As a child and young teenager the fields and lanes of the family estate, Casale del Giglio, were nothing more to Antonio Santarelli than a place where he could spend carefree weekends and indulge his budding passion for motorbike riding; but all that changed when he joined his father Dino in the family business. By then, a shrewd twenty-five year old, he knew instinctively that their unconventional land in the Agro Pontino valley, some
30 miglia south of Rome, offered a unique opportunity to attempt something
no-one had ever attempted before.
The total lack of any vine growing tradition in the area meant that Antonio and his father could give free rein to their pioneering ideas. Some of the most famous ampelographers and university researchers of the day were convinced by these ideas and were inspired to join them in a research project which was launched in 1985 with the planting of close to 60
different experimental vines in Casale del Giglio’s soil.
No scheme as bold and daring had ever been approached in such a scientific way before and Casale del Giglio’s young winemaker, Paolo Tiefenthaler, was to become its leading light.
The believers in the endeavour were amply rewarded for their audacity however when they achieved their first significant results from the red grape varieties Syrah and Petit Verdot and from whites such as Sauvignon, Viognier and Petit Manseng. These varieties have given rise to monovarietal wines and to blends, all of which offer excellent value for money.
The estate’s flagship wine is the rich, red Mater Matuta (Syrah with a touch of Petit Verdot); a proud thoroughbred, fullbodied, silky and seductive on the palate with aromas of woodland fruits, coffee beans and spice. Aphrodisium, a sweet golden-yellow late harvest wine, is a blend of Petit Manseng, Viognier, Greco and Fiano.
In parallel with the challenge to identify and select those Italian and international
grape varieties best suited to the microclimate of the Agro Pontino, Casale del Giglio
has always maintained a keen interest in Lazio’s native grape varieties rediscovered
in areas close to the property; such varieties include the Biancolella of Ponza, the
Bellone of Anzio, the Cesanese of Olevano Romano and the Pecorino of Accumoli.