Italian rosé: Top picks for a diverse wine list

Jacopo Mazzeo

Jacopo Mazzeo

29 November 2018

The diversity of indigenous grapes, climates and styles that Italy has to offer is reflected in the plethora of different rosés produced across the peninsula. Imbibe cherry-picks a selection that can work all year round

Italy might be renowned for its reds, but it produces a wide array of rosés too. Italian rosés can be as light as the lightest of the whites and as full-bodied as reds, and they offer plenty of valuable alternatives when it comes to food matching.

And since rosé is finally coming into its own, it’s now totally reasonable to include a well-thought-out variety of the stuff on your wine list. There are many options beyond the summer-sipping, straw-coloured Provence rosés that have made pinkish wines so popular of late.

However, putting together a selection of good-quality, diverse rosés can be difficult in practice – so we've created this handy list of the best Italian rosés available to the UK on-trade.

Rosachiara, La Scolca, Piedmont 2017

La Scolca is one of the leading producers in Gavi, renowned for its top Villa Scolca and the old-vine Gavi Etichetta Nera.

Rosés are not a common sight in Gavi, but La Scolca’s Rosachiara has managed to make a name for itself. It is a blend of Cortese grapes and shortly-macerated Pinot Nero, which lends this table wine its characteristic orangey colour.

Blending white and red grapes to make rose is not allowed in any European still wine appellation (but it is for sparkling wine), hence the declassification to table wine.

The nose is intense and ethereal, with delicate orange blossom aromas. The palate is light, fresh, showing green and red apples and grapefruit flavours.

£10.55, Eurowines

Sof Rosé Tenuta di Biserno IGP, Tuscany 2017

Antinori’s name doesn’t really need introduction, but the 49ha Tenuta di Biserno might. Located in Bibbona and bordering Bolgheri, it was acquired by the Antinoris back in 1995 and has been making Super Tuscans from Bordeaux varietals since 2001, with a particular focus on Cabernet Franc.

It comes as no surprise then that the brand-new Sof Rosé (named after Lodovico Antinori’s daughter Sofia) is comprised of half Cabernet Franc and half Syrah.

The style was originally inspired by classic Provence rosés, with its pale colour and fresh, bright nose, but the resulting wine shows the weight and character of warm-climate Cab Franc and Syrah.

The nose is intense, with plenty of strawberries and crunchy red berries, refreshing acidity. Its full palate leads to a spicy red and green peppercorn finish.

£20.42, Corney & Barrow

‘Ramusa’ Tenuta Ficuzza Doc Sicilia, Cusumano, Sicily 2017

Sicily makes a lot of entry-level quality Nero d’Avola rosé. ‘Ramusa’ departs from this trend and is a real delight, coming straight from Cusumano’s largest estate, Ficuzza, on the north-western tip of the island, not far from Palermo.

Cusumano is strong on international varieties, especially Chardonnay and Pinot Nero. This rosé is one of the worthiest expressions of the red Burgundian grape found on the island.

A carefully handled 24-hour cold maceration lends an elegant pink colour and subtle floral and saline aromas.

The palate shows weight, with an enveloping blossom-honey character and evident yeasty flavour from the six months spent on fine lees. It's a seriously food-friendly rosé that can easily stand up to white meats and big flavours.

£10.50, Eurowines

Pietradolce Etna Rosato Doc, Sicily 2017

Pietradolce was established in 2005 in Solicchiata, home to 11ha of vineyards at a height of between 600 and 900 metres above sea level.

This rosato is a jewel, the purest expression of high-altitude, bush-vine Nerello Mascalese from the northern slopes of Mount Etna.

It’s a fruit-driven rosé, with crunchy red berries and a marked mineral nose. Meanwhile, its grown-up palate verges more towards darker cherries. The finish goes on and on and on.

POA, Armit Wines

Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo Doc, Gianni Masciarelli, Abruzzo 2017

There aren’t many Italian appellations dedicated to rosé wine only. Carasuolo d’Abruzzo is one of the very few. This fine example comes from the man regarded as the pioneer of modern winemaking in Abruzzo, Gianni Masciarelli.

Masciarelli brought Montepulciano d’Abruzzo to the world stage and convinced its international audience that Trebbiano is capable of making full bodied, weighty whites that fear no confrontation.

Masciarelli’s Cerasuolo has a bright cherry colour; on the palate it’s weighty and vinous, with a mix of red and dark berries flavours and a light tannic character.

POA, Les Caves des Pyrene

Five Roses Rosato IGT Salento, Leone de Castris, Puglia 2017

First made in 1943, this was the first rosé ever bottled in Italy. The original Italian name, Cinque Rose, means  ‘five roses’ and alluded to the fact that the property was then managed by five siblings.

It soon became the favourite of American general Charles Poletti, who was stationed in Puglia during World War II. Since then it has anglicised its name to Five Roses as a sign of respect to Poletti – or rather, as a useful marketing tool for export to the States...

It’s a blend of bush-trained Negroamaro (90%) and Malvasia Nera di Lecce (10%). The body is full, typical of any rosé from Puglia, showing red berries as well as ripe peach and red-apple notes. It's a piece of Italian wine history.

£11.20, Eurowines

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