Italian white wines have a mixed reputation. Some people love them; others think they lack aromatic intensity and are innocuous. I’ve had a few that stand out, but too often they lack distinction. I rather liked the Luna Mater when I first tasted it. Crisp and refreshing but not extraordinary. So I decided to give it some age to see if it would really blossom. It is of course a myth that white wines don’t age well. Some don’t but many will, and if you choose the right varietal it is usually worth the wait.
I waited six years from the vintage date before opening but I could have waited 2-3 more years. There is still plenty of life in this wine and the characteristics of age are very apparent without being overwhelming. The original pear and apple flavors have receded showing more apricot with lemon hints on the nose and palate, with almond highlights becoming more prominent. A pleasant, light layer of musty earth gives the nose interest, and the acidity has softened giving the wine more apparent viscosity. It is now soft and round on the palate and the finish is long and more languorous that you expect from a crisp white though it still features the bitter herb notes characteristic of many Italian wines. A few years of age have made this a much more interesting wine with dimension and depth. This is no longer just a food wine; it can be savored on its own although it surely enhanced the seafood pasta I served.
It has become fashionable to advise people to drink their wines young. This is not always good advice. One should be cautious about which wines to age, but this $15 dollar wine improved immensely since I first tasted it. Frascati should be added to the list of age-worthy whites that includes Chardonnay, Riesling, and Chenin Blanc.
The Luna Maters is a blend of Malvasia Bianca di Candia, Malvasia del Lazio, Bombino, and Greco from hillside vineyards not far from Rome. Some of the lot is fermented in small oak barrels but aged in the bottle.
Speaking of aging well—has anyone aged as well as David Bowie, some 45 years after Ziggy?