With Rome as its city capital in the central peninsula section of Italy, Lazio has become Italy’s second most populated region making the wines of Lazio a particular point of interest for connoisseurs.
It has a reputation for producing fine white wines. Vineyards of Lazio principal grape varieties are Malvasia di Candia, Trebbiano and Malvasia.
History of Lazio Wines
Like most Italian wine regions, traditionally, Lazio’s vine legacy is ancient. Etruscans were the area’s first inhabitants, though Latins gave it the name Latium.
The Romans brought another era to the region by cultivating agriculture and trade. Yet, after the Roman Empire’s downfall, the land became neglected. In the 1870s, when Rome transformed into Italy’s capital, the wine region thrived again.
Falernum is the prominent, classical white wine of ancient times and, long ago, produced in the areas of Rocca di Mondragone and Monte Massico. Today, the Falernum are in native Cecubo and Aglianico with some local Negroamaro and Abbuoto.
Terroir and Climate
Lazio borders Tuscany in the north, Campania in the south, Abruzzo in the east, and Umbria in the northeast. The region’s volcanic hills offer an ideal base for viticulture because of the fertile and well-drained (porous) land.
Nourishing the grapes comes from the lava and tufa soils, abundant in potassium—this kind of soil suits white grapes, ensuring a good balance of acidity.
The nearness of the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west is also essential, bringing cool breezes that neutralize the drier and warmer temperatures on the coast.
Yet, the mountainous region has various macroclimates, even with the protections of the Apennines from the chilly winds migrating from the northeast.
By tradition, Lazio wines were abboccato, fat and rounded, and produced for immediate enjoyment. Nowadays, the structures as drier, lighter and crisper because of modern winemaking methods.
Still, the wineries make these wines to drink young and are noticeably sharp with high acidity and lightness. That way, you can pair the wine with the local cuisine, and heavy dishes, like sliced pork sandwiches with herbs, porchetta d’Ariccia, or young lamb, abbacchio.
The area has roughly 27 denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) titles, signifying a varied and eclectic collection of wines.
Three prominent DOC white wines are worth trying, beginning with Frascati, southeast of Rome. Frascati is unquestionably the most famous wine made anywhere in Lazio. The town is picturesque, and the Castelli Romani appellation rests in the Colli Albani hills.
Est! Est! Est! di Montefiascone has a long history of winemaking, though less recognized in the international market. Near Lake Bolsena of northern Lazio, the region produces a range of sparkling and white wines.
In 2011, the wine producers agreed to establish the Roma, offering a familiar and marketable name for wines around the city.
The establishment also overlays several Lazio DOCs partially and fully. Most wineries in Frascati will not require this option, though producers in some more obscure areas may find it beneficial to use the capital’s name.
Other DOCs have risen to fame, Marino and Orvieto. The latter shares the DOC with Umbria, Lazio’s northeastern neighbor. A rare wine worth mentioning originates near Lago di Bolsena (Lake Bolsena) as a sweet red DOC, Aleatico di Gradoli, which transforms nicely into a liquoroso.
Two of Lazio’s three denominazione di origine controllata e Garantita (DOCG) as designations for Frascati. The strictest one is Frascati Superiore for dry white wines. Cannelino de Frascati is the other one for sweet wines. Each of these designations aims to create higher ranked and distinct appellations.
Cesanese del Piglio title is the third DOCG in the hills south of Rome, the location of Piglio. Two other Cesaneses have a home in these hills: di Affile and di Olevano Romano.
Even so, the leading red wine is Velletri, a rich red made from Cesanese, Sangiovese, Merlot, Montepulciano, and Ciliegiolo. Velletri is Lazio’s most exemplary red wine designation as a Riserva.
With six indicazione geografica protetta (IGP), the Lazio IGP designation is most commonly seen on labels. Here, regulations are flexible with a long list of grape varieties, extending from local obscurities to the Spanish Tempranillo.
Wineries produce some excellent table wines called vino da tavola. The Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon Bordeaux kings complete the spotlight all on their own and in collaboration with the local Cesanese.
Grapes of Lazio
Even though Lazio wines are not as appreciated, some have made a name for themselves. Particularly those produced from Merlot, Sangiovese, Nero Buono di Coro, Montepulcaino and Cesanese.
Some others to consider are Ciliegiolo and Canaiolo. Altogether, Lazio has over 200 grape varieties in the area.
Though Lazio has a reputation for high-quality white wines, you may find some top sellers or best-tasting wines from the region to be red wines.
The Top Wines of Lazio, Italy
- Famiglia Cotarella Falesco “Montiano” Lazio IGT – Merlot
- Famiglia Cotarella Falesco “Le Poggere” Bianco Est Est Est di Montefiascone – Malvasia and Trebbiano
- San Giovenale “Habemus” Rosso Lazio IGT – Carignan, Grenache, Tempranillo and Syrah
- Famiglia Cotarella Falesco “Sodale” Merlot Lazio IGT – Merlot
- Federici Rosso Roma – Red Blend
- Tenuta di Fiorano “Fiorano” Rosso – Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot
- Fontana Candida Frascati Superiore Secco DOCG – Malvasia and Trebbiano
- Poggio le Volpi Rosso Roma – Rare Red Blend
Famiglia Cotarella Falesco produced this top-rated Lazio wine along the banks of Tiber River in Umbria. You may find it interesting that a red received the number one spot in an area best known for its white wines. The wine represents excellent value for its popularity with its deep ruby color.
