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Damiano Ciolli, now in his mid-thirties, belongs to a family of farmers who has been making wine for 4 generations selling it only in demi-johns to neighbors and Roman osterie. In his teens he was not interested in the family business, months and months of work just to produce bulk wine that would sell for a pittance. But he loved wines and traveled through Italy and France to meet winemakers and taste great wines. In the spring of 2001 there was a frost that compromised much of the “Ciolli” historic vineyard planted by the grandfather in 1953. Damiano convinced his father to let him try to salvage whatever possible from these vines rather than extirpate and replant them. Strong from the knowledge acquired in his wine travels, Damiano took the challenge, 2001 turned out to be an exceptional vintage and the first Cesanese “Cirsium” was born, and so was a new voice for the wines of Southern Lazio and its foremost red grape: Cesanese.
The winery is in Olevano Romano, 35 miles south of Rome, 450 meters above sea level, the soil is mostly volcanic. There are 5 hectares planted mostly with Cesanese “Affile” and about 10% with Cesanese comune vines; the former is the most noble of the two clones, elegant and complex, the latter richer in color and fruit, but usually less elegant. Half hectare was planted in 1953 with alberello (bush vines) where the “Cirsium” comes from and the remainder was planted in 1981 and 2002 in spurred cordon and guyot system, where the “Silene” comes from. Cirsium and Silene are the names of wild flowers that are commonly found amidst the rows of vines in the countryside of Olevano Romano.
The two wines are quite different from each other, the Silene, aged in concrete tanks for one year, conveys the more delicate qualities of Cesanese, its flowery aromatic components, a bright disposition and great versatility at the table. The Cirsium, undergoes a longer maceration and then goes through malolactic fermentation in oak barrels, where it ages for 18 months. It is deeper, more complex and powerful.
The total production is about 24.000 bottles.