Cincinnato Winery, a wine cooperative led by Nazzareno Milita, has been producing wines in Cori in the Italian region of Lazio (about 70 kilometers from Rome) since 1947 with more than 550 hectares of land and 105 family growers of grapes. The cultivation is specific to the native grape varieties of the region which are mainly Nero Buono and Bellone, as well as Greco, Malvasia Puntinata and Cesanese which are vinified into different kinds of wines. The winery is renowned for its environment-friendly techniques including organic method, a photovoltaic system ensuring independent power generation, and local distribution using natural gas-fueled vehicles. On a particular day at Cincinnato, a wine tasting was dedicated to Bellone, the native white grape of Lazio. Cincinnato has six productions of Bellone (seven if you include the grappa) obtained through diverse vinification and aging processes. For the sparkling wines, there are Spumante Brut produced with the traditional method; and Kori Brut and Korl Pas Dosé which are produced with the charmat method. For the still wines, there are fresh and ready Castore, Enyo, the riserva version; and Solina, the late-harvest wine.
Bellone is a white grape variety also known as Cacchione or Uva Pane that traces its ancient origin in the Castelli Romani area even in the Roman times. It is cultivated almost exclusively in the region (rarely in other regions), particularly in the southern part of Rome up to the provinces of Latina between the areas of Castelli Romani and Cori, and the coastal areas of Anzio and Nettuno. The berries are medium to large in dimension, have delicate thin skin, and high sugar concentration. It ripens late and usually harvested in the first ten days of October. This variety is a part of the disciplinary of some DOC denominations in Lazio but it is also increasingly vinified in purity for its good structure and fragrance. The olfactory characteristics give fruity notes especially of grapefruit and peaches with notes of almonds while the gustatory characteristics present good acidity, good structure and a lightly bitter finish. Usually vinified in stainless steel, it is meant to be drunk young, within a couple years of its production.
Spending half a day in the winery for the tasting of their wines, I tried six different kinds of vinification of the Bellone variety. Cincinnato is a wine resort that offers room for staying and a restaurant that is glass-enclosed and overlooking the beautiful panorama of the vineyards. The cultivation in various types of soil gives them the distinctness of characteristics while the kind of vinification amplifies the various ways Bellone can best express itself in six different ways.
Brut is a sparkling wine made with the charmat or tank method. The grapes are harvested early when the acidity is high, first fermentation for 10 days with no malolactic fermentation then the second fermentation in pressurized stainless steel tanks for about 2 months and lastly, 4 months in the bottle. The straw yellow colored wine has a perlage with medium persistence, gives a delicate nose of white flowers and peach with a trace of bread crust and a pleasant acidity in the mouth.
Kori Pas Dosè is a sparkling wine made with the classic method (metodo classico), the second fermentation of which takes places in the bottle then matured on the lees for a minimum of 18 months but can also reach 24 to 30 months, depending on the vintage. The straw yellow colored wine has numerous fine and persistent perlage. In the nose, it has a good intensity which presents some of the varietal characteristics especially the white pulp fruits and hints of sweet bread. The acidity in the palate is prominent, a skeleton of sapidity and a touch of sweetness.
Kori Brut di Bellone is a sparkling wine made with the classic method (metodo classico), the second fermentation of which takes places in the bottle then matured on the lees for a minimum of 18 months but can also reach 24 to 30 months, depending on the vintage. With this label, I tried both 2015 and 2016 disgorgement. Both wines displayed a straw yellow to golden color, numerous, fine and persistent perlage, elegance, and notable acidity in the palate which ends long with a pleasant smoothness. The 2016, which matured on the lees for 36 months displayed a very good harmony of characteristics.
For the starting still wine version of the Bellone with an average of 400,000 bottles of annual production, Castore 2019 was in the tasting of the wines. It has a medium straw yellow color, a nose of white pulp fruits and flowers followed by fresh herbs, and acidity in the mouth. Priced at €5.50, it’s one of the best sellers of the winery both in Italy and abroad for the good quality it gives.
What stood out was Enyo 2018, 100% Bellone from their best 30-year old vines that went through a 3-month maturation on fine lees with malolactic fermentation. Only on its 2nd vintage with a limited number of 4,000-bottle production a year, it sold out immediately. The result is a complex wine with the presence of the varietal characteristics and strong notes of minerality for the volcanic soil where they were cultivated. Harmonious and elegant, such a pleasant white wine to drink. At €12, it’s a good wine to drink and keep in the cellar for a while.
Although Solina, the late harvest sweet wine obtained from Bellone grapes was not among the main bottles in the tasting, it was included in the lunch which was paired with local cheese and desserts. The grapes used were from their 40-year old vines, left to dry in the plant under the autumn sun for about 50 days and harvested at the end of November. The fermentation and aging took place in tonneaux oak for 18 months then refined in the bottle for 6 months before its release. The golden yellow wine has quite a complexity in the nose with notes of honey, dried flowers, and mature yellow stone fruit while in the mouth it gives a light acidity and long persistence.