Cesanese di Affile, a distinct relative of the Cesanese Comune, is unique to the area of Affile. Affile is located in the region of Lazio, about 50 kilometers in the east of Rome, in the valley of Aniene on slopes of the Affilani mountains where the soil is noted for its reddish tint because of the major presence of iron oxide.
Cesanese di Affile is a red grape variety with ancient Roman origin that’s known for its superior quality which was loved by the Popes and Emperors. Its name was derived from Latin word Cesae which means place of cut trees, because the land where they were cultivated in the ancient times were cleared of trees to make room for the vineyards. Not to be confused with its sub-variety, Cesanese Comune, this variety has smaller leaves and blue-back berries and gives a fuller structure plus an inclination to longer aging. In the early twentieth century, the wine made from these grapes became famous after winning awards in Paris and Brussels but the production was silenced soon afterwards.
Cesanese di Affile is a red grape variety with ancient Roman origin that’s known for its superior quality which was loved by the Popes and Emperors.
The wine producing territory of Affile had a rebirth in the early 21st century. The woods and abandoned land were cultivated with young vineyards. After almost half a century of a period of standstill, in 2003, the ancient vine came to limelight again, producing the first label of Cesanese di Affile DOC under the name Colle Fraggiano 2003 (now called Terrae Vulpis) by Vini Raimondo, the very first wine produced after the DOC was established in 1973. With this vintage, they managed to produce 300 bottles obtained from grapes of antique vines.
Vini Raimondo is a small family-owned winery run by Eleonora Perez, her husband Romulo and father Giuseppe, after her grandparents started the activity. The winery’s oenologist is Fabio Giuli. It has four hectares of land positioned at an elevation of 500 meters above sea level with the vineyards on steep slopes which permit harvests only by hand. An unspoiled land, the vineyards are surrounded by woods that are populated by foxes. The soil is composed mainly of white soil which is prevalently sandy. The winters are rigid while summers have diurnal temperature variations which are optimum in increasing the ripening qualities of the grapes.
Vini Raimondo produces three kinds of wines which I tasted during my visit to the winery. They are all obtained from Cesanese di Affile: Nemora, Terrae Vulpis and Cybelle.
Cybelle Rosato IGT 2017. 100% Cesanese di Affile. The grapes were harvested early by hand in late September, to maintain the crispiness. There was skin contact for 3 hours giving a clear salmon color, fermented in stainless steel and aged aged sur lees for 5 months with double batonnage a week to extract more aromas and flavors. The nose has a pronounced intensity of red berries and flowers. Strawberries make a prevalent impact, followed by other raspberries, sweet candy scent, and blush powder. In the palate, the wine is persistent, the acidity is high with moderate sapidity.
Nemora Cesanese di Affile DOC 2016. 100% Cesanese di Affile. The grapes were harvested on time when they have reached their maturity, at the end of October, obtained from the vineyards at the highest point of the land. The aging takes place in two containers, 60% in French oak tonneau while 40% aged in stainless steel, then six more months in the bottle before they are released. Ruby red in color, it gives aromas of spices with the prevalence of juniper, and mature cherries and plums. Equilibrated with the palate, the tannins are moderate, with softened edges, moderate acidity and with a marked sapidity. It bestows a good representation of the grape variety as the tertiary characteristics that come from aging do not cover the varietal characteristics. It can be enjoyed young or with a couple of years of aging in the cellar.
Terrae Vupis Cesanese di Affile DOC 2015. 100% Cesanese di Affile. Like the Nemora, the grapes were harvested on time when they have reached their maturity, at the end of October, obtained from the vineyards at the highest point of the land but only from the best vintages. Aged in new tonneau for 12 months giving it complexities of aromas toast, spices, with the prevalence of black pepper, mature red and black fruits. Elegant and persistent in the mouth. Deep ruby red in color with a full body. It can be enjoyed when aged longer in the cellar as the wine evolves more with complex flavors.