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A Visit to Cantina Ortaccio in Lazio

A Visit to Cantina Ortaccio in Lazio

Now that the hectic month of December is over, it's time to catch up on a couple of visits I made in November, starting with Cantina Ortaccio...

This is the winemaking project of Massimo Antonuzi and his partner Patrizia Montanari who live in the village of Latera, Lazio. We are in central Italy, about a 2 hour drive north from Rome. 

What struck me initially when we arrived was the lack of vines around the villages. Lake Bolsena, where Cantina Ortaccio is based, is not an industrial wine region. There are however a few famous names in the natural wine world here such as Le Coste (Gianmarco Antonuzi is a relative of Massimo) and Andrea Occhipinti. On the first evening, we dined at a restaurant called Lanuorino in the nearby town of Montefiascone where we were able to try many of the local natural wine names for very reasonable (i.e. non-London) prices. I would definitely recommend a visit if you are ever nearby. 

Cantina Ortaccio Latera Lake Bolsena Lazio Italian Organic Natural Wine Lazio Massimo Antonuzi

The next morning we went to meet Max at his home and he gave us a tour of his cellar which is directly underneath the house. Whilst his family has lived in this area for many generations (his grandfather was born in nearby Gradoli), Max was born in Rome. He worked in the city as an architect before immersing himself in the wine scene. After working in local wine bars, he opened his own place from 2003 until 2013 when he left to become a winemaker.

Cantina Ortaccio Italian Organic Natural Wine Lake Bolsena Lazio Italy

(The cellar of Cantina Ortaccio)

In 2005 he started selling natural wine but this was not a new concept for him. As we make the short journey to some of his nearby vineyards, he explains the idea around his Bianco Dritto cuvée. At the age of 14, his grandfather gave him 365 bottles of skin-contact Procanico, one for him to drink on each day of the year (!!!). Every vintage, Max aims to recreate this wine from memory. You can see his passion ignite as he talks of these happy times from his youth. The wine is great as well. I really love the concentrated melon and orange flavours. Maybe a bottle a day wouldn't be so bad??

Massimo Antonuzi Cantina Ortaccio Italian Organic Natural Wine Lake Bolsena Lazio Italy

Next we journey to Max's most serene and picturesque vineyards right on the shore of Lake Bolsena. The Procanico vines (that produce the Bianco Dritto wine) are interspersed with olive trees which adds to the beauty of the site but Max insists they make harvesting more difficult. 

Cantina Ortaccio vineyard Lake Bolsena Lazio Italy Organic Natural Wine

(Procanico vines and olive tree by Lake Bolsena)

Finally it's time for lunch so we head back to the house where Patrizia has already begun preparing what turns out to be a serious feast. Pasta with sage, pumpkin and locally foraged mushrooms, beef cooked in red wine and local cheeses are all generously provided whilst we drink current and older vintages of wines from the cellar. All the wines have aged amazingly well, particularly the Bianco Dritto so I make a note to save a few in the Highbury Library cellar for years to come.

Massimo Antonuzi Cantina Ortaccio Lake Bolsena Lazio Italy Italian Organic Natural Wine

(Alex of Wines Under The Bonnet and Max on the shore of Lake Bolsena)

Over lunch Max talks of his time in Rome (he was a season ticket holder at Lazio) and how he made the decision to return to the area he grew up to make wine as his ancestors did. He comes across as a very humble individual with no grandiose expectations. He simply wants to honour the traditions of his grandfather's culture and produce something authentic and honest.

You can see what we have in stock from Cantina Ortaccio here

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