Rome…well not exactly.
Civitavecchia is the port about an hour and a half from Rome and it is from here we leave on a wine-appreciation tour.
Our little group (only 8 of us) piled into a comfortable van and off we went. Skirting just past Rome we ended up at a vineyard just outside the city limits. Close enough to see it from our hillside, yet far enough away to allow the vineyard its needed room to grow.
L’Olivella Di Frascati, a family-owned and operated farm / vineyard, has been active for only about 30 years so it’s not really all that old. However they make several outstanding wines. Frascati is one of Rome’s most famous wine regions and produces some of the more popular wines of the area. We all gathered around a table laid out with olives, cheese, bread and oil and a bucket of ice holding 2 bottles of their version of Spumante. All that we enjoyed was grown and produced at their vineyard. Needless to say everything complimented everything else perfectly.
The area immediately around the main buildings is home to many other plants – fig trees, hazelnut trees, lemon trees. You know…all the normal things you would find on a farm.
They even have their own cave where barrels and bottles are stored. I need one of these as it truly makes a fabulous place for wine-tasting. And yes, this too comes from first hand experience as it was in the cave that we enjoyed their aperitif wine known as Tre Grome Passito. A rich amber in color, a slightly nutty initial reveal on the palate, with a well developed, yet not overly long, finish. Good thing he opened 2 bottles.
Now, with the morning gone, we make our way to the restaurant part of L’Olivella which is also where they do the actual wine production.
Taking us through their process, I saw a concrete vat labeled #1, my eyes following the count around the room to #14. Each was measured in 130 hL capacities. That was downstairs. Upstairs, just to the back of the restaurant proper I saw other vat numbers leading up to #93. Apparently they make a fair amount of wine. 🙂
Lunch started with a huge buffet (for lack of a better term) of only Antipasti. Cheeses, breads, thinly sliced salamis, Parma ham (Prosciutto), Pancetta (Italian bacon…sort of), roasted peppers…the list really does go on and on. That was coupled with a lovely light white wine, Racemo Bianco. Next, as our main course, we enjoyed a fettuccini with San Marzano tomatoes (a type of plum tomato, considered by many chefs to be the best paste tomatoes in the world), parmigiano reggiano and Pancetta. This was magically paired with a wonderfully rich, red wine called Bombino. The meal ended with a panacotta gently enhanced with a forest berry sauce and paired with the Tre Grome. Did we need it? No. Could we pass it up? Certainly not.
Rolling our way back into the van, we now make our way to Castel Gandolfo, where the Pope’s summer residence is located. We should all be so lucky as to have our own palace overlooking a lake like Albano in Italy. The main town itself has a small permanent residence of almost 9,000, but the Apostolic Palace, like the Vatican in Rome, does not fall within Italian jurisdiction. It is a property of the Holy See and as such enjoys extraterritorial status. The resort community includes pretty much all of the coastline of Lake Albano and many cottages and villas date back to the 17th century.
The view is fabulous. The town quaint, quiet and relaxing. The weather perfect. There might be better ways to spend a day, but I’m not going to waste this one looking for them.