Italy, Latium

All vines lead to Rome

Apparently I was a few weeks too early. Spring hadn’t yet arrived and it was still too cold. That only meant one thing: it was all for me. The table laden with food, the view of the mountains, the tour of the vines, the wine. You can’t go wrong on a wine tasting weekend in Italy.

After a two hour bus ride from Rome and a half hour windy road by car, here I was at DS Bio in Pescosolido, 630m high within the Lazio area in the province of Frosinone. It was Easter weekend, the Italians were with their families, the tourists hadn’t yet arrived. So I got the personalised tour. I patted the horses, I took in the view.

Unlike so many wineries in Europe that are in the same family for generations, this one started with Danilo. Returning from university abroad he wanted to link his passions for horses and sustainable viticulture with the family farm and Italian traditions, and in 2012 DS Bio was born.

It has all the ingredients for making good, sound, natural wine. There were the more than hundred-year-old vines, the dry climate, the sandstone and limestone soil, the influence of the Abruzzo mountains and the indigenous grapes. Add to that the biodiversity with the many hectares of olive and oak trees, the bees, the horses that help out on the farm and of course the Italians and their way of keeping everything so enchanting.

Of the 23 hectares, only a few actually produce grapes, the rest is taken up by olive and juniper trees and space for the horses. Yet that small amount produces some 18,000 or so bottles a year of natural and/or biodynamic wines across five local grape varieties (Maturano, Pampanaro, Capolongo, Lecinaro and Uva Giulia).

There are a few other vineyards in the area but it doesn’t have its own DOC status so its wines are listed as IGT del Frusinate. It’s about as natural as one can get. The grapes being picked by hand, the fermentation done with natural yeast, the ageing done in concrete vats and there are no added chemicals save for a tiny bit of sulphites at bottling if need be.

On the palate you can taste earth from which it comes from, and they are clearly best with food. Their orange wine is made from macerating the skins with the juice for six months, allowing the aromatic, herby and floral flavours to be expressed. The rose had notes of smoke and tar seal and went well with the savoury dishes; the reds mildly tannic and fruity but light, probably better chilled on a hot, sunny day.

The wine is meant to be drunk within 2-3 years, and the day I was there, the wine in the vats was one week away from bottling. It was to do with the phases of the moon. A new phase of the moon, a new phase for the wine.