Spring is the season of rebirth, and what better place to visualize this time of year than Lazio, the region that is the geographic center of the Italian peninsula. In Roma, the regional and national capital, the terraces of each house of the old town appear to be a flower shop display. The air starts to change as the many birds that are coming back from south cross the skies. Outside the eternal city, the hills are calling to get out of your home and immerse yourself in the countryside.
Lazio is not at the top of the list of sought-after wine regions by consumers, but like many other overlooked regions, things are changing here. This month we are going to visit two producers that could not be as different from each other, but both are very animated and have the same passion for their territory. One is a prince; descendant from an old aristocratic Roman family, the other is a woman; daughter of a long dynasty of farmers.
Elio Longobardi, Italian Wine Specialist
PlumpJack Wine & Spirits – Noe Valley
About the Winery: Located just a few kilometers from the center of Rome, Italy’s historic Tenuta di Fiorano resides between the Appian Way and the slopes of the Alban Hills. As a pioneer of organic viticulture in the mid-twentieth century, Fiorano continues the family traditions today.
The Tenuta di Fiorano estate is now owned by Prince Alessandrojacopo Boncompagna Ludovisi, who grew up on the property and was taught winemaking by his uncle, Prince Alberico, who passed away in 2005.
Since Alberico’s death, Alessandrojacopo has been in full control of the 200-hectare estate that also has olive groves, cropland and pastures.
About the Winemaking: Everything is done strictly according to organic principles, from the cultivation of the grapes right through to the making of the wine, under the supervision of Alberico’s steward and trusted farm hand Gianni Valenti. The grapes are still picked and pressed by hand. The wine is fermented in the Vecchia Cantina (Old Cellar), after which the wine is moved to the Cantina Storica (Historic Cellar), where it first ages in old barrels of Slavonian oak and later at length in the bottle.
This bottle is a blend of Grechetto and Viogner. Those are the only white grapes cultivated in the estate.
Tasting Notes: Straw yellow with golden reflections in glass. The bouquet is an elegant array of wild spring flowers and fruit, with prominent notes of mango, banana and golden apple. The taste confirms those sensations with a long persistent finish.
About the Winery: The winery is in the little town of Piglio, an hour southwest of Rome, by the foot of the Apennine mountains. In 2009, Maria and her brother decided it was time to revive the family's roots. They produced a wine from this vineyard site called l'Onda (the wave), as it announced the next wave of winemakers in the Massimi family. They have been slowly recuperating some of the family's historic parcels and renting other quality sites. Berucci is looking especially for old vines planted in Cesanese di Affile, a strain that produces a noticeably smaller, less compact bunch than the vine known as Cesanese Comune. They now are working 2.5 hectares of vines.
About the Winemaking: Maria Ernesta says about her winemaking method: “We follow a natural and organic approach from the beginning without any chemical help, and I strive to make wine in a simple and direct way. We apply the same philosophy in the cellar through the spontaneous fermentation of musts, without the addition of selected yeasts, adjuvants, sulphites or other enzymes. All wines have <30 mg/liter of sulfites, and in the best harvests have no sulfites added. From 2015 harvest with my husband Geminiano, we are following an holo – homeopathic (or agro-homeopathy) approach in the vineyard.”
The Rosso is a blend of the two local strains of the indigenous Cesanese grape, Cesanese di Affile and Cesanese Comune, both vinified and aged 8 months in Slavonian oak barrels.
Tasting Notes: Light red garnet in color. Earthy and bready tones at the nose with whiffs of tomato, red pepper and carnation. Fresh and clean to the palate, with a country charming flavor. A wine that ask to be drunk in appreciation of simple things in life.
Rigatoni con broccoli romaneschi
(Rigatoni pasta with Romanesco broccoli)
INGREDIENTS (serving 4)
6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 large head broccolo romanesco
400 g rigatoni pasta
1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese grated
1 small pepperoncino (chile pepper)
Salt & Pepper
1. Rinse and cut the romanesco in florets shape
2. Bring the water to boil in a medium sized pot, adding a generous pinch of rock salt
3. Blanch the romanesco broccoli for 3 minutes, then remove and set aside, saving the water in the pot
4. Add the rigatoni to the boiling water and cook al dente
5. While the pasta is cooking, finely chop the garlic and the pepperoncino
6. Pour the oil in a sauté pan and add the garlic and pepperonico mix when oil is hot, then and the romanesco
7. When the pasta is cooked, add to the romanesco and sauté, adding ½ cup of the pasta water
8. Turn off the flame and add the cheese mixing until all the pasta is coated and creamy