Rosé Tinted (Wine) Glasses for the Summer
- Written by Diana Zahuranec
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From classics to curiosities, here is our list of Piemontese rosés to consult when the summer heat leaves you wishing for an easy, fresh, cool wine.
Piemonte is famous for its red wines, known for its aromatic, sparkling whites, yet utterly left out when it comes to rosé. That doesn’t mean there are no exceptional rosé wines hailing from this great region, however, and many are made from – you guessed it – Nebbiolo. Others, particularly the sparkling rosés, are made from the mighty grape of Champagne, Pinot Nero. The still rosato wines are hidden treasures to be sought out when visiting this wine region – because these unique wines will be all but unavailable beyond the borders of Piemonte.
Why are rosé wines so uncommon in this area? The earth of Piemonte is suited to creating powerful, high-tannin reds like Barolo and Barbaresco. Simply put, the demand for the more easily drinkable rosés is very low. Sparkling wines like the dry Asti Spumante and sweet Moscato d’Asti are so traditional that the economies of some towns turn with their production, like Canelli; and any producer who makes these will likely have a sparkling rosé label, as well. The still rosés, on the other hand, are the rare gemstones of these hills. But trust us – they exist.
Photo from Rick Webb, Creative Commons. License found here.
Pamela from the Fracchia e Berchialla wine shop in Alba, Julina from Mille Vigne in Turin, and Carlo and Cecilia from Cantina Torino in Turin gave excellent advice on the gamut of rosé wines to be discovered in Piemonte. From classics to curiosities, here is our list of Piemontese rosés to consult when the summer heat leaves you wishing for an easy, fresh, cool wine.
Most representative of the Langhe
Nebbiolo Rosato Parüss by Parusso, Bussia - Monforte d’Alba (CN): A fine-structured wine made from Nebbiolo, the Parüss is an easy-drinking crowd pleaser with surprising complexity. It has rose and floral aromas and notes of ripe, red berries on the palate, with subtle, structured tannins. Its fruity finish and medium body makes this accessible for many drinkers and dishes, from pasta to red meats, mushroom dishes and cheese fonduta. www.parusso.com
Sclint Rosato from Poderi Colla, San Rocco Seno d’Elvio (CN): The name “Sclint” refers to the brilliant rose sheen in Piemontese dialect. The Pinot Nero and Nebbiolo grapes undergo a very brief maceration for a rosato full of character. Nebbiolo gives it a classic Piemontese structure, paired elegantly with a fragrant bouquet of floral aromas and harmonious palate. www.podericolla.it
VDT Rosato Elatis by Comm. G.B. Burlotto, Verduno (CN): From the land of Barolo comes an unexpected rosato, a gorgeous wine with a cheerful pink blush and inviting floral and white peach aromas. On the palate are wild strawberries, red currant, and red plum, and it has good structure and perfect acidity. It is made from Nebbiolo and smaller percentages of other native grapes from the region (Pelaverga and Barbera). Franco Ziliani, acclaimed Italian wine critic, calls this “one of Italy’s best rosé wines.” www.burlotto.com
Paruss, Elatis, Sclint
Made from 100% Nebbiolo
Erpacrife Nebbiolo by Erpacrife, Langhe: Four producers at the Enological College of Alba sat behind their desks one school day and dreamt up this Nebbiolo spumante. Today, Erpacrife also makes a Moscato and Bianco, but their passion began with Nebbiolo. This sparkling rosé wine is unexpected dark pink in color, tending towards the classic Nebbiolo red, with strawberry aromas on the nose. Made with the Champagne method, this rosato can certainly compete with the best of them, offering up extra points for creativity without veering from traditional style elements.www.erpacrife.com
Visages de Carraille by Cascina Baricchi, Neviglie (CN): Another Metodo Classico, this 100% Nebbiolo rosé spumante is not your “typical” Piemontese rosato (if any could be called typical!), with elegant red berries, aromatic herbs, and licorice on the nose. On the palate, it is full and juicy with the right amount of acidity to give it personality. Pair it with Italian cold cuts and salami, pumpkin and Taleggio cheese risotto, and even seafoods and – get daring – smoked salmon. Recommended music is Paolo Conte. www.cascinabaricchi.com
“531” Nebbiolo by Dezzani, Cocconato (AT): The particular name of this sparkling Nebbiolo rosé derives from the altitude at which the grapes are cultivated and hand-harvested (531 meters above sea level), right at the foot of the Gothic-Romaneque Vezzolano Abbey. Pale cherry in color, 531 has a fine perlage and good persistence. Its aromas are complex, with peony and nectarine; and it has a pleasant minerality and balanced, smooth freshness on the palate. www.dezzani.it
Extra Brut Cuvee Zero Rosé by Cascina Chicco, Canale (CN): The tender pink color of Cuvee Zero is like that of an onion skin. This sparkling rosé has a fine, persistent perlage and its aroma instantly recalls classic Nebbiolo, with raspberries, violets, and bread crust. It is dry and fresh on the palate, making it ideal for happy hour or aperitivo, fish dishes, crustaceans, and beef tartare (if you’re feeling Piemontese). www.cascinachicco.com
Erpacrife, Visages de Canaille, 531, Cuvée Zero Rosé
Rosés available outside of Piemonte and Italy
Metodo Classico Rosé by Deltetto, Canale (CN): Made from Pinot Nero and Nebbiolo, this wine has a deep pink color, persistent perlage, and aromas of raspberry, violets, and bread (classic Nebbiolo traits). A dry, sparkling wine, its tannins are smooth and balanced. Another perfect aperitivo (happy hour) drink, good with all dishes except dessert. www.deltetto.com
Alta Langa DOCG “Rösa” by Cocchi, Cocconato d’Asti (AT): This spumante hailing from the Asti area is 100% Pinot Nero. Made with the metodo classico, it is fresh and sapid, with a unique spicy style that accents it fruitiness. If you're looking for a "masculine" rosé, this is it. www.cocchi.it
"For England" Brut Rosé by Contratto, Canelli (AT): Its crisp nose has aromas of orange and apricot, and overall it’s a complex, mineral wine, a far cry from the shallow simplicity that rosé wines can be (unfairly) known for. Its grapes are cultivated in the Oltrepo Pavese zone in Asti territory, 100% Pinot Nero. www.contratto.it
Rösa, Metodo Classico Rosé, For England
Curiouser and curiouser!
