Wine Culture Magazine

Although Casale del Giglio grows “modern” grapes as well, its indigenous Italian grapes are the winery’s pride.

One of the wonderful things about Italy, is that it’s home to more indigenous wine grape varieties than anywhere else in the world. In fact the country boasts some 350 vitis vinifera varieties that are used on a commercial scale. But beyond that the actual number of indigenous varieties is not really known. It could be perhaps as many as 2,000!

No surprise, then, if you’re not yet familiar with Cesanese and Bellone, both of which come from Lazio, the region just south of Rome with a long history of winemaking. In fact viticulture here dates from Caesar’s rule and earlier. These varieties have been staples on Roman tables since the zenith of the empire.

A white grape found almost exclusively in Lazio, Bellone is traditionally used in blending. However it can also shine on its own, particularly when grown on the region’s sandy soils. It thrives especially well in coastal, windswept Anzio. Here it ripens early and rewards with high sugars, intense aromatics and juicy acidity that can emphasize a chalky minerality.

Also from Lazio, Cesanese is another truly indigenous Italian variety, with roots that predate Rome’s conquest of the inland Appenine tribes. These areas did not see the same influx of Greek and other vines into the region, meaning its indigenous heritage is truly authentic. Low yielding and late ripening Cesanese thrived on infertile lands and difficult conditions, which no do doubt boosted its fortunes. It too was commonly poured at many a Roman table.

Although the variety became almost extinct after the middle ages it’s recently begun to flourish once more (albeit in small quantities), as a new generation of winemakers celebrates autochthonous grapes. The variety is made up of two species: Cesanese Comune—used in IGT wines—and more intensely flavoured Cesanese d’Affile, used in DOC wines.

Both of these storied grapes are grown by flagship Lazio producer Casale del Giglio and are available on local BC shelves. They’re also a shoo-in for rustic and robust fall flavours reminiscent of traditional Roman fare.

Casale del Giglio Bellone

(Lazio Bianco IGT 782920)

Floral, citrus and stonefruit aromas, well balanced fruit and acidity, generous mouthfeel with a lingering, mineral close. Pair with west coast cioppino, Pecorino Romano and leaner cold cuts.

Casale del Giglio Cesanese

(Lazio Rosso IGT 646711, BCLS)

Fruit driven but edgy, vibrant, forward red berries, intense juicy palate driven by good acidity, mulberry, pepper spice and savoury notes wrapped in well integrated tannins. Pair with venison, roast turkey and braised fall vegetables.


Casale del Giglio
Contact local import agency: World Wine Synergy,
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