOC Roma (a canvas for international varieties blended with Malvasia in the case of whites and with Montepulciano for reds), the overwhelming majority of the DOCs are devoted to whites, of which the best known is the generally underperforming frascati. Malvasia is the traditional variety here and Malvasia di Candia is more widely grown than Malvasia di Lazio, principally for its high productivity, although better producers prefer the quality level of the latter. A wide variety of different strains of Trebbiano is also grown (Verde, Giallo, Toscano, Romagnolo, di Soave). High yields—ranging from the 98 hl/ha (7 tons/acre) of the Colli Lanuvini to the more than 115 hl/ha of the Colli Albani and Marino—make many of the discussions of blends and subvarieties purely nugatory; interesting wines from Malvasia and Trebbiano cannot be made at these yields and there is little distinction between the wines of the different DOCs. Over three-quarters of the total production is in the hands of co-operatives, the rest principally in the hands of large commercial wineries. Both have followed a marketing strategy based on high volume and low prices, counting on the advantages of the proximity of the millions of visitors who flock to Rome each year. If the Castelli Romani wines are principally intended for undiscriminating tourists, the character of the wines themselves has changed considerably. Once fermented on their skins, these wines were golden in colour, full in flavour and aroma. The colour deepened as the Malvasia, a variety whose wines oxidize quite rapidly, began to age, and the aromas and flavours followed suit. Modern Castelli Romani wines, from high-yielding vines, cold fermented off the skins, filtered, and stabilized, lack the defects of old but are essentially industrial. Several avant-garde estates in Marino and Frascati are producing good wines from Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier, while there is increasing interest in indigenous varieties. The results have demonstrated that the soil and climate of the Castelli Romani can indeed produce good-quality wines, but few of these wines, self-consciously detached from the history and traditions of the zone, provide a key to resolving the area’s viticultural problems, which, with a severe drop in demand for central Italy’s standard Trebbiano–Malvasia wines, are becoming increasingly acute. This problem is exacerbated by high vineyard land prices, given that the hills are such an attractive place to live for Romans who want to distance themselves from the congestion of the city. For this reason, the total area of vineyard continues to shrink.


Lazio: General

Italy’s 6th biggest producer but in decline; basic grape’s whites & no significant red DOC


Lazio: Climate and Weather

Mediterranean climate w dry hot summers & precipitations mostly in the winter.


Lazio: Red Grape Varieties

- Cabernet
- Merlot
- Celanese :Native red grape w pepper flavour
- Syrah


Lazio: White Grape Varieties

Malvasia: Traditionally blended w Trebbiano for a standard central Italian white

Deep coloured, hi in alcohol

Trebbiano: Used in light, soft dry whites in variety of styles


Lazio: Viticulture and Winemaking

100,000ha w 15% for DOC wine & 2.7m hl/yr production – Italy’s #6 biggest region

Tendone system & high yields contribute to high volumes but lower quality wines


Lazio: Key Appellations and Characteristics

In the North, by Tuscany & Umbria, there is the Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone (Trebbiano&Malvasia)

In the south-east of Rome, there are 3 Cesanese appellations.

Castelli Romani, south-east of Rome, concentrates 7 DOCs and most of the region’s production

Frascati (W)
- 25kms south-east of Rome, in rapid decline
- Malvasia is the dominant grape in the blend w Trebbiano
- The wines are fresh, clean, simple & low priced.
- Key producers: Castel de Paolis w Vigna Adriana Frascati & reds.

Others: Colli Albani (W)