02 May 2022
This winery from the Agro Pontino has long been identified with the native varieties of Lazio. Anthium embodies the rediscovery of the bond between the territory and the Bellone grape, an ancient variety that was already known during the Roman era.
For over 30 years, Casale del Giglio has conducted numerous research and experimentation to introduce grape varieties that meld with local soil and climate. The winery has focused on reintroducing and enhancing outstanding native varieties of Lazio – at times considered to be extinct – through the employment of targeted agricultural and viticultural technologies.
In the wake of this initiative, a project dedicated to Bellone was launched: an ancient grape variety that was already known to the Romans. Famous Roman historian Pliny the Elder referred to it as "Uva Pantastica" or "pane d'uva" (a grape as good as bread).
It is not clear whether the name of this grape derives from the texture of its skin or was given by the fact that local laborers ate grapes with bread. What is certain is that Bellone was inserted in the Ampelographic Bulletin of 1881 and classified as part of the “Belli” family of vines. This relaunched the cultivation of Bellone for the production of mono-varietal wines and blends.
Bellone is grown almost exclusively in Lazio: from the hills of Rome to the Lepini mountains and along the coast of Anzio and Nettuno. According to legend, ancient winemakers preferred Bellone grown near the sea as it was considered to be the best.
Although Bellone is also present in other regions, it still is an extremely rare variety. The grape is also known by many other names such as Cacchione, Uva Pane, Zinna Vacca, Pacioccone and Arciprete, just to name a few. The vine yields compact, elongated and medium-large sized bunches with a conical shape that can occasionally have “wings”. The berries are quite large and have a spherical shape; the skin is yellow with streaks of brown; the plant generously yields flowers. The vine is vigorous, and the yield is abundant albeit irregular. The plants are arranged in rows and grow on suitable, fresh and well-drained soils that have medium texture, similar to those found around the town of Anzio. Thanks to its thick skin, the grape resists common vine diseases; the grapes reach complete maturation by the beginning of October.
In recent years, Bellone has conquered its rightful place among the native vines of Lazio and is increasingly vinified in purity as a mono-varietal wine thanks to its typical minerality and remarkable tannic structure.
ANTHIUM: BELLONE BY CASALE DEL GIGLIO
Since 2014, Casale del Giglio has been vinifying Anthium, made from 100% Bellone. This label is produced with ungrafted grapes from a vineyard planted on sandy-loamy soils near Anzio back in 1950.
The grapes are harvested towards the end of September, yielding around 60 quintals per hectare; the fruits then undergo cryomaceration at 8°C and spontaneous fermentation on the skin. After two days, the grapes are gently pressed, indigenous yeasts are added, and fermentation continues in 50-hl stainless steel tanks at a temperature of 20°C. The wine ages on its lees in stainless steel tanks for 6 months at 13°C before bottling. Aging continues in the bottle for another 2 months prior to its launch on the market.
Anthium is a wine that embodies a unique and identifying bond with the territory. It is the extraordinary expression of the summer sun: a rich and full explosion of tropical flavors of mango and papaya, which are masterfully balanced by a distinct acidity that makes it suitable for long aging in the bottle. An opulent, rich and persistent wine that reveals a long and surprising finish with hints of flowers and spices.
Bellone is perfect with a classic Roman dish: the Vignarola, made with fava beans, artichokes, peas, lettuce and spring onion. But also with pasta alla Gricia (which is said to have inspired the Amatriciana) given its distinct acidity and minerality that go well with fatty dishes. The wine is also perfect with slightly aged Pecorino Romano, lean cured meats or freshwater fish, especially local fritto misto.