Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Stylish Frascati

Frascati has always been known as the "white wine of Rome"; this because it is historically the most famous wine of the Lazio region where Rome is located. While both Rome and the wine have this historical parallel, the wine for the most part just doesn't have the excitement, charisma or complexities of this famous city.

In fact, most bottlings of Frascati I've tasted over the years (admittedly very few) have been rather boring. The wine is most often a blend of several white varieties, such as Malvasia and Trebbiano, and is usually aged only for a few months in steel tanks (not wood), resulting in a light to medium-bodied wine best enjoyed in its youth (1-2 years after the vintage date, maximum). Pleasant sipping stuff, perhaps, but hardly a wine anyone would rave about.

So imagine my delight when I tasted the 2009 Frascati Superiore "Luna Mater" (mother moon) from Fontana Candida, for here is that rare bird, a Frascati with weight on the palate and excellent complexity.  This was a pleasant surprise for me, to say the least, especially as Fontana Candida is known for the typical straightforward style of Frascati.

The reason why this wine is so different is the fact that there were two harvests - one at the normal time and the second, a late harvest, which yields grapes that have more tropical fruit flavors instead of the simple apple and citrus perfumes found in an everyday Frascati. My notes list aromas of banana, spiced pear, applesauce and cinnamon - very nice!

This is a blend of several varieties, including Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia Puntinata, Trebbiano, Greco and Bombino. The light golden color is the first indicator that you are not dealing with a typical Frascati and that continues with its unique aromas, excellent concentration and a note of almond in the lengthy finish. This is appealing on its own, but is much better partnered with rich seafood such as swordfish or lobster.

The "Luna Mater" Frascati is imported by Banfi Imports and has a suggested retail price of $23 (very reasonable).

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