These rosato wines will be difficult to find outside of Piemonte. Our suggestion for finding out-of-the-ordinary wines produced by small Piemontese winemakers is to hit up Cantina Torino in Turin. We present here a merry ride through the valleys and into the high mountains of the Susa Valley, all found at prices around € 8-11.
Organic rosato wines:
Cento Filari Rugiada by Spaventapasseri, Mombaruzzo (AT): Made from 100% Pinot Nero, this wine blatantly flouts all respect for native Piemontese grapes, but we forgive it because of its delicate, fresh aroma, the lovely hints of rose petals on the nose, balanced acidity, and its fine persistence. Plus, it’s organic.
Carpe Diem by Tenuta Antica, Cessole (AT): The Carpe Diem is 100% Dolcetto, with a pleasant and delicate aroma, dry and balanced on the palate. This is definitely a happy hour or lazy summer evening wine, pairing well with light foods, salads, and freshwater fish. www.tenuta-antica.com
Before venturing into Alpine foothills, two unusual rosés from the Monferrato and Langhe:
Quatman by Enrico Cruetto, Alfiano Natta (AL): The curious name of this 100% Barbera natural wine means “Quattro mani,” or “four hands.” (4 mani, or four hands). Four hands do, as the name suggests, made this wine – Enrico Cruetto’s and his winemaker friend’s Tommaso Gallina (Castelletto Merli). The grapes come from a small vineyard situated among trees, which are harvested early to avoid the other harvesters of nature getting to it first, deer and wild boar. It is so fresh and pure, it smells and tastes almost like grape juice. They have dedicated this wine to all those who say, “No thanks, I don’t drink.” www.enricodruetto-vini.it
Briosec Rosato by LeViti, Dogliani (CN): This well-structured wine is made from grapes that are harvested rather late, contrary to the previous wine. The Brachetto grapes from which Briosec is entirely made give it an expected aromatic, floral scent and notes of raspberry and strawberry, but its dryness is a surprise twist to those who know Brachetto. Especially good with fish. www.cantinaleviti.it
Alpine foothills of Susa Valley: cool mountain air and freshly acidic rosés
Oro di Venere by Vitivinicola Prever, Villarbasse (TO): We will start immediately with different grapes, shall we? This still rosé is made from three native, and hand-harvested, Piemontese varieties: Bonarda, Freisa, and Barbera. On the nose it has the sweet scents of banana and caramel balanced by a toasted sensation; on the palate it is warm and soft, recalling red fruits and almonds on the finish. www.prever.it
Martina from Agriturismo Cré Seren, Giaglione (TO): The Martina is made from 100% Grisa Rousa, a native grape variety of this northern Piemonte zone, harvested at 800 m above sea level. It is fresh and fruity, a light and lovely summer wine; but you will be hard-pressed to find this even within the region of Piemonte. http://www.agriturismogiaglione.it/
Rocafurà by Cascina Agrinova, Borgone di Susa (TO): Another small-time, native grape! Rocafurà is made from 60% Neretta Cuneese, 20% Barbera, and 20% other Susa Valley natives (Grisa Nera, Chatus, Lambrusca Vittona, and Nebbiolo, which looks less exciting after all those new grape names). Just 900 bottles of this are produced each year; the Neretta gives it a rich color and confers a nice body and dry tone. Read more about Neretta here (sometimes written Neretto). www.cascinagrinova.it
Barbaroux by Isiya, Exilles (TO): The Barbaroux, made from Avanà and Grisa Rousa, has a particularly tingly but perfectly refreshing acidity from its mountainous origins. The vineyards are actually terraced and the grapes are necessarily harvested by hand. The Isiya winery is consciously recuperating old grape varieties destined for oblivion. See more here.
Oro di Venere, Martina, Rocafurà, Barbaroux
Cover photo by Dave Jackson, Creative Commons. License found here.