Rosé wine – so-called Vino Rosato – is always a type of wine that pairs well with summer. Therefore, the theme this month in the Italian Food, Wine, and Travel group is perfect as it focuses on Italian Rosé wines made with native grapes.
I like Rosé wines and I am a terroir-nerd, so what better summer theme for me than this #thinkpink one?
The perfect one, I get to talk about the beauty of Rosé wines and two areas with unique terroirs.
About Rosé Wines…
Often Rosé wines have had and have a sort of reputation as something ‘on the side’, something ‘pink’ that suits especially women, a wine you drink only in the summer, a sort of fashion trend, a wine that is ‘bled’ off the main must that is fermenting to become red wine, etc.
However, did you know that Rosé wine, in fact, is considered the oldest type of wine in the world?
Indeed, in ancient times the wines produced were lighter in body and in color, thus very similar to modern days rosé wines. It was only in the Middle Ages with the invention of the press in France and a new way of looking at winemaking that things started to change. See my previous article Rosexpo, With A Focus On The Identity Of Rosé Wines.
An example of a red wine that started out as a sort of Rosé, is the Cacc’e Mmitte red wine which is a tiny DOC in the area of Lucera in Puglia. Marika from Cantina La Marchesa told me that it was a wine light in color and body that the farmers drank when working in the fields in the summer heat as it was refreshing and not too heavy.
Recently, in Italy, Rosé wines have risen in the ranks and become a type of wine to consider as a category of their own. They are not only a trendy, light, and pale pink summer beverage but have shown that they are often also structured, have character and longevity, and can be gastronomical. With the latter statement, we can take Negroamaro Rosé wines as an example as they, just as Elizabeth Gabay said at a rosé tasting in Puglia two years ago, need to be paired with food to reach their fullest potential.
Also, globally Rosé wines have been on the move towards stardom for the last decade or so. Rosé wines had strong growth on the market (126 million liters) between 2011 and 2016 and it is expected to grow to 135 million liters up until 2022. Now, with the event of Covid-19 this year, things will most likely change a lot. The main markets for Rosé wines so far have been the US, South Africa, France, Denmark, and Australia. (See the article Consumption. Rosé confirmed as “key trend” of 2018 in Gambero Rosso.)
Returning to Italy, the initiative of Consorzio Tutela del Chiaretto e del Bardolino (with Angelo Peretti as the mastermind behind the initiative) to set up a collaboration between some key Italian wine consortiums for Rosé making has been essential for the development of the world of Rosé wines in Italy. The collaborative initiative includes Consorzio del Valtènesi, Vini d’Abruzzo (Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo), Castel del Monte, and Salice Salentino (both in Puglia).
In this article, I will talk about Rosé wines from two classical native grape varieties. Yes, it is true that I generally try to write about lesser-known grapes and wine areas but lately, I have tasted two wines I just felt I wanted to share with you here. The areas where these two Rosé wines are produced are still less in the spotlight than others.
In the title of this article, it alludes to a sparkling Rosé wine but I have decided to throw a bonus Rosé wine into the mix. That is because I tasted it only the other week and it is produced in a small magical corner of Italy with a terroir all of its own.
Let’s find out…
August With #ItalianFWT
The theme of August 2020 was Exploring the Pink Wines Made from Italy’s Native Grapes in the Italian Food, Wine, and Travel (#ItalianFWT) group. As mentioned above, I will be focusing on two terroir-driven Rosé wines made by Nebbiolo and Sangiovese.
A Nebbiolo Sparkling Rosé from Roero…
Recently, I had the pleasure of tasting Maria Teresa Nebbiolo D’Alba DOC Spumante Rosè Brut 2017 from Antica Cascina Conti di Roero winery in the Roero area. I was at a small local wine event – Vini Audaci – that was probably one of the very first wine tasting events post-Covid.
What did I find so special about this sparkling Nebbiolo rosé then?
Well, I instantly liked it for its elegance and finesse when I tasted it. Listening then to the owner Luigi Roagna talk about Roero and its terroir while I continued to enjoy this sparkling rosé, it felt like you were indeed transported away to the beautiful landscape he was talking about.
Luigi and his wife Daniela explained that the soil in their area of Roero is sandy and calcareous and rich in fossil shells, as the land used to be a seabed millions of years ago. This gives a lot of minerality to the wines and makes the tannins in the Nebbiolo softer than in other areas of Piemonte.
The distinct notes of quince make the Nebbiolo made in the Roero area stand out. In fact, in the fresh and structured Maria Teresa Nebbiolo Spumante Rosè, you immediately feel the notes of quince followed by a floral touch of rose petals. This is a sparkling rosé made for special occasions.
A Magical Sangiovese Rosé from Potentino Castle…
On a warm July afternoon some time ago, I entered a magical world with a castle situated on a top of a hill somewhere in the heart of Tuscany.
I am talking about Castello di Potentino.
This is a place where agriculture, winemaking, history, politics, literature, millennial long storytelling, and much more are woven together…A place that is an intertwining of British and Italian as well as general international mindsets and worlds.
Castello di Potentino is owned by the family of Charlotte Horton and her stepbrother Alexander Greene who together have turned it into a hidden gem for terroir-driven winemaking and a center for ‘high culture’ (as Charlotte Horton expressed in the article Reviving a Centuries-Old Abandoned Castle and, With It, a Way of Life by Marella Caracciolo Chia in the New York Times Style Magazine) by the foot of Mount Amiata.
As you may have guessed by the surname Greene, Charlotte and her brother Alexander are great-nephews of the English novelist Graham Greene.
I was introduced to Charlotte Horton by Franco Ziliani and Giorgio Rinaldi. I was instantly amazed by all the things she and her family have accomplished at Castello di Potentino and I was very curious to learn more about their wines.
I will tell you more about Charlotte Horton, her family history, Castello di Potentino, and their winemaking in a coming article. Today, I will focus on their Sangiovese rosé wine.
As I mentioned above, the castle and the valley below Mount Amiata have a micro-terroir and climate all of their own. Viticulture and winemaking date to the Etruscan period here. They have unique biodiversity, winds that are blowing in from the sea, a diurnal range, and the soil is volcanic.
Furthermore, they have volcanic stones spread out in the soil that, in reality, are fossil fertilizers excellent for viticulture. Another particular thing, as is typical in volcanic areas, as Charlotte Horton told us, is that you can find ‘palmenti‘ on the grounds of the Potentino estate. This all contributes to the uniqueness and quality of their wines.
The Sangiovese Rosé Jaspidem IGT Toscana 2019 is a very interesting rosé wine though with a bit different notes than one might generally find in a Sangiovese. It is very fruit-forward with notes of red apple and currant rather than cherry and on the palate, you feel a taste of wild strawberries. It is a wine with good acidity and a typical trait in their wines is the saltiness, where you feel an influence from the sea.
What better way to #thinkpink during the summer heat than with two first-class rosé wines such as these?