Nothing, as you may know by now, is cut and dry when it comes to learning Italian grapes. Cesanese is a grape that we’ve always really loved and thought of as one that should be on the rise, as we were slowly exposed to rare but delicious examples over the years. But Lazio has long ignored the potential of its native grapes, and it seems that Cesanese has been wallowing in mediocrity until recently. It seems that there are in fact two different grapes named Cesanese. The Cesanese Comune grape is the lighter example of the two and when grown for quantity, not quality, and is too often uninspiring in character. Cesanese d’Affile is clearly the more serious grape and is the cornerstone of most of the good Cesanese wine to be found today. Which, happily, seem to indeed be on the rise!
Cesanese d’Affile, from Affile, certainly takes on a richer personality than the other neighboring examples and perhaps most closely represents the type of Cesanese wines that first gave it its popularity throughout the centuries when it was cherished by Roman Emperors and generations of Popes. The grape itself lends to a wide range of different flavors and textures in wine and has successfully shown that it can produce great results from rosés to reds, from sweet passito to even sparkling wine. So it stands to reason that, finally, Cesanese may soon have its day. Finally. The recent arrival of some young talent, modern approach (and by modern, I don’t mean ‘modern style’ wines) and technique in winemaking, has started the Cesanese journey towards a new identity and (finger crossed) a new wave of great red wine from Lazio.