Friday, 24 May 2013

Frascati Wine Tasting from Rome

A couple of posts ago I already mentioned a great wine tasting experience we had while in Rome, Italy. We really enjoyed it and decided to do another similar thing. Since not many such opportunities are available in Rome, we chose to go outside the city.

I saw the fact this wine tasting was taking place in hills not far away from Rome as an opportunity for a getaway trip from the city. Since this time we were not travelling by a car I looked at our options and decided a guided tour might be our best choice. Since usually we are not too fond of mass guided tours I really looked into it before booking.
It was not long before I realized Frascati Wine Tasting Tour from Rome was what we were looking for. We liked the fact that pickup and drop-off in the center of Rome was taken care of as a part of this tour.

We started the trip from our meeting point at Piazza Re di Roma. Since it is not a very busy square but still has good public transportation connections it was just perfect. As our group of 16 random wine enthusiasts gathered, it started raining. Since I was hoping for a few nice photos I was not too happy with that.

During about an hour long drive to Frascati hills our guide for the afternoon shared some interesting facts about the history of wine. In the meantime rain picked up but eased to a drizzle just upon our arrival. It did not bother us too much during the tour of the winery. Unfortunately weather was far from ideal for photography.

The Principe Pallavicini winery is the largest privately owned vineyard dedicated to production of Frascati, boasting 50 hectares of white Frascati DOC grapes. They have 80 hectare of vines in total.
The place has been renovated but still has lots of original character since new buildings have been perfectly integrated with the ancient ones. A section of an authentic Roman subterranean aqueduct serves as a charming cellar and antique stables are now used for drying grapes.

After the tour of the estate we continued to Osteria della Colonna for the actual wine tasting. The tasting was led by Mauro de Angelis, Principe Pallavicini's agronomist and wine connoisseur. Our guide Massimo took care of necessary translations between Italian and English.

We got to taste four of Principe Pallavicini's many excellent wines :

  • Poggio Verde 2012, Frascati DOCG Superiore. Grape variety: Malvasia di Candia (50%), Malvasia del Lazio (20%), Trebbiano Toscano (10%), Greco e Grechetto (20%).
  • Soleggio 2010, Lazio IGT. Grape variety: Cabernet Sauvignon (100%).
  • Casa Romana 2006, Lazio IGT. Grape variety: Petit Verdot (60%), Cabernet (40%).
  • Stillato 2011, Lazio IGT. Grape variety: Malvasia del Lazio aka Malvasia Puntinata (100%).

All of the wines we tasted were really great - each one in its own way. First was a dry white, quite typical for the region but the carefully chosen grape variety contributed a special note to it. The Cabernet Sauvignon was good but not all that special - the 2010 we tasted still has plenty of time to mature. The last two were definitely special and worth taking home - Casa Romana 2006 is a perfectly mature dry red with complex flavour and lasting aftertaste, while Stillato on the other hand is a macerated white desert wine with perfectly interwoven flavours.

During the wine tasting we also had an opportunity to taste some locally produced olive oil. It was quite mild (not as spicy as are most Sicilian varieties) and very delicious. As was the case with wine, we could also buy some olive oil.

As you have probably guessed by now, we enjoyed this wine tasting experience a lot. In my opinion it was just the right combination of things. Our guide was really knowledgeable and shared interesting information about local wine history, the chosen location (the estate of Principe Pallavicini) delivered just what one would expect from a place with centuries of history and finally, the wine we got to taste was excellent.

During this tour we were also offered to join the same company on a full day trip to Tuscany which also includes a wine tasting. Since we have been to Tuscany many times before, we decided to skip it.


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Dusty wine cellar


Monday, 20 May 2013

Wine tasting in Rome

If you are a frequent visitor to this blog or even know M. and me in person, you probably know we love to drink a good glass of wine once in a while. That is why we also see every trip as an opportunity to widen our wine-tasting horizons and try some local wines.

Since Italy is among the top class wine producers of the world we thought there would be many opportunities for some serious wine tasting when in Rome. In spite of Rome being the capital of the country, it is definitely not its wine capital.

As we learned during our visit, there are a few wine producers based in the nearby hills and the whole Lazio region is home to roughly 30 DOC titles. Three of them really stand out: Castelli Romani, Frascati and Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone. Local wine producers are mostly famous for their dry whites.

Our idea was to join a guided wine tasting where we could bump our amateur wine knowledge up a notch, learn a thing or two about local wines and taste some great wine samples in the process. I expected to find many companies and wine bars offering such tastings but to my amazement I could only find a small variation of suitable offers.
One of them is Vino Roma with a wine studio located just minutes from the Colosseum on Via In Selci 84/G.

We booked their My Italians wine tasting and were not disappointed. It was not so much locally oriented as we would have liked but since this particular tasting is advertised as "an overview of Italian wines", it was pretty much expected.

The tasting was led by a sommelier speaking perfect English (he is actually an American living in Rome) and he took that night's group of 6 wine enthusiasts on a great wine trip around Italy. Everybody else but M. and me were Americans. After speaking with some of them about European wine prices across the Atlantic our guess was that visitors from the US might be quite frequent at such events.

In the tasting we got to sample a variety of six wines from various Italian wine regions. This is our wine list of the evening:

  • Zamo Bianco 2011, produced by Le Vigne di Zamo in the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia (Venezia Giulia IGT). Grape varieties: Ribolla Gialla, Friulano, Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Trebbiano Spoletino 2011, produced by Antonelli in the region of Umbria (Umbria Bianco IGT). Grape variety: Trebbiano Spoletino.
  • Greco di Tufo 2010, produced by Dell'Angelo in the region of Campania (Greco di Tufo DOP - DOCG). Grape variety: Greco.
  • Vigna del Forno 2010, produced by Cascina Gilli in the region of Piemonte (Freisa d'Astri DOC). Grape variety: Freisa.
  • Malandrino 2010, produced by Cataldi Madonna in the region of Abruzzo (Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC). Grape variety: Montepulciano.
  • Caselle Riserva 2006, produced by D'Angelo in the region of Basilicata (Aglianico del Vulture DOC). Grape variety: Aglianico.

Although this wine tasting was not cheap by our standards, we still thought it was very good value. Wines were not all that special but we liked most of them (Greco di Tufo and Caselle Riserva were our favourites).

We felt the real value was in the knowledge passed to us - there were moments when it felt like an excellent wine tasting school. In my opinion the event was just that - an enjoyable wine school evening. Among other things we have also learned how to guess the age of wine and the amount of alcohol in it by just looking at the glass. The sommelier in charge of the tasting was really knowledgeable and could basically answer all of our questions.

The atmosphere was really relaxed and I think it is fair to say everyone was really happy in the end. We definitely enjoyed the two and a half hour event. If you are curious about a particular wine from the above selection, you are welcome to leave a question in the comments section below the post.

Since we liked this wine tasting so much, we decided to also try a little different approach and taste some local wine directly at the source. That is why we also visited one of the famous local producers at the very place, where the (wine) magic happens - their wine cellars in the hills just outside Rome.

You can read more about our visit to the Frascati region in one of our next posts.

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