3/5 of a whole
Last week I joined Hande, Irene and Theo for a fun evening of wine and oil tasting hosted by AIS. The theme for the evening was Lazio. As a Lazio food and wine aficionado I was looking forward to trying products from producers I had never tried before.
Most of the wine producers I was already familiar with, but there were a few surprises. I arrived late, so the event was already fueled by inebriated people. I think we spent more time talking than tasting, but it was a good time, and I got to taste olive oil from 2000+ year old olive trees.
I caught up with them by making the rounds of Frascati. No surprises on that account. Frascati is one of my favorite wines, but you know, been there done that. I still haven’t had a better Frascati than what is made by the cantina Castel de Paolis.
While many people flocked to the Casale del Giglio table, we decided to concentrate our efforts on the Cesanese grape and there were some wonderful surprises. Cesanese is a local grape that is native to Lazio. Most famous in Cesanese del Piglio, it is a grape that has a lot of potential. It does well in the volcanic soils of Lazio, has lovely dark fruit aromas and can be very expressive and complex. Some of the producers really know how to handle this native grape, and others failed by using way too much wood. I am not a fan of wines that have an offensive amount of oak. I like to get a sense of the grape, the terroir and the winemaker’s skills. I suppose you could say that overusing oak is an indication of lack of winemaking skills, but then again, many winemakers make a variety of products for different audiences. The international palate likes big, jammy fruit bomb with lots of sweet and spicy aromas from oak. New World style. Me? I like a wine with depth and layers. Oak should be like makeup. Minimal use to enhance beauty that is already there, not to cover up perceived flaws.
The event wasn’t a serious tasting. We had fun and had the opportunity to meet some producers that give me a sense of hope for the future of Lazio in the world of wine. I even met a neighbor that lives less about 500m away from me and where they make easy to drink wines and lovely olive oil. Funny that I walk by their property quite often and I’ve never said hello. I volunteered myself to help with the harvest at my favorite wine producers of the evening, Damiano Ciolli.
Though I have my disagreements with AIS and their method, I am happy that they host events like this. Having so many producers in one place rather than having to go out and search for them myself is really useful.
Did I mention I tasted olive oil made from trees that are over 2000 years old? Where am I?