The ancient, pastoral estate at Castello di Torre in Pietra feels like stepping back in time. All around is tranquil, verdant loveliness: close enough, but in many ways so far from the beautiful chaos of Rome. From the point of view of wine production, Lazio has never enjoyed the renown of many other appellations in Italy, even if generations of tourists to Rome fall in love with Frascati, or Est! Est!! Est!!! - simple white wines that can certainly be pleasing, but rarely great.
But there is a new DOC in town...and it carries the name of the great city that lies just to the east. Roma DOC comes in a red and a white version. The white is made from Malvasia Puntinata, also called Malvasia di Lazio, although Bombino Bellone or Trebbiano Verde are also permitted. The red features Cesanese along with Montepulciano and Sangiovese. These are easy drinking, delicious wines, best consumed in a local osteria, in big gulps, with generous quantities of good and simple fare.
Now owned by the energetic and likable Filippo Antonelli, Torre in Pietra has a history that goes back to the 13th century - the stones paving the garden are taken from the Via Aurelia, the ancient roman road from Rome to Pisa; one can still see the ruts from wagon wheels. Originally a large agricultural estate, the property was purchased in the 16th century by the Peretti family (Pope Sixtus V - Pope Sixth the Fifth), and the existence of vineyards at that time has been well documented, as through successive changes of ownership. In the thirties, the estate was purchased by Senator Luigi Albertini, editor and owner of the newspaper Corriere della Sera. He created a model agricultural estate that covered 2500 hectares of land, specializing in milk production. However from the beginning, the Senator turned his attention to winemaking, enlarging the existing cellar (in 1938, during excavation, important mammoth remains were discovered) and planting new vineyards.
The estate currently covers 150 hectares on gentle hills composed of tufo, and breccia (compact, volcanic ashy pumice, and stony, sandy, sedimentary soils), and lies a stone's throw from the sea which is to the west. There are 52 hectares of vineyards, 8 hectares of olive trees (high density planting), and 80 hectares planted to grain. The vineyards are south and west facing in rows following the slope downward. The training system is cordone speronato for red grapes, and guyot for white grapes. Grass is planted between the rows and a green harvest is conducted during the summer. In 2008, the estate moved to Organic cultivation of grapes, and received certified status from the 2011 vintage (the winery's certificate may be downloaded from its website). This is a big advantage for Torre in Pietra, because, having fewer weapons with which to defend against disease, they must follow the crop with greater care, which leads to healthier fruit and better wine.
Fabrizio Tomas is the consulting enologist; Elisabetta Angiuli is the on-site enologist.