Any time of the year is rosé season in my world and fortunately, the world has plenty of choices from which to choose. During recent travels to Italy, I found two more. Lest anyone thinks that all rosés are the same, think again. In Bardolino, I sipped my fair share of Chiaretto, the Italian dry rosé of Corvina and Rondinella, indigenous grapes produced in Northern Italy along the hillsides hugging the shores of Lake Garda. (Click here for my article.) A few weeks later, I spent a few days in beautiful Abruzzo where I became enamored with Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, its distinctive rosé wine of the red grape, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. This cherry red rosé is a bright change from the pale rosés from Provence or elsewhere and with a broad, flavorful profile, Cerasuolo can easily satisfy those who crave a lighter red wine. Food friendly? Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is a match!
Where is Abruzzo?
We’ve heard of Abruzzo, but where is it? Located between the Adriatic Sea and the Gran Sasso and Majella massifs, Abruzzo has three National Parks and more than ten national and regional nature reserves. The region is separated by two areas – a mountainous stretch located inland (the area comprises more than 65% of the entire region) and a coastal section with a wide swath of hills. The three-hour drive from Rome to the seaside in Abruzzo was stunning with small villages dotting the valley and mountain landscape.
On the Apennine side facing the Adriatic Sea, the climate is mild and more continental than the area inland. Mountains, a 40-minute drive from the sea, help create a diurnal shift between day and night. Major varieties produced in Abruzzo include Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC, Abruzzo Pecorino and Villamagna DOC – I’ll be sharing more stories and experiences in later articles so stay tuned.
Abruzzo, Italy – Photo credit: www.annamap.com
Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC – the First Italian Denomination Dedicated to Rosé Wine
Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC has existed since 2010 in order to give this unique style its own identity – prior to that date, the wines were classified under the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC. In Italian, “cerasuolo” means “pale cherry red” and in the glass, the wines shine. Thanks to a short maceration on the skins for less than 24 hours, its vibrant shade of pink demands a second look. In fact, the skin of the Montepulciano grape contains a high amount of anthocyanins that contribute to not only the color of the rose, but the tannic structure – these elements occur during that brief timeframe of maceration.
Only 970 hectares of vines are earmarked for production of Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo which must contain at least 85% Montepulciano grapes. The remaining 15% in the blend may be of local varieties – many of those I tasted, however, were of 100% Montepulciano. Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo Superiore requires a 12.5% ABV (as opposed to 12%) and a longer maturation period of four months instead of two months.
Usually matured in stainless steel for a few months prior to bottling, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo offered fruit forward aromas of cherries, raspberries and pomegranate with a touch of almond. On the refreshing palate, I found delicate, soft notes of white flowers and spice leading, snappy acidity and a zing of minerality on the finish. Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is intended to be enjoyed young and during my tasting experiences of new releases, the most fascinating sips were from wines boasting intense fruit, slight tannins and an ability to age.
Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo and Foods for Pairing
Drink pink! After a tour of the beautiful Castorani winery, our first glass, Amorino was poured. With an enticing color of pale onion skin with notes of red berries and hints of spice on the nose, the wine was fruit forward with bright acidity and offered a memorable, lingering finish. Likewise, Hedos from Cantina Tollo was intense yet soft on both nose and palate with Cerasuolo’s signature notes of ripe, red fruit, flowers and spice.
Deep red color in the glass, Alberto Tiberio Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo was balanced with aromas of anise, roses and salinity. The wine was a joy to experience with its vibrant acidity, notes of sour candies, citrus, lavender and spice. Rich and fruity, a chilled glass of Valori Bio Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo was fresh and easy drinking with classic notes of red fruit, florals and spice – the wine was just simply delightful with appetizers one evening. Bright and fresh red fruit were dominant notes from the beginning to end of a glass of lovely Jasci & Marchesani Biologico Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo.
Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo complements the obvious – fish and other forms of seafood! Other mouthwatering matches include risotto, any type of pasta with or without sauce, bruschetta and an array of hard cheeses. Don’t forget the grilled vegetables such as eggplant stuffed with meat, lentil or seafood soups, or meat kabobs with your chilled glass of Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo.
You’re ready to explore Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo? I’m right next to you with another pour of this glorious cherry-red rosé from Italy.
Cheers! ~ Cindy
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