5 Sep 2008 by Jancis Robinson

In a nutshell: Gulpable whites.

Main grapes: Malvasia, Trebbiano (white).

Frascati is to the vineyards surrounding Rome in Lazio (Latium in English) what Orvieto is to Umbria. It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between these two full-bodied dry whites - which can too often lack discernible characteristics. Castel de Paolis and Tenuta Le Quinte try particularly hard.

Riccardo Cotarella has worked some magic on Latium’s northern white, usually more memorable for its name, Est!Est!!Est!!!, than its flavour. At the family winery Falesco in the region of production centred on the town of Montefiascone, he has somehow managed to make a wine that seems much more interesting than the official recipe of mainly Trebbiano with a little Malvasia. (Frascati, incidentally, is supposed to be substantially Malvasia – a much more interesting grape than the various Trebbianos that abound in Central Italy – but can often be 100 per cent dull Trebbiano.) His most famous Latium wine internationally however is a particularly luscious 100 per cent Merlot called Montiano which now fetches prices unheard of for a Latium wine in the pre-Cotarella era.

Apart from a little Marino white made just west of Frascati and some Cesanese red in the hills, the Roman region is surprisingly undistinguished in terms of wine, but s
ome interesting juicy reds have also been emerging from the pretty Castelli Romani, with Cesanese Affile a local grape speciality.