Katie Parla, the Rome-based food writer and tour guide wrote that “much of the zone’s vino has been mediocre at best for a couple thousand years. Rome’s proximity guaranteed a built-in market thirsty for cheap wine, while mass production from the 1970s to today saw production grow to supply foreign markets with insipid Frascati.” A wine site thought that “most producers go strictly for quantity as nothing more is wanted beyond wine to fill carafes in the big city.”
The entire region of Lazio where Frascati and Rome belong haven’t received much respect even through it produced the equivalent of about 16 million bottles of wine last year. A few years ago, the Gambero Rosso annual wine guide complained about Lazio that “an overall selection that featuring few interesting wines” for the past year’s releases. Another wine guide, from Slow Food, devoted only three of its 275 wine review pages to the region.
I was of the same mind and had long advised friends traveling to Rome to look about Frascati to Orvieto, Friuili, Sardinia for whites while in the Eternal City.
But I knew that there was certainly some very good white wine produced there, as the quality throughout the country has improved and looked forward to a tasting a couple of weeks featuring Roman-area wines sponsored by the local Italy-America Chamber of Commerce at Vinology.
And the initial wine impressed, Roma from Principe Pallavicini, made with 100% Malvasia del Lazio, that’s also called Malvasia Puntinata, which is one of the main grapes for the Frascati blend. The dry white was slightly aromatic with hints of maybe basil and featured notes of apricot in a fairly long, mouth-filling taste with some heft courtesy of the four to five months of sur lie aging and a 13.5% alcohol. It very pleasantly surprised, a repose to the dull, forgettable Frascatis, and likely a nice match for a wide range of dishes along with being very easy to start with. And, not surprisingly, Gambero Rosso has positively reviewed vintages of Roma, including a prestigious two bicchiere for the 2016 one.
From the largest private estate in Frascati, these wines from an old aristocratic Roman family, are not available in the Houston area yet, but the Roma sells for about $18 elsewhere, quite a fair tariff.
The Ai Tre Scalini wine bar in Rome