Visiting the ancient, pastoral estate at Castello di Torre in Pietra feels like taking a step back in time. All around is tranquil, verdant loveliness - so close, but in many ways so far, from the beautiful chaos of Rome. The ancient long-horned cattle - the breed is called Maremmana, from Maremma - still graze in pastures fenced in wood. Hillsides are covered in cypress and pine. Nature bursts from every vista.
From the point of view of wine production, Lazio has never enjoyed the renown of many other appellations in Italy, even if generations of tourists to Rome fall in love with Frascati, or Est! Est!! Est!!! - simple white wines that can certainly be pleasing, but rarely great. But there is a new DOC in town...and it carries the name of the great city that lies just to the east. Roma DOC comes in rosso and bianco. The white is made from Malvasia Puntinata, or Malvasia di Lazio, although Bombino Bellone or Trebbiano Verde are also permitted. The red features Cesanese along with Montepulciano and Sangiovese. These are easy drinking, delicious wines, best consumed in a local osteria, in big gulps, with generous quantities of good and simple fare.
Filippo Antonelli, the proprietor of the estate, is friendly, curious and smart. His line includes not only the Roma wines, but a delicious, spritzy white from Fiano, made with no additions of sulfur, a spumante made in small quantities, mainly for local celebrations at the Cantina, and a pair of simple but delicious blends named for the wooly mammoth, whose remains were found when the tunnel between the old cantina and the newer was excavated - Elephas. The damn nazis, leaving Italy in a hurry, ran off and stole the fossilized mammoth tusk that was part of the collection. A femur still remains on the property.