The region around Rome is known as Lazio, and it’s full of grapes and subregions> you’ve most likely never heard of. I can remember traveling in Italy with my sister in the summer of 1987 and landing in Frascati with the son of the proprietor who ran the little hotel we were staying at in Rome and his friend, Dario. They took us in a tiny, navy blue Fiat up to this lookout point in the hills surrounding Rome. It was sort of a cross between a German biergarten (with the hanging lights and picnic tables) and lots of delicious Italian food trucks. We loaded up on several share plates, got a pitcher of Frascati and had dinner overlooking Rome… one of the best memories of that trip! It’s only now that I’m in the wine business, that I know that Frascati is in Lazio and that it’s smack in between Rome and Cori, a village about an hour and a half southeast of Rome.
Most wines from Lazio don’t make it out of Lazio (including Frascati!), but J. Strecker Selections (our direct import company) has a new line from a co-op in the village of Cori and the surrounding vineyards. All three wines are lesser-known indigenous varietals (Bellone, Nero Buono & a Nero Buono blend) showing off the wonderful work coming from this area.
First a little on Cori and this co-op:
Located about 90 minutes southeast of Rome (1 hour on the highway), the ancient town of Cori (with urban structures dating from the 5–6th centuries BC) is set among the olive groves and vineyards in the foothills of the Lepini Mountains. The village of Cori is pictured above; the winery, also located in Cori, is pictured below. As you can imagine, this town is permeated with ancient and medieval history. The winery gives the two wines in this month’s club the symbolic names of Castore & Pollùce in honor of the Temple of Castor and Pollux.
Using the stamp: CINCINNATO MCMXLVII, Cooperativa Agricola Cincinnato was formed by a group of local farmers on the 13th of June 1947, with the purpose of processing and selling their own production. They named themselves in honor of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, who led the Romans in battle against the Aequi in 458 BC. Following his victory, he refused honors and public offices in Rome, preferring to return to his land, which is said to have been in this area of Lazio.
Cincinnato currently has 550 hectares of land (100 of which are certified organic), and 130 member families committed to growing native grapes. The winery is also renowned for its environmental efforts including organic methods in the vineyards, a solar power system for independent power generation, and local distribution using natural gas-fueled vehicles.
Here’s a little about the 3 new wines:
Cincinnato 2017 “Castore” Bellone
Lazio, Italy // Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
100% Bellone. This white grape is grown in volcanic-clayey soil in the hills around Cori. It’s a brilliant straw yellow color with a delicate fruity nose, full of yellow peach & hawthorn. Fresh with mineral notes on the palate, it’s a delicious refreshing sipper (while you cook) or enjoy it with pasta and seafood dishes. Drink now to 2 years.
Cincinnato 2016 “Pollùce” Nero Buono
Lazio, Italy // Reg $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
100% Nero Buono (vineyards pictured). Similar to the Bellone, the vineyards are located on the lavic hills around Cori. Aged for 12 months in stainless steel tanks then refined in bottle for 6 months before being released. Ruby red in color. Intense, fragrant nose full of red fruits — strawberries, red plums, bing cherries. Faint notes of leather and earth bookend the pleasant fruitiness of this wine. It’s not too acidic nor too tannic. Wonderful to sip and equally delicious with food. Enjoy with Bucatini all’Amatriciana, dishes with Roman gnochi, artichokes, oxtail stew and more. Drink now to 3 years.
Cincinnato 2016 “Raverosse” Cori Blend
Lazio, Italy // Reg $18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19
This wine is a blend of 50% Nero Buono di Cori (vineyards pictured) – 30% Montepulciano – 20% Cesanese. Note: Cesanese is a red grape variety originating in the Lazio region, featuring medium-sized, compact clusters with small berries. It yields a fragrant, velvety smooth wine. The blend has intense aromas of blueberries, raspberries & plum. Ripe aromas of blackberries, plums & Italian herbs. Medium-bodied and silky smooth. Ripe blue and black fruit flavors with peppery notes. Finishes long with hints of balsamic and herbs. Fine tannins. Jens says you can’t start the year with a more interesting wine! Pairings? Wouldn’t overpower a delicious homemade spaghetti alla carbonara but it could hold its own with something meatier such as oxtail stew. Drink now to 5 years.
These wines are great way to go wine exploring in the new year!
Cheers to 2019!
Julie Howe, Owner
Portalis Wine Shop & J. Strecker Selections