I have always wondered why Lazio, my homeland, displays little interest in promoting its wines other than locally. It is true that the region has a pavilion at Vinitaly, and a fair number of wineries appear in the wine guides, but one need only browse the web to note that the wines of Lazio are among those least often mentioned and reviewed.
Wine in Lazio is associated with Frascati, which is considered by many, despite the fact that much has changed over the years, a wine of little import. I'm not referring to those in the trade, who do however continue to dedicate less attention to Lazio than to other regions, but to the general public, who feel "There's only the wine of the Castelli Romani."
The situation obviously is more complex; the region has made great strides, new areas have developed, there has been research and experimentation, many wineries, including new ones, work professionally and well, and the appellations have improved and grown.
Good. Even though there is still neither the will nor the drive necessary to introduce the world to the many regional realities, from Viterbo to Frosinone -- and the recent establishment of Roma DOC does not help -- Mario Maccario, food & wine writer, sommelier, and wine and olive oil taster, has recently published a surprising book that provides a detailed picture of the wines of the Province of Latina and the Agro Pontino.
I confess to having been skeptical when it arrived; I feared some sort of self-celebration in "guide" form of which we have a great many. Instead, it's an on-the-road narration of an important part of southern Lazio covering four well-defined appellations, Cori, Aprilia, Circeo and Terracina. A thorough study born of research Maccario began three years ago, published in installments on the online periodical Enopress, and presented in Rome during a conference at the Università degli Studi la Sapienza.
The author, knowing the importance of shedding light on a situation that much can be said about, takes us on a journey into the history and culture of the various territories, discussing architecture and countryside while illustrating the foods and wines they produce. The book is in four chapters, each describing an appellation, its territory, the wineries, and other traditional foodstuffs present. I much enjoyed this organization into itineraries, which allows all to follow the paths to reach the wineries mentioned (24 in all).
Maccario goes into detail for each winery, discussing history, philosophy, evolution, and also the wines produced, vineyard and cellar techniques, the varietals employed, and everything else necessary for a detailed picture of the estates. And more. At the end of the four chapters, in addition to providing beautiful photographs of the noteworthy attractions of the various regions, he presents images of the labels of all the wines produced by the wineries, something I find quite helpful for learning the names of wines and wineries.
There is also a "Label Glossary," an impressive and very original resource that explains the etymologies of the wine names. The final two sections of the book provide the addresses of the wineries, including emails and sites, and a list of wine shops in Rome specialized in regional wines.
More than 200 pages that read quite easily, and show how much there is to discover even in a limited area such as the Province of Latina.
Vini Latini e dell'Agro Pontino - Viaggio attraverso il territorio e le sue bellezze di Mauro Maccario Pag. 224 Prezzo 15 € Davide Ghaleb Editore Via Roma, 41 - 01019 Vetralla (VT) Tel. 0761 461794 Sito: www.ghaleb.it E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Published Simultaneously by IGP, I Giovani Promettenti.
NO STAR goes to wines that are correctly made but nothing to get excited about.
ONE STAR goes to wines that are good. TWO STARS go to wines that are very good to excellent. THREE STARS and a POINT SCORE (90-100) go to wines that are superb to extraordinary. And I will give pairing suggestions, which I consider much more important than the scores.