Brilliant Cesanese!

Cesanese is the most important red grape in Lazio (the region around Rome). Cesanese was the house wine in many Roman trattorias in the 1970s and 1980s; it could be pretty crude, but we have fond memories of lively wines that went perfectly with carbonara and saltimbocca. We’ve tasted many recent attempts to revive and "improve" Cesanese that were over-extracted, over-oaked, international-style wines that negated all that was interesting and distinctive about the grape. But now there are quite a few fine examples out there, and our faith is restored: Cesanese actually can make wonderful, vivid and vivacious wine. Cesanese isn’t (or shouldn’t be) deeply colored, it isn’t a heavy wine, and the best examples have bright fruit and spicy / peppery aromatics which persist on the palate. For what might be a useful reference: in some ways Cesanese reminds us of Pineau d’Aunis, with similar weight and structure and good complexity and persistence at a relatively young age.

Marco Antonelli farms 4 hectares of old Cesanese vines (and a hectare of olives). From Slow Wine: “Marco and his wife Bianca returned to the vineyards in 2007, strongly convinced that the love and passion of the old winemakers shouldn’t end with their generation: in this way they have built something important for the future. The vines are in two locations, one around the house with rows of Cesanese and Malvasia, the second close by, at about 400 meters in altitude.
Marco says this vineyard is anarchic because the red and white grapes grow together in a disorganized manner, maintained this way because they represent a piece of local history."


Antonelli 2021 Cesanese di Olevano Romano il Fresco - The vines are organic (certified), fermentations are spontaneous; the Fresca (that’s “Fresh”, soda fans), macerates for just a week, and spends 6 months on the lees in stainless steel before bottling. It lives up to the name: fresh, juicy and bright, stony from volcanic soils, perfect for the coming season when you might like a lightly chilled red that has some depth. Already a total steal, get 10% off when you buy a case!  - $15.99

-Jamie Wolff

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