Rome, These walls were built on Frascati.
It is not hard to find me with wine. Peeking over a fence at a neighbour’s vines, searching for a wine title in a bookshop, looking at the wine menu first in a restaurant, travelling for wine, doing business in a wine bar.. if I have coffee in my right hand, wine is in my left (ok, not always but I like to dream). So, it is not hard to guess that I spend lots of my free time in Italy, visiting its abundance of wine regions.
On Saturday, we took a day trip to Frascati, a commune 20 kms South-East of Rome in the Alban Hills. Its name probably derives from a typical Italian tradition of collecting firewood “frasche”. Like most places in Italy, it has an incredible array of ancient Roman archaeological findings, however, it is most famous for its notable villas. These were built from the 16th century onwards by Popes and were enjoyed by aristocrats for socialising. Our day, however, was consumed by the source that certainly helped to build these Roman Walls. The delicately balanced, Frascati.
Frascati will forever remind me of Paolo, Andrea’s papà, being a staple on the table when we eat in his home. Like the Golden Wine itself (as the Romans referred to it, both for its value and colour) he was also born near Rome and is (nearly) as old as these vines here. They are the oldest, functioning, producers of Frascati still alive, belonging to one of the most passionate wine families I have met, the Minardi Family.
The Minardi Family is one of Frascati’s oldest and best-known families. They have been producing wine for over nine generations and own most of what is now called Frascati DOCG terrain. In Italy, the names of wine come from the regions in which they are made. More famously, for example, Chianti must come from a specific blend of grapes grown in Chianti in Tuscany to be labelled a Chianti. Champagne grapes must come from Champagne in France in order to be called Champagne. DOC laws state that Frascati must contain a minimum of 70% Malvasia (Bianca di Candia) and/or Trebbiano (Toscano), a 30% maximum of Greco and/or Malvasia (del Lazio) and a maximum of 10% other white grapes, in order to be called a Frascati wine, and needless to say, grown in the zone of Frascati.
Umberto, the head winemaker and papà at the Minardi Cantina makes a superb Frascati using a Malvasia and Greco blend. They make under 10,000 bottles per year and distribute to the local restaurants around the area, and Rome.
(This underground cellar maintains the wine at a solid 15 degrees celsius, all year round)
These are the three different wines made in the Minardi Cantina:
- Superior Frascati – The famous “Golden Wine” of Rome, praised by Popes, Nobles and Romans for nearly 2000 years. Definitely the pride of Frascati.
- Vagnolo Rosso Lazio – The refreshing Red wine produced with 80% Cesanese grapes, one of the oldest and most important grape varieties of Lazio, and 20% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
- Cannellino di Frascati – Recognised as best sweet wine in Lazio in 2015, this special wine pairs perfectly with every dessert but especially Frascati wine cookies.
(Generous tastings with pizza al pomodoro and some sweet biscotti tipici di Frascati with the Cannellino)
This last one, Cannellino di Frascati is an interesting interpretation like the Passito style wines made by the appassimento process, whereby grapes are partially dried on straw mats or pallets in airy rooms or barns in order to concentrate the grapes’ flavours and sweetness prior to vinification. Unlike many sweet wines, it has a low alcohol content and is very mildly sweet. Most sweet wines in the area are using a concentrated juice to make this style of wine, whereas Minardi, continues the ancient tradition.
If you are looking for a nice day trip out of Rome, and like wine, I would highly suggest visiting the Minardi Frascati Winery. Can’t wait to go back to explore the rest of this interesting commune!
Would love to connect wth you on Facebook: here
Or Instagram: @chloeitalia