Italian Rosato

When I was a kid, I loved pink. But it didn’t take long for me to realize my uncanny resemblance to Strawberry Shortcake. And in less time, I realized that image really wasn’t one I was going for.


I ruled pink completely out of my wardrobe by age 12, along with red, yellow, purple, and any of the fluorescents. (Yes, the 80’s were tough but I was healed by the 90’s when forest green and heather grey were totally in.)

Anyway, I still won’t wear it. But when it comes to wine, I have decided that holding the pink stuff up next to my face won’t totally contradict my copper-framed polka-dotted complexion—I guess if I worried about that too much I wouldn’t be drinking those purpley Petite Sirahs, Malbecs, and Dolcetti,* now would I?

But this brings me to my confessions about wines of the rosé hue. First, when I was in college, I used to like those horrible white Zinfandels (it could have been worse, right?) but I think I did it only because they cost $3.99 a bottle. My second confession is worse. For a sommelier who has a four-year old Italian wine blog, the truth is, I really haven’t had very much Italian rosati.* That is pretty embarrassing. Granted, the most classic rosés come out of Provence and I’ve had a fair share of those. Spanish Grenache-based rosés also have an awesome chance of ending up on my wine rack. But as for the Italian ones? I have had some chiaretto wines… does rosé Franciacorta count? There was probably a Sangiovese rosato somewhere in my past—or maybe one from Sicily? Do the light and vivace-style Freisa or Bondarda count? (No, I know. Nice try.)

Coming to this conclusion just recently—that I just haven’t had enough Italian rosati—I decided to find, taste, and compare some. My timing was right too, because on the day I acquired said wines, it decided to be summer again here towards the end of September on the central coast of California. This isn’t unusual but I will tell you that exactly 24 hours later it was pouring rain and 48 hours later I had the heater going. So yes. My timing was impeccable and timing really counts when it comes to wine.

Ecco i vini! (Here are the wines.)


Collestefano Rosa di Elena Rosato 2012. (As far as I can tell, this wine has the Marche IGT designation.) Sangiovese 80%, Cabenet Sauvignon 20%. Mostly this producer makes Verdicchio di Matelica (DOC) but he has been able to purchase these organically grown Sangiovese and Cabernet from a nearby vineyard. They grow on an incredibly steep slope, rich in rocky limestone, at an elevation of 1,400 feet a.s.l. The wine macerates on its skins for 8 hours and then continues in the same fashion as the Verdicchio: low temperature fermentation in stainless steel. Showing a magnificent clear salmon pink hue, this rosato expresses bright, ocean-saline aromas, followed by scents of watermelon peel and crisp, starchy home-grown apples. On the mid-palate, it is fresh and full of minerals—full yet delicate with a hint of strawberry and no tartness to speak of. ★★☆

Colle Stefano rose from Marche

Di Giovana Gerbino Rosato 2012. (Almost Sambuca di Sicilia DOC but doesn’t qualify because of grape content percentage). Nerello Mascalese 100%. The grapes come from two different organically grown vineyards ranging from 1,100 – 1,500 ft in elevation in western Sicily just outside of the town of Sambuca di Sicily. The soils are limestone and clay. After a 12 hour maceration on its skins, the wine undergoes a 3 month fermentation on its lees. This is an intense rosé. From the coral color shining out of the glass to the complex mix of aromas: clean sweat, cheese, strawberry, minerals, banana peel, grassy olive oil, and spice. The wine almost resembles a red wine in structure and flavors, but is as refreshing as any rosé should be. ★★☆

Di Giovanna

Zeni Vigne Alte Bardolino Chiaretto Classico 2012. Bardolino DOC. Corvina 50%, Rondinella 40%, Molinara 10%. (These are the typical grapes found in Valpolicella and Amarone.) After 12-36 hours of maceration, temperature-controlled fermentation continues in stainless steel. The grapes come from a hill-side vineyard on the eastern shore of Lago di Garda in the Bardolino Classico zone. Rosey-pink in color, this was the fruitiest of the three. Still, on the nose, it is first mineral with a touch of rose bud, then strawberry hard candy. The palate is driven by sweet citrus and watermelon but the texture is smooth like an orange-sicle with a creamy center. All in all, there wasn’t any surprising mineral structure or extreme delicate finish, but the wine is engaging, charming, and delightful. ★★

Vigne Alte

At this point I will point out the obvious so no one thinks I am trying to avoid it. Yes, rosés are (stereo)typically wines for spring and it is not spring for most of us right now. (Although, if you’re reading this from the southern hemisphere, then no need to read my disclaimer!) But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I wholly condone them for the fall as well. I would suspect that regardless of the climate in which you are living, the fall comes with a mix of weather. And since a rosé is right in between white and red, the wines typically for “summer and winter,” why not crack one open now on the other side of spring? Don’t take the risk on it lasting until next year! It will pair nicely with typical fall fare—fresh heirloom tomatoes with basil and olive oil, butternut squash soup sprinkled with cloves, mixed green salad with apples and walnuts, and a balsamic dressing, among many others.

Go experiment!

* The plural of the Italian grape, Dolcetto, is Dolcetti. The plural of the Italian word for rosé, rosato, is rosati.

9 thoughts on “Italian Rosato

  1. My brother recommended I may like this web site. He was completely right.
    This post in fact made my day. You can not consider just
    how so much time I had spent for this information! Thank you!

  2. Just found your blog after receiving the new Somm Journal. I live Calabria where we drink rosati year-round. Rosato goes well with our food culture: salamis and cheeses, especially picante, and seafood dishes.
    I look forward to following your blog…thanks!

  3. Couldn’t agree more w/ your comments on rosati, Marci. As you say..they’re not just for summertime sipping. They’re good all year round.
    One of the best/most interesting renditions of Nebb in Calif was SteveEdmund’s NebbioloRose, made from LouisLucas’ Nebbiolo. Alas, he only made it a few yrs.

  4. Always a good read, you have not let us down again!
    Kind of rediscovered dry rose while I was waiting in the car and listening to an early morning cooking show hosted by Narsi David. The pairing challenge was Dungeness crab. The hands down favorite was dry rose.
    Made a believer out of me!

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