The estate was founded in the late 40s by Alberto’s grandfather Leopoldo who began to cultivate a small plot of about half a hectare with Cesanese right on Colle San Giovenale. There he built the original cellar where they made wine up to the early 2000s. Alberto’s father Alino expanded the holding to 9 hectares and sold most of the grapes to the Cantina Sociale of Olevano Romano, keeping a little back to make wine which they sold in bulk on the local market.
In September 2008, Alberto officially took over the estate, although with a Master’s in Economics and Management, he had intended to pursue a different path in a multinational company.
The pull of his roots and a love of the wine world (started with a bottle of Amarone among friends), led him to see the potential of their land and their native varieties, Cesanese di Affile and Passerina del Frusinate. They started to produce grapes following a more natural approach, more than halving the yields per hectare, using only copper and sulfur, and naturally not using chemical herbicides. Alberto likes to remember when his father in 2010 – a year too generous for the quantities of grapes produced – couldn’t bear to watch the “destruction” as he was thinning the vines:
“It was one of the very few times when I saw him leave for a few days on holiday with my mother.”
The estate is located about 40 km southeast of Rome in Paliano, the last municipality in the province of Frosinone. The vineyards border also the neighboring municipality, Olevano Romano, where they produce the DOC by the same name.
The vineyards are between 300 and 350 meters above sea level, on the slopes of the Ernici Mountains where Mount Scalambra stands out at 1420 meters. So the mild breezes coming off the Tyrrhenian Sea are blocked by the chain creating ideal conditions for the cultivation of the vine and in particular for the Cesanese d’Affile, a very particular vine that needs such conditions to mature well and not be compromised by attacks of botrytis and rot. The soils are quite diverse with predominance of clayey and calcareous soils of volcanic origin.
Since the fifteenth century their land has been strongly linked to the Colonna family, because from 1425 Pope Martin V Colonna invested his nephews Prospero, Odoardo and Antonio lords of Paliano. Alberto decided to give historically relevant names to three of his labels: Lepanto, Maddalena and Duchessa all take their names from local history:
Lepanto refers to the famous battle when Marcantonio Colonna, then Prince of Paliano, was appointed by Pope Pius V commander of papal troops, and in 1571 won an epic victory in respect of the Ottoman Empire. La Maddalena refers to the famous painting La Maddalena in Estasi by Caravaggio, which was painted in 1606 inside the Colonna Palace of Paliano, where he had taken refuge in order to escape a death sentence imposed by the papal authorities for killing one of his street mates after a gambling dispute. The Duchess refers to a text by Stendhal, La Duchesse de Palliano, published in 1838 telling a true story in which the Duke of Paliano Giovanni Carafa was accused in 1559 of killing his wife and his alleged lover.
2007 was a very important year, as they transitioned from a conventional approach to an organic one, ie they stopped using chemicals. From 2015 they follow the organic protocol of prof. Mazzilli aimed at the considerable reduction of copper and sulfur in the vineyard by replacing it with corroborating products that favour the natural stimulation of the plant’s defenses. As fertilization we only use cover crops: wheat with clover, field beans and barley if we consider it necessary.
Alberto’s work is based on the concept of making wine respecting the environment and the bond with the territory and his family history. To do this they try to use techniques that are as environmentally friendly as possible, to focus on the autochthonous varieties respecting the grapes and trying to rediscover traditional processing methods. All this to guarantee a future and to enhance the incredible peculiarities of their vines.