A taste of terroir: Lazio

Sunshine, volcanoes, and Mediterranean breeze


Everyone knows about Rome—its history, its architecture, its people, its football teams. Strangely, the same can’t be said for Lazio, the region it belongs to. This is a great shame, because the wines from this beautiful area of central Italy are some of the most intriguing and unusual in the country, not to mention some of the most ancient. In Lazio, locals have been making wine for thousands of years, ever since the industrious Etruscans set about adopting agricultural practices across Italy—starting with what is now Tuscany. Their planting and farming in the fertile soils of Lazio (then known as Etruria) made headway for the following Romans, who used these valuable skills to build the strongest and most powerful civilisation in the western world at that time. 

Romans aren’t just practical people, though. Farming and agriculture might feed armies, but it also includes winemaking. We know the Romans enjoyed wine, not for its safety compared to water, but for its effects and flavours. They liked to party. They liked to revel. They liked to enjoy life, in all its glorious highs and violent lows. Here in the region where Rome grew into a central power, the soil is volcanic thanks to the neighbouring volcanoes that make up the Alban hills. Volcanic soils, like those you see in Naples and Sicily, are renowned for crafting striking, mineral-rich wines thanks to the potassium and other minerals within the layers of lava and granitic soil. These soils are more nutrient-rich than many other winemakers might prefer, however when your climate is dry and hot, that boost of nutrition can make all the difference to your finished wine.

In Lazio, the weather is warm and sunny, and the mountainsides are blessed with breezes from the Mediterranean Sea. Grapes grown on the coast have sea breezes to cool their vines, allowing them to retain that all-important acidity. Likewise, higher in the hills the air is cooler, enabling grapes to grow more slowly and develop fewer sugars. Some wines from the region rely on warmer temperatures however, like Cesanese, which loves the rich soils and hot summer climate of Cesanese di Piglio. The combination of iron-rich soil and long, sunny days enables the rich black grapes of this variety to ripen to their absolute fullest, creating deep, intense wines characteristic of this special area.

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