This new year, forget those heavy reds and overpriced fizz. Rosé wines are the way forward. Versatile, easy to drink yet increasingly sophisticated and structured, “pinks” are absolutely made for the cooler months, too. In fact, you would be surprised how these wines, mostly from the Mediterranean tradition can be extremely enjoyable all year round.
The reason? They are incredibly food-friendly, combining the freshness of white wines with some ‘grip’, thanks to the presence of tannins, as well as being very trendy.
It’s about time. These wines have experienced a meteoric rise over the past decade in part thanks to new brands and celebrity backing but also because of the increasing quality of Italian rosé wines. From barely-there blushes to robust fruity blends, they are not just a pre-meal option but something that absolutely deserves a seat at the dinner table.
So, take advantage of the bottles still stocked from the summer months (and the discounts that are likely available) to brighten up the heavy wine palate of winter and celebrate your new year with a different touch by pairing a structured, earthy rosé, with some of the season’s rich dishes, like roasted chicken or beef stew. Just make sure your bottle is well chilled before serving (between 7-12 degrees Celcius is ideal).
Knowing your Italian rosé wines
Some might say these wines are generally meant for women and that’s not totally wrong if you think they are as complex, refined and nuanced as we are. Especially after a certain age.
In general, a good rosé should be fruity with a crisp, dry finish. It might have a taste of summer berries, peaches, and a touch of cherry blossom. Others may have more of a savoury, grass element and thirst-quenching effect. To be truly appreciated though, rosé wines require a reasonably sensitive nose and palate, because although they often present a delicate appearance, in reality, they conceal a very diverse world, all waiting to be discovered. And if you start with the Italian ones you can’t get wrong.
In fact, Italy produces excellent rosés for all tastes and occasions. You can find great examples not only in areas traditionally known for their excellent pink wines (such as Puglia, Abruzzo, Veneto or Alto Adige) but also in the rest of Italy, with results in a surprising quality.
Rosé in Italy means a diverse range of colour nuances and an almost infinite possibility of vinification of local or international varieties that have been adopted for decades, often for more than a hundred years. A world in pink that fully reflects the great heritage of Italian wine, which is unique in the world. Even the sparkling version has many new features, each year becoming more and more surprising.
Italians do pink wine better
Here are the tasting notes I’ve collected over the past year while wandering around wineries and events in Italy. This is a small but by no means exhaustive list, which recounts just a small part of the countless sensations that quality Italian pink wines can offer.
Happy rosé wine to all!
- Kia Ròs 2020 – Domus Hortae (Puglia)
Grapes: 100% Nero di Troia
A delicious rosé that is never dull. Domus Hortae is the historic name of the Fioretti family residence. They have been cultivating their vines with particular care and dedication since 1788 in Ortanova, in the heart of the Apulian province of Foggia. Kia Ros’ name comes from Kairos meaning “a propitious moment for decision or action”. Kia Ròs 2020 is a soft, bright antique pink, giving delicate, delicious aromas of fresh red berries, roses and Mediterranean herbs. It is crisp, drinkable, savoury and responsive, leaving a good, clean palate.
My list couldn’t fail to include Antonella’s rosé: a woman with a great personality, tenacious and strong, who created the winery in 1988, betting everything on such an ancient vine as Aleatico. Ramatico ’19 is a special wine, coming from Lazio and the volcanic lands of Tuscia, with a particularly light shade and intense aromas of rosehip, geranium, strawberry, black cherry, orange, medical herbs. On the palate, it is savoury, fresh, well-balanced, with a long finish, which stays with you.
- Cesanese di Affile Doc Rosato Cybelle 2020 – Raimondo Wines (Lazio)
Grapes: 100% Cesanese di Affile
Another great rosé from Lazio that should NOT be missed from my top list! The name Cybelle is inspired by a Greek-Roman Goddess, the Great Mother of nature, animals and wild places. The winery, run by the talented Eleonora Perez, is located in the heart of the Affile DOC (Controlled Designation of Origin) appellation area, the last bastion of the Roman territory, close to Abruzzo and bordering the upper Ciociaria region. Its vineyards, which are located at 500 m above sea level, on extremely steep terrain with significant slopes, which makes for heroic viticulture. Cybelle 2020 is an elegant and mineral tasting rosé, with a fascinating antique pink colour. It releases scents of wild berries, raspberries, wild strawberries, which are accompanied by floral notes, iodine and hints of chalk and flint. In the mouth, it is fresh, harmonious, and beautifully balanced, but it is the savouriness that is the queen of the sensations it offers in the tasting.
- Mea Rosa’20 – Lunae Bosoni (Liguria)
Grapes: 100% Vermentino Nero
Produced from an almost forgotten vine which, when vinified as a rosé, offers a pleasant surprise. It’s the result of the commitment of the Cantina Lunae Bosoni in the improvement of the local grapes of such a small difficult territory, situated in the furthest corner of Liguria. A wine that shows all the character of its land: intense, with notes of roses, fresh strawberries and cherries, thyme, orange and dried fruit, combined with a touch of sea breeze. In the mouth, it is very well balanced: savoury, fresh, with structure, and a long-lasting taste.
- NoVintage Rosè – Feudi Spada (Umbria)
Grapes: 100% Sangiovese
A surprising sparkling “metodo classico” (classic method) wine, in which Alessandro Leoni, oenologist and owner of this ancient Umbrian winery, located in the medieval hamlet of Viceno di Castel Viscardo (Orvieto), has deliberately reduced the re-fermentation time to pay respect to the perfect multifaceted fragrance of the Sangiovese. This wine has an intense taste of roses and violets, cherries, currants, fresh pomegranate, and a slight aromatic herb, which bursts into the mouth fresh, savoury, full-bodied, with a very particular aromatic persistence: a long, very pleasant flavour of forest fruit remains.
Here are some of the many other labels not to be missed
- Muntobe ’20 – Montecappone Mirizzi – Marche
100% Montepulciano; Montecappone Mirizzi is a company that always sets high standards with all its wines, without exception for this excellent rosé.
- RosAlba ’20 – Pierpaolo Pecorari – Fruli Venezia Giulia
Merlot, Refosco and Cabernet; fragrant and very pleasant.
- Pinot Grigio Ramato – Villa Bogdano 1880 – Veneto
100% Pinot Grigio; unusual and definetely out of the ordinary.
- Bokè Noir Rosé Pas Dosé Millesimato ’15 – Villa Franciacorta – Lombardia
100% Pinot Noir; important and complex.
- O.P. Metodo Classico Rosè Brut – Monsupello – Lombardia
100% Pinot Noir; incredibly good, without a doubt.
- Docg (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin) Franciacorta DOCG DØM Rosé Riserva Dosaggio Zero Millesimato ’09 – Mirabella – Lombardy
Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir; well-known worldwide simply by word of mouth, a muscular wine, challenging, long ageing.
- Docg Franciacorta Brut Rosé ’17 – Ferghettina – Lombardia
100% Pinot Noir, Ferghettina never disappoints!
- Docg Franciacorta Extra Brut Rosé Edition ’16 – Barone Pizzini – Lombardia
Chardonnay 80%, Pinot Noir 20%; a very fresh and fine wine.
- Metodo Classico Brut Rosé – D’Araprì – Puglia
Montepulciano 70%, Pinot Noir 30%. An extremely interesting blend, which has now become the benchmark for classic method wines from the south of Italy.