Casale del Giglio and the Indigenous Cesanese Grape

Cesanese grapes (Image courtesy viviilvino.it)

Cesanese grapes (Image courtesy viviilvino.it)

Have you tried any Italian wines made with the Cesanese grape?  Probably not, but Casale del Giglio from the Lazio region of Italy is trying to bring this red grape some recognition. Cesanese is a low yield, late-ripening variety which lends itself to late harvesting. Each cluster is small, sparse and elongated, the berries oval and medium-sized. Their harvest does not take place until late October as the vineyards are situated on relatively high, hilly slopes.

Casale del Giglio have been producing two wines from this grape. Both are Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT). The IGT designation was created after the DOC and DOCG designations in Italy in order to accommodate winemakers who did not meet all the DOC or DOCG regulations but were still producing great wines.  The IGT was originally created for Super Tuscan wines, which used non-indigenous grapes, e.g. Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, in their blends, and were outstanding wines, such as Sassicaia.

The Matidia Cesanese IGT wine was named after Matidia who was a member of Rome’s Atonine dynasty.  She was the niece of Emperor Trajan and mother-in-law of Emperor Hadrian. Upon her death in AD 119 Hadrian delivered the funeral oration and proclaimed her a deity. Statues of Matidia were erected throughout the Empire, coins bearing her effigy were minted and a temple in Rome’s Campo Marzio was dedicated to her. I think that the grapes for this wine come from a separate vineyard to their Cesanese IGT wine.

My Tasting Notes

Casale del Giglio Cesanese IGT 2018 – A very deep, almost 98% opaque ruby colour.  It has a medium intensity nose of ripe fruits; plums, red and black fruits, along with sweet spices and a touch of floral and oak.  With decanting you can add cherry and chocolate aromas.  This wine is dry and round.  Smooth with medium acidity and fine tannins.  Ripe plums, sweet ripe red and black fruits, and a touch of floral and cloves.  The wine also has a tart red fruit edge.  It has a medium length finishing soft, with very light tannins.  Again ripe red and black fruit, light sweet spices and some pepperiness.  There is initially more acidity on the finish but with a few minutes of air, the tannins become stronger. With decanting you can add red cherries, raspberries and a hint of chocolate flavours, and less floral and cloves.  I also really noted a minerality to the wine after decanting.  A solid wine which you can enjoy either upon opening or with decanting.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars  Nice ripe fruit nose with plums, red and black fruits, and sweet spices aromas.  Very smooth and round with ripe plums, red and black fruits and sweet spices.  Fine tannins.  More acidity than tannins upon first opening, but with decanting the tannins become a bit stronger and gives you a dry finish.

Casale del Giglio Matidia Cesanese IGT 2017 – A deep, around 95% opaque ruby colour in the glass.  This wine has a lighter intensity red fruit nose, with touches of oak, toast and roses.  It has the same nose with decanting but you can add some smokiness and red cherries.  This wine is dry, very round, silky smooth with a thicker mouthfeel.  Fine tannins and vibrant acidity.  It has floral, red and black fruits, and red plum flavours along with a touch of vanilla.  There is also a mineral streak in this wine.  It has a medium length, finishing with sweet ripe red and black fruit, more red than black, and oak at the very end.  Fine light tannins. With decanting I think the red fruit flavours are more prominent than black fruits, plus you can add red cherries and raspberry flavours.  You also get dusty tannins on the finish.  Again no preference for decanting.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars A very light nose with mainly red fruit aromas.  It offers a silk glove on the palate, with a mix of red and black fruit, plums and a touch of oak.  Fine tannins that will get stronger with decanting. A top quality wine.

Casale del Giglio Cesanese IGT 2018 and Matidia Cesanese IGT 2017 with wines in glasses

Casale del Giglio Cesanese IGT 2018 and Matidia Cesanese IGT 2017 with wines in glasses

Where Can I Buy These Wines?

The Alberni and Bute BC Liquor Stores carry the Cesanese IGT wine, but not the Matidia.  The following restaurants carry both wines:

  • Arriva,
  • Osteria Savio Volpe, and
  • Tap Urban Cafe

Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.

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