Wine Stories Roger Sesto

All about rosé wines in Italy

All about rosé wines in Italy

Unlike other countries, like Spain, the United States and France, rosé in Italy – aside from bubbles – has long been snubbed. An incomprehensible phenomenon that denies a fascinating typology of wine. Our country produces a wide range of worthy characters: Chiaretto Gardesani, Cerasuolo Aprutini, rosati Salentini… without mentioning the innumerable winemaking techniques, derived from centuries-old traditions. So why don’t we value them? A pre-existing prejudice: most still consider rosé as a half-successful mid-way between red and white, instead of a true and worthy wine.

The encyclopedia of Rosé in Italy

There are three predominant zones of our Peninsula with recognized, consolidated productive traditions for still rosé: Garda with its Chiaretto, Abruzzo with Cerasuolo, and Puglia, specifically the area of Salento. Of course there are other regions in Italy that produce and distribute at random, but with inconsistent production quantities and often-unreliable quality that often fails to exceed expectations.

Garda’s Chiaretto

The Valtènesi Chiaretto – from the western shore of Lake Garda near Brescia – is born from an age-old love story between the noblewoman Amalia Brunati and the Venetian senator Pompeo Molmenti, married in 1885. Molmenti’s passion for avant-garde viticulture and for pink winemaking that he witnessed in travels to France resulted in the invention of the production method used for Chiaretto, derived in Moniga, Valtènesi, in the year 1896: Mere hours of contact between the must and the skins of local red grapes followed by a traditional night racking and subsequent gentle pressing. This process allows the Chiaretto to maintain freshness and the characteristic temperament of the Groppello varietal which defines the finished wine. Thereafter, having seen the success of his Brescian cousins across the lake, Bardolino took his turn in pink on the Verona-lying side of Garda. Among the producers worth mentioning are Pasini San Giovanni, Costaripa and Comincioli.

Abruzzo, Cerasuolo land

In Garda (as in Salento – even more so), rosé has always carried a certain dignity, at least in historical tradition if not by way of everyday practice. But in Abruzzo, the story is different: Cerasuolo was an alternative wine to break redundancy from the red version. It was considered a secondary product compared to the famed Montepulciano. Until 2009, there was a single discipline for Montepulciano and Cerasuolo, and only with the 2010 harvest did the two denominations bravely separate. Today, the two wines are defined as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Cersauolo d’Abruzzo. Producers to note include Valentini, Cataldi Madonna, Emidio Pepe and Masciarelli.

The cradle of Salento

Salento has always been synonymous with the production of rosé, blessed with a few Doc areas such as Salice Salentino and Igt’s like Alezio. The success of the region is due in part to favorable weather conditions, and also the sheer volume of wine produced, which – in order to reach a wider consumer target – became necessary to denominate, extending to the category of rosé. Not to mention the region’s cuisine, with an abundance of rosé-friendly pastas. The two great autochthonous varietals, Negroamaro and Malvasia nera, lend themselves well to pink vinification. As of recently, producers are experimenting with other native varietals like Primitivo. Keep an eye out for the producers Leone de Castris, Rosa del Golfo and Calò Michele e Figli.

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