The Wine: Cesanese del Piglio 2019
Abbia Nova Cesanese del Piglio is a red natural wine made from 100% Cesanese grapes grown in Lazio, Central Italy. Spontaneous fermentation on the skins, no chemicals in the vineyards, no added sulfites, unfined, and unfiltered.
The Producer: Abbia Nova
Daniele Proietti and Pierluca Proietti command the seven hectares of parcels located in the town of Piglio, mostly on important cru sites in the appellation of Cesanese del Piglio DOCG and inherited from his family over the years. Many of the vines are from varietals that are indigenous to the area and average around 80 years or more.
Daniele and his cousin moved towards more natural farming methods starting in the 1980s with organic agriculture and later on, along with his cousin, delved into biodynamic principles, Fukuoka’s methods and homeopathic methods of agriculture. They’ve eschewed even treatments like sulfur and copper and instead use natural resistance methods that they produce themselves.
The estate grows Cesanese along with other ancient varietals like Passerina, Bellone, Ottonese, Nostrano, and Fosco Peloso. They follow a natural and traditional method in the cellar as well, one that focuses on their personal tastes, crafting expressive wines that convey a deep message that is immediately known to the taster.
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 with 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 at 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.