Why the European rose is much more than France alone

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For a month now, I have dreamed of Italy and the trip that never took place. Past memories of beaches overlooking the blue Mediterranean, winding paths for hiking in the Dolomites and trabocchi fishing platforms in the Adriatic Sea, where you can dine at sunset, play like a movie loop in my fantasies.

Not to mention the freshly made pasta, espresso, ice cream, truffles and, of course, vino.

So in August my long-awaited visit was made via a tour of the country’s little-known rosatos, or rose wines, which are produced in some of the most beautiful places in Italy.

Members of a new movement, Rosautoctono, want to chart its future as a high quality wine made from indigenous grapes and remind people that it has a long history as an everyday wine.

They push the term ‘rosa’ to describe the country’s best rose wines, although so far only a few wineries put it on the label.

Italian rosas offer a wider range of shades than French rosés, from pale salmon to an intense dark cherry pink. The diversity of tastes ranges from light and bright to sweet, round and fruity and even bold, rich and full-bodied. They are full of salty flavors, cherries and herbs that will always be delicious on the table long after Labor Day.

In this country of hundreds of indigenous grape varieties, each region has its own version, often with its own name. Professor Attilio Scienza, scientific director of the Vinitaly International Academy, highlights several regions known for the rose: Bardolino near Lake Garda; Valtenesi in Lombardy; Abruzzo; Salice Salentino and Castel del Monte from Puglia; and Ciro from Calabria.

Aerial view over Langhe vineyards in autumn, Piedmont, Italy.

Ian d’Agata, author of two books on the native grape varieties of Italy, says that six regions produce superb rosés, including negroamaro (Puglia), Montepulciano (Abruzzo) and nebbiolo (Piedmont), but he cannot refrain from adding a few, like grignolino and sangiovese. And, he points out, Italians only consume 7% of the rose wines they produce.

The high-quality examples didn’t really become popular in Italy until the 2000s, says Jeremy Parzen, who hosts the influential Italian wine website Dobianchi.com. He is convinced that their popularity in the United States prompted Italian winemakers to increase production to take advantage of the trend, and then their quality began to gain the attention of Italians themselves. “Rosato is photogenic, ideal for the generation of Italians on Instagram”, quips Parzen.

Perhaps the official approval of pink prosecco in May, which will allow the first to go on sale in January 2021, will give all pink wines a boost in local consumption.

Ditto the entry for Dolce & Gabbana’s premium celebrity rosato, made by one of my favorite Sicilian producers, Donnafugata. It’s much better than necessary, but it’s still hard to find.

Which makes my “tour” all the more timely. And while I won’t have the chance to have a glass of rosato through Florence’s buchette del vino – the walk-through wine windows used during the 17th century bubonic plague epidemics are now being revived to sell wine in a socially distant way. – the rosatos below will taste equally delicious on my New England deck.

Some stars of the Italian dew scene.

Some stars of the Italian dew scene.

Vénétie: Cavalchina Bardolino Chiaretto 2019 – a rosé revolution in 2014 pushed producers in the Lake Garda region towards paler examples of the rose wines known as chiaretto di Bardolino, made from corvina, rondinella and molinara grapes. This bottle features crisp aromas of rose petals and delicate, crisp and spicy flavors of cherry and strawberry.

Friuli: 2019 Attems Rosé Pinot Grigio Cuivré – in the far northeast, crushed pinot grigio grapes were traditionally left on the rosy skins to take on color and flavor. This rich and spicy example shows mineral tones and a slightly bitter aftertaste that makes it superb with food.

Piedmont: 2019 Nervi-Conterno Nebbiolo Rosé wine – local nebbiolo grapes enter the famous Barolos of the region, but also give a flavorful liquorice character to the rose wines. This one, which also includes uva rara grapes, has floral aromas; savory, tangy and fresh herbal flavors; and a lot of texture.

Liguria: Lunaie Bosoni Rosato Mea Rosa 2019 – this great producer in northwestern Italy uses rare indigenous red grape vermentino nero to make a spicy and enticing wine with aromatic notes of pomegranate.

Toscane: Il Poggione Rosato Brancato 2019 – younger sangiovese vines whose grapes will one day enter the cellar’s Brunello give a lovely wine with aromas of mint, spices and ripe strawberries and satisfying round and fruity flavors.

Abruzzes: Tiberio Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo 2019 – the region’s red Montepulciano grapes are also part of its rosés, called cerasuolo d’Abruzzo. This pale fuscia-colored coulée is smoky, flavorful and silky, with aromas and tangy flavors of cherry and raspberry. It’s almost like a light red.

Puglia: Lion of Castris Five Roses Rosato 2018 – a grandfather of Italian rosés, first made in 1943 from negroamaro with a hint of malvasia nera, gives off scents of wild flowers and crisp flavors of crushed raspberry. The rose wine in the heel of the Italian boot, also known for thalassotherapy spas, dates back to the Greeks.

Calabre: 2019 Sergio Arcuri Il Marinetto Rosé – vineyards of gaglioppo grapes stretch along the coastline at the foot of the peninsula. Succulent, rich and bright orange-pink, this structured and textured organic wine has aromas of white flowers.

Sicile: Bonavita Terre Siciliane Rosato 2019 – The largest island in Italy is now a mecca for wine. This exceptional example of ruby ​​color comes mainly from nerello mascalese grapes grown in the northeastern tip of Sicily, overlooking the sea. It has fruity flavors of cranberry and raspberry and an exotic tang.

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This article was published under license from Bloomberg Media and the original article can be viewed here

Elin McCoy

Elin McCoy is an award-winning wine journalist and author and wine and spirits columnist for Bloomberg News.

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