Of Latium's 25 DOC wines, 20 are white. Traditional Latium wines are dry and crisp [source: Italian Made]. They complement the region's justly famous cuisine, which relies on natural flavors, seafood, pork and relatively simple preparations of vegetables [sources: Wein Plus, Winebow].
The best known wines of Latium are, without a doubt, Frascati and Est! Est!! Est!!! Both are whites.
Frascati dates back at least to the Renaissance [source: Wein Plus]. It's best known in its secco (dry) version, which blends Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes for a subtle flavor. A sweet version, called dolce or cannellino, results from high humidity and a vine condition called noble rot [source: Vintage Direct]. That's a nice name for the Botrytis fungus, which produces moldy-looking grapes with high sugar content [source: Novus Vinum]. Frascati is also available in amabile (semisweet) and spumante (sparkling) versions [source: Wein Plus].
Est! Est!! Est!!! got its name from a 12th-century German bishop, Johannes Fugger, who was traveling to visit the pope. As the story goes, the bishop sent a servant ahead to find an inn, and the servant chalked "Est" ("This is it") on the doors of suitable places. At an inn in Montefiascone, the servant was so impressed with the wine that he wrote "Est! Est!! Est!!!" The innkeeper, amused, kept the name, and the bishop wound up moving to Montefiascone [sources: Info Roma, Wein Plus, Vintage Direct].
The wine that made such an impression was probably a sweet Moscato. Today, Est! Est!! Est!!! blends Procanico (Trebbiano Toscano), Malvasia Bianca Toscana and Rossetto (Trebbiano Giallo). It comes in secco, abboccato (off-dry), amabile and spumante versions [source: Wein Plus].
Other Latium whites to try include the Marino DOC, Montecompatri Colonna DOC (similar to Frascati), Orvieto DOC (similar to Est! Est!! Est!!!) or dry Zagarolo DOC [source: Wein Plus]. For a rosé, try one of the many varieties from the large Colli Etruschi Viterbesi (Etruscan Hills) DOC zone [source: Wein Plus].
High concentrations (90 percent to 100 percent) of the rare red Cesanese grapes give the Cesanese di Affile DOC its distinctive bouquet [source: Wein Plus]. The remaining 10 percent of the grapes are also Italian varietals -- Montepulciano, Sangiovese, Barbera or, surprisingly, the white Trebbiano Toscano or Bombino Bianco. Secco, amabile and dolce are popular, but you'd be well advised to try frizzante or spumante for the unusual experience of sparkling red wine [source: Wein Plus].
The Eternal City has a wine for everyone. Sample widely. Better yet, take a trip to Rome and drink the wines in context, amid the ancient hills and the pulsing modern life.
To learn more, visit the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- "Botrytis 101: The Story of the Noble Rot." Novus Vinum. December 8, 2005. (Accessed 1/29/09)http://www.novusvinum.com/features/botrytis.html
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- "Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone DOC." Wein Plus. 2007. (Accessed 1/29/09) http://www.wein-plus.com/italy/Est%21+Est%21%21+Est%21%21%21+di+Montefiascone+DOC_B5889.html
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- "Latium." Promozione Italia. (Accessed 1/29/09) http://www.promozione-italia.com/eng-latium/region-latium.html
- "Latium." Wein Plus. 2007. (Accessed 1/29/09) http://www.wein-plus.com/italy/Latium_A142.html
- "Latium." Winebow. Accessed 1/29/09) http://www.winebow.com/wine_regioninfo.asp?region=10
- "Latium: In Rome's Shadow." Wine Country. (Accessed 1/28/09) http://www.winecountry.it/regions/lazio/index.html
- "Latium (Lazio)." Vintage Direct. (Accessed 1/29/09) http://www.nicks.com.au/index.aspx?link_id=76.1525
- Seach, John. "Volcanoes of Italy: Alban Hills." Volcano Live. (Accessed 1/29/09) http://www.volcanolive.com/alban.html
- "The Wines of Latium." Info Roma. (Accessed 1/29/09) http://www.inforoma.it/feature.php?lookup=wine
- "The Wines of Latium." Italian Made. (Accessed 1/29/09) http://www.italianmade.com/regions/wines12.cfm