There I was in the town of Frascati with two friends from California. I was supposed to visit Piglio the next day while they were going to get their first taste of Rome.
That night, we we decided to check out a little restaurant in Frascati that had caught our eye a couple days before.
"No, we don't have a wine list but let me bring you our terrific house wine," the owner told us proudly before starting to take our orders.
A big glass jug filled with the owner's homemade Frascati arrived. The color of the wine had changed to dark brown.
Generally, simple white wines, such as Frascati, start out clear/white in March/April and normally continue to progress to yellow-ish, then to a golden and amber color throughout the summer until they finally turn into the color of fall leaves: Dark brown. A pretty color for dying leaves but not for wine. This wine was dead on arrival.
"Do you have any other wine, we could try?", we asked.
"Yes, I do have ONE BOTTLE of red that I could bring you."
Minutes later he arrived with a bottle of CESANESE in his hand. But it wasn't just someone's cesanese. It was a bottle of Cesanese made by the very producer I was going to visit the next day. The restaurant's only bottle! And it was the estate's top bottling, the rarest Cesanese produced in Lazio and the very Cesanese Campanile had asked me to look for. Isn't it amazing how life is full of surprises that just can't be explained.
The wine was absolutely perfect! And so was the food and the evening.
The next day I arrived in Piglio.
The winemaker had told me that his phone had stopped working. So I asked several people in the town for directions. I got many but never a right one.
By 6:00 PM I had toured the whole village but still had no clue how to find my way to the Cesanese producer. The two maps I had bought didn't show his location. I gave the long dirt road down at the bottom of the village a second try. It started to get dark. No wineries, no people, no street lights. I turned around again when all of a sudden I saw a man in rubber boots carrying a bucket walking in the direction I had just come from. I stopped. He was my man!
I made my third u-turn on that dirt road that day. He jumped into the car and we drove 'home' where I met his daughter and her fiancée who was studying foreign languages at the Vatican.
We tasted and talked sitting around a table outside in the garden until very late into the night.
One of life's great moments.
Over the past 20 years I have been back to Cesanese country (Piglio, Olevano and Affile) many times to taste all sorts of Cesaneses and talked with producers, enologists, and restaurant owners throughout the Cesanese zone to learn as much as possible about true, authentic, top-quality Cesanese.
And that's how I came across Fernando Proietti, owner of Az. Agr. Proietti, THE rising Cesanese star.
But that's another 'pointless' story.