As much as I love his Frascati, it took me a while to figure out Francesco De Sanctis. He is a shy and introverted person who does not let just anyone into his world. The De Sanctis family, in their elegant estate, host many incomers who, as lovers of wine as well as of typicality and authenticity, go beyond the borders of the Eternal City to discover this jewel just outside of Rome.

🇮🇹 Italiano

Hosting and illustrating one’s work with an open heart, however, is quite different from allowing anyone to discover the true self and deepest emotions. Those who read my articles know that to me this is a fundamental step to be able to tell the story of a winery, of its wines, and its protagonists.

It took me three visits to get to the point with Francesco! An afternoon spent between the vineyards, the winery and much more, during which I was able to focus on his personality at last. A puzzle made of numerous pieces that finally fell together into a harmonious and complete picture. Born among the vineyards of the family business, founded in 1816, he embraced his destiny as an all-round vigneron and went to college in Cormons, home of the Faculty of Enology of the University of Udine.

Francesco’s story begun like this as we walked the vineyards that in winter have a charm all of their own, almost poignant I dare say. The vines, especially the oldest ones, in total nudity, show their harmonious and sinuous silhouette, and the twilight makes everything so very evocative. The organic farm owns 86.5, with the typical varieties of Frascati DOC and Superiore DOCG: Malvasia Puntinata, Bombino la Malvasia di Candia and Trebbiano. As I paused to admire some truly monumental plants, Francesco went own with his story.

“These are the vines that pay the mortgage, my grandfather used to say!”

“But aren’t such old vines less productive?”

“Not the Malvasia. The more it grows, the more it produces, and the grapes are so good!”

As we strolled between the rows, the morphology of the vines suddenly changed. We have just crossed the threshold of the 2.5 acres that are so very dear to Francesco. A small vineyard of Cabernet Franc, a love born and consolidated when he was in Cormons. It took some time to overcome Papa Luigi’s puzzlement, but choices made from the heart always turn out to be the right ones in the end! It would not be the first time that a young man, in love with a grape variety alien to a specific territory, is determined to try to grow it nevertheless. And as far as I know, they have always been stories with happy endings!

“Cabernet Franc is the last one to be harvested here. This year, a few days before the harvest, a hailstorm hit severely in the middle of the night. I ran to the vineyard to check it out, and immediately gathered my team! We harvested everything that night. People may think I am out of my mind, but those grapes are my creatures. Were you not getting up at night to check that everything was all right in your children’s bedroom?

He nailed it! The hailstorm hit his Cabernet Franc, but Francesco would have done it anyway. His creatures, the fruit of a year of hard work, ready to “die” to come to new life, first in the vats, then in the bottle, until they get to our glasses to deliver moments of intense joy . When we talk about wines made with love and dedication, we talk about Francesco De Sanctis and all those who, like him, believe in a very short supply chain that impacts as little as possible on the environment, protecting both the consumer and nature.

Man’s bond with Nature is not simply a bucolic fantasy with a strong evocative power. It is a real and deep bond that sometimes creates an unbreakable intertwining of destinies. This is how, when Francesco’s grandfather died, his oldest and dearest Malvasia vine followed him on his journey to another dimension. This huge vine is displayed in the aging cellar among the wooden barrels. It was also recently painted on the facade of the winery as a symbol of its centuries-old history and life that is renewed each year. An inspiration that Francesco got during his recent visit to Champagne.

Francesco is always eager to know more, always looking for inspiration and new stimuli to help him improve the interpretation of his terroir in his wines. Back from a ski trip on the Dolomite in Trentino, he told me that he was inspired by the white wines of that area, so fresh and sharp. A style he is working to replicate in his wines. On tasting from the vats, the 2022 vintage shows a remarkable freshness and a truly delicious concentration of aromas. His Cabernet Franc oh boy! Although it was in a truly early stage, I could have had gallons of it! Moreover, it did not disfigure at all compared to its older brother aging in wooden barrels.

My visit ended with an appetizer while talking about art, piano, and tales of sailing, several passions that we share, including Pinot Noir from Burgundy. We opened a “Pinot Noir Vieilles Vignaes” from Albert Bichot and then, for a truly alternative comparison, also a bottle of Juno, his Cabernet Franc. Impossible to make comparisons between two territories and two grape varieties so far apart! One thing, however, I must tell you: in terms of finesse and pleasantness, Juno did keep up nicely with its cousin from Burgundy.

It is dark outside, time to go. Before we parted, Francesco gave me a bottle of Kerner from Abbazia di Novacella to take home. It is a white that particularly impressed him with its finesse and crispiness, and he wanted me to understand clearly where he is aiming with his wines.

I had it for dinner today and I can assure you that, as delicious as it was, De Sanctis’ can measure up with any other great Italian white, with the only disadvantage of having to climb the slope of prejudice that still penalizes Frascati.

© Riproduzione riservata

Enjoyed this article? Share it and subscribe to this Blog to support us. Join the other 1,205 followers and receive more content like this in your mailbox. Thank you!

Your personal data will never be shared with anyone and will only be used fo this purpose.