One of my first impressions of Frascati was the awfulness of the local wine. But with time, it grew on me, along with Italian drinking habits like mixing it half-and-half with water. In time I also learned that you can get much better wines direct from some of the tiny local producers than from the Frascati trattorias. Still rough, but interesting! Drinking wine there was pot luck, and somewhat analagous to rough west-country scrumpy in the UK. Except that scrumpy tends to be much more sanitised these days, as do the wines exported from the Frascati area to the UK.

The main local grape there was the Trebbiano. If you look it up in the wine literature, you’ll see it’s widely rubbished: its main virtue is that it grows well in central-Italian conditions, and produces wine in large quantities. No great surprises there.

I’ve just indulged in a Trebbiano-Chardonnay blend, from near Bologna. It worked really well: the characteristic trebbiano taste of central Italy was very clear, while the chardonnay takes off the rough edge without making it bland. I thoroughly enjoyed it, much more than Frascati wine, or indeed its close cousin Orvieto (which I like a little better as a brand).

Is this genuinely a very nice wine? Or is it hitting tastebuds of nostalgia? If so it’s a strange nostalgia. Hmmm, must try some more Trebbiano blends/variants over the summer.

[footnote for readers who didn’t know me at the time: I lived in the Frascati area near Rome from 1992 to 1998]

Posted on July 7, 2007, in wine. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I agree fully with your comment about sanitised scrumpy. Allow me to indulge in a brief nostalgia trip.

    Back in the very early 80s I used to buy some wonderful westcountry firewater from a place called Farrants Farm at Dunsford, near Exeter.

    The cidermaker was a real character, a one-eyed farmer with a very dry wit. He would lead you up some rickety black wooden steps into a loft above the cowshed where the cider was maturing in ancient oak vats. Then you would be invited to try the various vintages in a chipped enamel mug.

    The stuff cost £1 a gallon, about the same price as petrol at the time, but higher octane I suspect! I used to get orders from various university friends and recall taking copious quantities up to Cambridge in the back of my Mini Metro.

    They still make cider at Farrants Farm, but my one-eyed friend retired years ago and the enamel mug has been replaced by disposable plastic cups in the interests of “health and safety”. The cider’s ok, but it doesn’t seem to have that raw, dangerous edge like the old stuff…those were the days!

  2. “West country fire water” what a lovely description.
    In my days,cider was the life and soul (usually the soul) of the Saturday party,and if we really had something to celebrate someone would lash out on a bottle of Merrydown,or was it Merrydew.

  3. Trebbiano?? Wasn’t that the guy from the TV show, “Friends?” Sorry, a little off topic, but that was the first thing that came to mind.

    By the sound of your experince with this wine I’m not sure I would be able to adapt to any wine that had to be watered down, but the again, if you want a drink and that’s all there is…

    All the best!

  4. These wines can be very hit and miss! Your experience (the watering down of these wines) reminds me of something all my Spanish friends did when I first got there: they used to mix (cheap) red wines with Coca Cola. Disgusting at first, but then you start to get a taste for it. It got some funny looks when I got home!

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