It’s intense and red, deep-driven jammy fruit. Full of ripe, robust fruit and an abundance of spices. Your palate will relish its style with a long finish. The 100 percent Merlot wine received the gold medal from Mondial du Merlot & Assemblages in 2020 for the 2016 vintage.
The Montiano pairs well with venison and beef, according to the Wine Enthusiast drink after 2020. The reviewer says it’s savory with aromas of mature nutmeg, black-skinned fruit, and slight green peppercorn.
As a concentrated wine, it has a full-bodied palate, delivering blackberry jam, tobacco, and mocha with fine-grain tannins.
2. Famiglia Cotarella Falesco “Le Poggere” Bianco Est Est Est di Montefiascone – Malvasia and Trebbiano
Famiglia Cotarella Falesco brings you a superb white wine that is true to Lazio’s heritage. Malvasia and Trebbiano are names instead of single varieties, two of the most generally used grape names.
However, this wine has 15 percent, Rossetto, usually used to make rose wine. The other percentages include Trebbiano at 60 and Malvasia at 25.
Le Poggere stands as the best available wine among the Est! Est! Est! di Montefiascone wines. It’s well balanced as a tropical wine and pairs delightfully with white fish.
The wine has a straw-yellow color, featuring freshness and a good acidity level. It agrees with the nose for its quality aromatic characteristics.
There are some fruit and floral notes, and ideally, drunk at 10° to 12° Celsius or 50° to 53.6° Fahrenheit.
San Giovenale grew their grapes organically to make this wine, in which the harvest is the second and third decade of September.
The red wine is intense and rich and produced in a dry climate with constant ventilation from the Tyrrhenian Sea. It’s been among the highest-priced Lazio IGT wines for more than three years.
Doctorwine says drunk as a young wine, the taste is very good, with penetrating aromas of Mediterranean spice and brush, exquisite flavor, and a rare delicacy in the tannins.
A lovely acidity makes it splendid and pleasing to the palate with a dynamic, fascinating, consistent finish. The winery and wine lift the reputation of Lazio winemaking.
Famiglia Cotarella offers five vintages from 2015 to 2019. Each one produces around 30,000 bottles of this rich red wine.
With violet reflections, the color is an intense red. On the nose, sweet spices and red fruit notes emerge as a perfect balance with vanilla notes. The palate offers a round, pleasant, harmonious taste with a persistent finish and sweet tannins.
Kerin O’Keefe of Wine Enthusiast says there are aromas of vanilla, cedar, and black-skinned fruit. They come together in this 100 percent Merlot. The forward palate serves mocha, clove, and blackberry jam alongside pliant tannins.
Vini Federici is one of the original wine producers in the Roma region of Italy. Their Rossa Roma is a popular red blend, and though hard to find in the U.S., you might get lucky.
Crafted with some dried grapes, creating concentrated flavors, the wine has a delicious texture, lovely black fruit, and warm spice notes.
Tenuta di Fiorano ages the 65 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 35 percent Merlot for 30 months in old Slavonian oak barrels, creating an intense, bright ruby color as a medium-bodied wine.
The aromas are complex with austere notes of smokey tones, next balsamic, with hints of black currant syrup and blueberries. It blends into an extraordinary palate of harmonious and silky, barely hinting at tannins. The finish is subtle and excellent with persistence.
Comparably, the Fiorano is high priced as one of the most highly rated wines from Lazio and only 4,000 bottles annually. The alcohol content is 11.5 percent, very low, like in the good old days.
A superb white wine has won many awards, such as the Japan Wine Challenge bronze, The TEXSOM International Wine Awards silver and bronze, the Dan Berger’s International Wine Competition bronze, and many more.
Some say this is the most popular Frascati wine, having a tropical balance. The Wine Enthusiast describes the 2010 vintage as a Roman classic that pairs well with grilled vegetables and seafood. It has subtle aromas of pear, citrus, and dried hay.
The Reverse Wine Snob says the 2010 vintage has 60 percent Malvasia Bianca di Candia, 30 percent Trebbiano and 10 percent Malvasia del Lazio from Lazio, Italy.
Poggio le Volpi made this rare red blend with Montepulciano, Cesanese and Syrah, naming it Roma Doc. It has an intense color with dark sensations and aromatic strength. It’s an unlimited edition, refining a long time in barriques.
This Rossa Roma represents the dedication to the historical greatness of Rome as part of the important historical territories. Awards include the 2016 vintage winning First Place for Best Italian Red Wine and a gold medal from Berliner Wine Trophy.
The 2017 vintage won the Berliner Wine Trophy gold medal and the Mundus Vini silver medal. 2018 and 2019 also won the silver medal from Mundus Vini, while 2018 won the gold medal from Berliner Wine Trophy.