Whether you’re sitting in your garden, nibbling on Bruschetta, slurping raw oysters, or savoring a fresh, zesty tartare di manzo, I can’t think of a better pairing than a crisp Rosé from either of the excellent 2015 or 2016 vintages. Excellent examples of these wines are starting to appear in the market and fortunately, they are as affordable as they are delicious.
For years Rosé was given a bad name in the wake of the sweet White Zinfandel surge. Don’t be confused and don’t be prejudiced by those sweet, cloying wines. These wines, real rosati, have nothing to do with that. They are crisp, refreshing, dry and complex. In this mini report, we bring you reviews of several Rosé from across Italy and we discuss the stylistic differences and names that define these wines.
So what’s in a name? Well, in Italy, as with many other anecdotes, it depends where you are. A Rosé by any other name you say? Perhaps in Italy’s case, it could be “A Rosé by every other name.” Rosato means Rosé and you will see wines labeled each way. Mostly, these will be wines from Central Italy. In Veneto, they will be labeled “Chiaretto”. In Abruzzo, “Cerasuolo”. And still further north, the term “Ramato” is used. Are there differences? Not significant ones. They are indeed, tutti Rosati!
We’re starting with an example from Tuscany. The 2016 Collemattoni Rosato is 100% Sangiovese from Montalcino. A mélange of colors like a Tuscan sunset, this salmon hued wine is fresh, lively and juicy. Aromas of crushed strawberry, melon, watermelon and minerals, the flavors carry through on the palate with fresh persistence. Delicious with prosciutto, we then paired it with slightly spicy, dry rubbed pork ribs and it was excellent. 90 points. Not yet released.
The next wine also hails from Tuscany, but from further north in the Chianti Classico Commune Castelnuovo Berardenga. The 2016 Castello di Bossi Rosato is a blend of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Cabernet and debuted in the 2015 vintage. Made from the free run juice destined for Bossi’s Corbaia Cabernet, this wine is a pale Salmon in color and displays more herbal notes than the Collemattoni. White peaches, cypress, and strawberry notes define the aromas while the palate is fresh and zesty with cranberry, strawberry and limestone flavors. Paired wonderfully with bruschetta pomodoro and spaghetti with toasted breadcrumbs and pecorino. 89 points. $16-$18.
Ahhh, now here’s where it gets complicated. But, not really. The next wine hails from Abruzzo so naturally they don’t call it Rosé or Rosato. They call it “Cerasuolo” which is not to be confused with the Sicilian DOCG of the same name. Lost yet? No worries. In Abruzzese dialect, Cerasuolo simply means “Cherry Red” and it’s the given name to the wine since the color is noticeably different than the two previous examples.
The 2015 Cerulli Spinozzi Cerasuolo comes from the single Calvano vineyard and is 100% Montepulciano. The color is decidedly more cranberry in hue; there is nothing salmon about this wine. The aromas are more reminiscent of a red wine with strawberry and cherry notes backed by flowers and Mediterranean herbs. Crisp and refreshing, the flavors follow the aromas with nice concentration and length. Paired very well with Caprese salad and seared Tuna steaks with capers. 89 points. About $15.
Now we head back to Tuscany and another example from Montalcino; this bottle courteously labeled Rosé so as not to cause confusion. The 2015 Castello Banfi Centine Rosé is 1/3 each of Sangiovese, Cabernet and Merlot. A pale, almost onion skin color, this Rosé boasts lots of watermelon and cantaloupe aromas with flavors following the nose and adding hints of white flowers. Fresh and zesty, this was great as an aperitif but also paired well with prosciutto wrapped grissini. A noted value around $9-$11. 88 points and widely available. The 2016 will arrive on the market shortly.
I think it was Eddie Murphy who famously exclaimed: “Hey, bubbles man!” Well yes, we have sparkling Rosé too. The 2011 Banfi Cuvée Aurora Rosé Alta Langa brings yet another grape to this article; 100% Pinot Noir. Due to requirements of aging, 2011 is the current vintage so don’t let the date deter you. Produced from hillside vineyards just south of Alba, Cuvee Aurora is 100% Pinot Noir that is aged in French barrique and left in contact with the yeast for 24 months during which time traditional riddling takes place. The wine retains a slight pink hue from the Pinot Noir skins but displays classic notes of mineral, white flowers, green apple and vanilla. Crisp and lively, it was the perfect aperitif but also paired well with prosciutto and melon, and our Pan Roasted Tile Fish. Lovely value for the finesse and complexity. Try finding vintage dated Rosé Champagne for under $150. This is a steal. 92 points, about $30. Also, you notice in the photo below we served the wine in a red wine glass. Throw your flutes away! Winemakers never use them.
Finally, the next example hails from Veneto. The 2016 Sartori di Verona Bardolino Chiaretto is a unique blend of 40% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, and 10% each of Merlot, Corvinone and Molinara. The grapes are harvested from hillside vineyards in the Bardolino Classico district alongside the shores of Lake Garda.
The wine is a full blush color and has attractive aromas of white flowers, melon and minerals. The flavors follow the nose and add a stone fruit quality (nectarine?) that is attractive. Fresh and lively, this paired well with salmon, grilled chicken breast and strawberries drizzled with balsamic glaze. Nice value around $15. 88 points.
As you move your dining or cocktail hours outside this Spring and Summer, don’t neglect these fine Rosé wines. Many producers from the regions noted above produce attractive wines at good values. If you select wines from the 2015 or 2016 vintages, you should find a fresh, appealing wine that is the ideal way to temper the heat of the outdoors.
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