The Wine: Collepazzo Olevano Romano Cesanese
Cantine Riccardi Reale Collepazzo Olevano Romano Cesanese 2015 is a red wine from Lazio, Central Italy, made from 100% Cesanese di Affile grapes farmed biodynamically. The grapes are grown on different types of soils, mainly volcanic and sandstone. The wine is aged for 10 months in cement containers and 6 months in the bottle. This is a great biodynamic wine from an exciting family owned estate.
The Producer: Cantine Riccardi Reale
Piero Riccardi and Lorella Reale are the two souls behind Cantine Riccardi Reale.
Piero planted his first garden aged six. He’s been studying agriculture his entire life. For the past thirty years, he has been a television author and director for the national broadcasting company RAI (for programmes such as ‘Mixer’, ‘La storia siamo noi’, ‘Report’). He decided to grow the Cesanese vineyards under the guidance of Ruggero Mazzilli, an agronomist of the Experimental Unit for sustainable viticulture in the Chianti area.
Since then Piero has been directly taking care of the biodynamic practices adopted in his vineyards and also takes care of the winemaking process in the cellar. And he pays great attention to preserving biodiversity at both soil and pruning level. He regularly updates his pruning skills at Simonit & Sirch, the Italian School of Grape Vine Pruning.
Lorella is Sicilian. She graduated in Philosophy and Applied Ethics in Rome. She is a member of the Italian Society of Women in Literature and the author of books and papers on cinema, literature and feminism.
After shooting, with Piero Riccardi, some investigative journalism pieces on the state of Italian agriculture for the TV programme ‘Report’ — entitled Buon appetito. Il piatto è servito (Bon Appétit. The meal is served) and Carne (Meat) — the idea to start a wine farm in the land that she and Piero had been trying to preserve for years became ever so pressing.
A sommelier and member of the Italian Federation of Sommeliers (F.I.S.), Lorella studied cuisine at Gambero Rosso and continues her studies in the Porthos School. She administers the wine farm and takes care of anything that needs to be done, whenever and wherever the case, be it out in the vineyards or in the cellar.
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, where 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.