The Wine: IX Miglio Bianco 2021
White natural wine made from a blend of Bombino Bianco, Malvasia di Candia, and Malvasia Puntinata farmed organically (certified) in the Lazio region of Central Italy. This is a wine that’s impossible not to like. I’m not being hyperbolic friends! It’s a superbly made wine for starters, with no flaws, and perfectly balanced. White crunchy fruit on the nose (apple), stone fruit, and wildflowers. Great mid-palate, subtle minerality, bright acidity, tropical fruit, and melon.
The Producer: Riserva della Cascina
Winemakers for four generations, Riserva della Cascina is located outside of Rome, along the famous via Appia. Certified organic since 1994, the estate has been run by Silvia Brannetti since 2011 – she took over after earning a Ph.D. in mathematics. Quintessential Italian family business.
The Region: Lazio
Lazio, Latium in Latin, is located in Central Italy, its capital is Rome, and is one of the biggest and most populous regions of Italy. Lazio was first inhabited by the Etruscans and then by the Latins and Romans. Lazio was always a wine-producing region and borders other historically important Italian wine regions - Tuscany (North), Campania (South), Umbria, and Abruzzo (East).
The Romans and the Roman Empire as a political and cultural entity had the biggest impact on the development of the region: trade, agriculture, technology, and also winemaking, were deeply influenced by the capital, Rome, known as "Caput Mundi" - the capital of the world. Falernian wine, the most famous wine of ancient Rome and perhaps ancient times, was produced from Aglianico grapes grown the border of Lazio and Campania.
However, after the Barbaric invasions and the fall of the Roman Empire, the region went through several centuries of underdevelopment and winemaking stopped being a central part of everyday life. After the unification of Italy, in 1961, when Rome became the capital of the newly formed nation-state, winemaking was rediscovered in an attempt to reestablish the glory of the past.
The Terroir of Lazio
Lazio is a hilly region - Rome is famously built on the "Seven Hills of Rome". These are mostly hills of volcanic origin, which is an ideal characteristic for winemaking as we have seen for other wine regions - Soave, Etna, Taurasi, Sannio among many others.
Volcanic soils tend to be very well-drained and rich in nutrients such as potassium. In a similar way to the soils of Soave and Sannio, Lazio volcanic soils are conducive to growing excellent white grapes. Winds and cool breezes from the Tyrrhenian Sea, Lazio has a long coastline to the West, also play a factor in the region's viticulture, which benefits from relatively mild temperatures and good aeration and is protected to the East by the Apennines.
The White Wines of Lazio
Trebbiano and Malvasia di Candia are the local heroes, usually vinified in a style that prefers roundness and a certain chewiness combined with an off-dry profile. Nowadays things are somewhat different, also thanks to a plethora of natural winemakers who are embracing Lazio's indigenous varietals but are adopting a different winemaking approach.
Lazio's white wines are crisp, light, refreshing and low in alcohol, meant to be drunk young. Acidity is the main element, and winemakers have learned how to capitalize on Lazio's grapes high and yet well balanced natural acidity. Le Coste di Gradoli is one of the best examples of this natural renaissance, which also reinterpreted the ancient skin contact technique.
Some of the most popular whites are Frascati, Orvieto, Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone - a real hidden gem.
The Red Wines of Lazio
Red wines from Lazio are also going through a major renaissance thanks to natural winemakers. The most important grapes are Sangiovese, Cesanese, perhaps the most representative Lazio indigenous grape varietal, Aleatico Montepulciano, and Nero Buono di Cori. In Lazio, there are more than 200 hundred grape varietals and some of the red wines are field blends of mostly unknown grapes.
Some of the most popular are Cesanese del Piglio (or Piglio), which is the only Lazio DOCG, and Aleatico di Gradoli (a sweet wine) along with Sangiovese and other varietals common in Central Italy, Montepulciano, Sangiovese, Ciliegiolo, and Canaiolo.