Rome’s region is intrinsically linked to white wine, to Frascati and Marino and the other golden-hued bianchi of the Castelli Romani, as well as to the fabled Est! Est!! Est!!! from the northern Latium town of Montefiascone. Although white wine accounts for an overwhelming share of the region’s production, certain of its red wines seem more convincing to connoisseurs.
Latium’s hills, favored by ample sunshine on fertile volcanic soils, seem to be naturally suited to the production of white wines based on various types of Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes. Rome’s wines were traditionally abboccato, pleasingly soft though not so sweet as to overwhelm the flavor of food. The use of low temperature processing and sterile filtration have transformed their personalities into dryer, crisper, more durable wines. Still, the whites of Latium are pleasantly fleshy and fruity wines that go enticingly well with a great range of foods.Their immediacy is by no means a negative attribute.
Though some admirers argue that the richer, stronger abboccato or cannellino versions are what Malvasia is all about, most modern consumers seem to prefer them softly dry. Latium’s DOC reds vary in composition. Aprilia turns out considerable quantities of Merlot and Sangiovese. The reds of Cerveteri, Cori and Velletri are based on Montepulciano and Sangiovese. The native Cesanese makes richly flavored dry and sweet reds in the three DOC zones of the Prenestina and Ciociaria hills southeast of Rome. Aleatico makes a Port-like dessert wine on the northern shores of Lake Bolsena at Gradoli. Cabernet and Merlot are the stars of a number of highly praised modern reds of Latium which prove that the fortunes of premium wine production are not confined to whites.