Warm, friendly, easy-going Mauro Merz is a man on a mission. As head winemaker for Fontana Candida, the leading name in wines from Italy’s Frascati district, Merz is the driving force behind a movement dedicated to ushering in a return to the high-quality, small-production wines of the past. Merz sees his mission as twofold: reviving the wines of Frascati and updating the image of the Frascati region. Since joining Fontana Candida in 2001 Merz has steadily implemented his vision to restore the typicity of Frascati wines and to combat standardization. Level-headed Merz is no dreamer, but he is a self-confessed perfectionist. The less productive, more complex, traditional Malvasia di Lazio is being re-emphasized over the higher yielding Malvasia di Candia, with its super-size bunches of grapes. Local growers, supported by Fontana Candida’s team of viticultural experts, are being challenged to produce better quality grapes – whatever the variety.

Strict selection and painstaking vinification are all in the service of bringing back the Frascatis of yore: complex, fuller-bodied, and able to age as desired.