A native of Bordeaux, the Merlot grape was brought to the Agro Pontino valley by the immigrant farm workers from Italy’s Veneto region who reclaimed the land from the Pontine Marshes in the 1930’s. Despite the DOC appellation of 1966, the variety was underrated and underexploited until Casale del Giglio’s experimental project, (launched in 1985) identified the combination of rootstocks, clones and canopy management which have led to the production of top quality grapes.
GRAPE VARIETIES AND VINIFICATION TECHNIQUE
Depending on the vintage, different vinification techniques are employed to guarantee that the quality of the wine will be consistent from year to year. The pumping over and ‘délestage’ (rack and return) techniques aerate the fermenting must and favour the formation of stable colour and soft velvety tannins, while the submerged cap technique, which permits a longer maceration time of some 15-20 days, produces a finished wine with greater body and better aging potential. When the wine is racked, the fermented skins are still rich in colour, tannins and aromas. To capture these extracts the skins are driven gently to the soft presses by natural gravity alone, without the help of pumping. Malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats. The wine then matures for 8-12 months in small oak barrels before it is bottled and aged for approximately 180 days.
A deep ruby-red wine with aromas of small redberried fruits and cherry. Characteristic herbal notes return on a smooth, well-rounded palate.
SUGGESTED FOOD PAIRING
‘Bucatini all’Amatriciana’ – a traditional pasta dish in a cured pork and tomato sauce from the Apennine hill town of Amatrice.
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