Posted by: tomciocco | November 12, 2012

WHAT FRASCATI SHOULD ALWAYS BE

It hasn’t quite the commanding name recognition of Chianti or Amarone or Barolo (which to be fair are all red wines), but at least in terms of  Italian white wines, Frascati (located, by the way,  in the hills south of Rome)  is a name that rates near the top in terms of the broadest public familiarity, whether for good or bad. And to be honest, in terms of the lion’s share of the total production, sadly, Frascati leans quite marked to the latter.

The fault lies, shockingly, with a combination of poor regulation and excessive profit. The Frascati disciplinare (production regulations) requires the inclusion of at least 70% Malvasia Bianca di Candia and/or Malvasia del Lazio (a.k.a. Malvasia Puntinata), and a maximum of 30% Trebbiano Toscano and/or Trebbiano Giallo a/o Greco a/o Bellone a/o Bombino Bianco with a full 15% of other “wild card” grapes that grow in the region’s vineyards. “Well so what?” you might ask? Well here’s why these set of facts encourage the production of lesser quality wine…

The two permitted Malvasia sub-varieities (and there are lots of them) despite their common names, are as far as one sub-variety can be from another; Malvasia di Candia is fundamentally dull, neutral, and oxidizes very easily, but its cousin Malvasia del Lazio is thick skinned and sweet with lots more flavor, aroma, texture, and color. But guess what? The former, lesser sub-variety is far more pervasive, is far easier to grow, and produces more bunches per vine. And there’s a similar story with the secondary grapes. The Trebbianos bring a nice fresh acidity to a blend, but little else, and yet they can make up 30% of the blend. The interest lies in the Greco, Bellone , and Bombino Bianco…and the optional 15% mulligan in the blend gives yet another opportunity to dilute and degrade the blend (though some high quality but ultra-rare local varieties have been preserved with this allowance) .

Well, for me, this is one of the producers the “gets” all of this, and chooses to make really GOOD Frascati. Made by a winemaking concern in existence since 1713, this is a Frascati Superiore – which unlike basic Frascati, is a D.O.C.G., rather than a D.O.C. so the regulations force permissible yields down and consequently, quality up – is made from a blend of 70% Malvasia del Lazio, and 10% each of Trebbiano Toscano, Bellone, and Bombino Bianco. This is the sort of blend that gives Frascati a good name. Would that they all were so…

Roman wine, Roman food: First course – Spaghetti alla Papalina (Carbonara adding melted onions and green peas), and Saltimbocca (liberty taken with chicken over the more traditional veal) with carrots braised in butter and lemon juice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Casale Marchese Frascati Superiore 2011

Slightly coppery medium golden color. Big, layered aromas of sliced pear, applesauce, white flowers, sea spray, mascarpone, beeswax, and rosemary. The body of the wine is medium-full, with a round and rich mouthfeel that is very deftly balanced with a broad and spunky acidity that scatters across the palate detailed flavors of fresh pineapple, stewed quince, cling peaches, crushed pine nuts, and raw fennel. Quite long and nuanced bitter almond finish.

 

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