Before I get into the gist of this piece, clariying the different styles and names for Italian rosés, I will admit that a ramato is technically not a rosé, I will get into why it isn’t but also why it can be included in a rosé shelf, confused? I have had this piece queued up for awhile but time continues to fly by me very quickly! We’re moving towards summer weather, hopefully, so time to write a piece acknowledging the huge, seemingly unquenchable thirst for rosés.
In Chicago, once it gets hot, whether at the beach, on a boat or sitting on a porch, rosés are poured. Once the temperature climbs above 70 ° the rosés or I should say rosatos (Italian for rosé) fly off the shelf at the store. Given that the weather here has been cold, then hot for a day then cold and rainy again, the rosé bottles have left in waves.
The offerings of Italian rosatos continues to increase. In Italy, there are several wines that are rosatos though are not necessarily called rosato and then there are the ramatos which I will get to. If you want to get the most expert opinion on rosatos the “must read” is Vinous, and Antonio Galloni just put out an incredibly comprehensive (as everything written on Vinous is) 2-part piece on Italian rosatos. Then there is ,also, the rosé/rosato whisperer Elizabeth Gabay MW, who wrote the book ROSÉ, Understanding the Pink Wine Revolution.
They make rosatos all over Italy, the picture above is just a slice of the offerings. Rosatos are called rosatos in the north in regions like Piemonte, in the south in regions like Puglia and on the islands like the rosatos of Mt. Etna in Sicily. The other rosé wines to look for although they do not say rosé or rosato are Cerasuolos d’Abruzzo, a rosé wine made from the Montepulciano grape in Abruzzo and Chiarettos, a rosé wine made in the Veneto and Lombardy regions.
As wine-searcher explains, Cerasuolos D’Abruzzo are their own DOC. Cerasuolo meaning cherry color is a specific DOC for rosatos made in the region of Abruzzo. These wines are going to look darker on the shelf than your classic pale salmon, onion skin rosés and but they will have more flavor and complexity so a great option if you are looking for a rosé to go with a meal.
Cerasuolo D’Abruzzo Azienda Agricola Cirelli – Grape: Montepulciano, Vineyard Size:2 hectares , Soil: calcium, clay, Average Age of Vines: 6 years, Farming: organic, Harvest: by hand, Winemaking: destemmed, gentle press, maceration on skins, fermentation in stainless steel, Aging: 3 months in stainless steel, Fining: none, Filtration: none, Added S02: low, wild raspberries, flowers and dried herbs
Another category of rosatos in Italy are the Chiarettos which are DOC wines found in Lombardy under the Valtènesi DOC and in the Veneto in the Bardolino DOC which Italian Wine Central does a great job at explaining. The Gropello grape is the main grape used for the Valtènesi wines and the Valpolicella grapes are used for the Bardolino Chiarettos. I have found that Chiarettos are the closest to a lighter, delicate “french style” rosé found in Italy if that is your preference.
Chiaretto Valtènesi Riviera del Garda Classico D.O.P. Chiaretto Described as a “one-night wine”, due to the fact that the vinification of the four typical local grapes that are part of the Valtènesi D.O.P. – Groppello, Marzemino, Sangiovese and Barbera – takes place with contact of the must on the skins for just one night. Tart fruit, strawberries, melons, lime
Finally, the Ramatos. Ramato means copper-colored which is the color of many rosés but ramatos made from the soaking of pinot grigio grapes on their skins really is the start of an orange wine (white wines vinified like red wines at their most basic). But when it comes to Pinot Grigio one could start arguing whether it truly is a white grape or a red grape since it is a mutation of pinot noir and its skin is pink, black and yellow. The ramato style originated in the region of Friuli. Vicki Denig in Wine Enthusiast wrote a piece ” Ramato, the Unexpected Rosé Alternative”. I consider ramatos somewhat like a pinot grigio on steroids although that is a bit strong. The ramatos are more orange-pink than a regular pinot gris and they are more flavorful but still tasting like a pinot grigio. So really a ramato could be called a rosato although it technically would not be a rosato.
Attems Pinot Grigio Ramato Attems Pinot Grigio Ramato continues a tradition of the Republic of Venice, since “ramato,” or coppery, was the term that referred to Pinot Grigio. A special vinification practice led to the use of this term: the must remains in contact with the skins for about 10 hours and this practice gives the wine a beautiful rosè hue. This ramato boasts a rich, complex bouquet of crisp fruity impressions including white peach, and cantaloupe followed by blackberry and bitter cherry with an intriguing hint of wild flowers. On the palate the wine is enveloping with a pleasant acidity and long mineral finish of red fruits.
Rosatos in the photo above (not in order):
É Rosato NV, Poderi Cellario Dolcetto, Nebbiolo hand-harvested, pneumatic direct press, no sterile filtering, fining, low sulphur sold in 1 liter bottles, very much a “natural” rosato
Al Posto Dei Fiori (Instead of flowers) Coste delle Sesia (DOC) LePianelle Bramaterra Alto Piemonte 90% of the wine is Nebbiolo that has been macerated for 24 hours with dry ice, and then pressed off; the rest of the wine is a ‘saignée’ of Croatina and Vespolina from the red wine production. 95% of this mass is fermented at low temperature in stainless steel, the remainder is fermented in used barriques. The wine is bottled in March after the harvest. Watermelon, wild strawberries, spice
‘Terra Sic Est’ – Vigneti Massa A rosato made Walter Massa’s Barbera, Cortese and Freisa vineyards in the Colli Tortonesi. (southeast corner of Piemonte) This one is hard to fathom from looking at the bottle that it is a rosato because the bottle itself is very dark. It is a much darker rosato than others, sour cherry, rose from the freisa, dark red fruit from the barbera.
Solerose Fontanafredda Piemonte Barbera, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo Fermented, pressed separately then assembled, 3 months on lees. Raspberry, blueberries, ripe strawberries
Tormaresca Calafuria Negroamaro Rosato (Salento IGT) – The producers call their wine a “rosé”. Calafuria takes its name from the over 700 bays on the Apulian peninsula. The region has a long tradition in the production of rosé wines made with Negroamaro, a variety that best expresses its full potential near the sea. Their rosé is produced from vineyards that extend across the Adriatic coastline for over a kilometer. A peach petal pink. Aromas both intense and delicate with fragrant notes of peaches, roses, and cherry blossoms. A fresh and balanced wine, highly savory and with much aromatic persistence. I found this wine tart, crisp and refreshing. Even though they note peaches in their tasting notes I did not find it overly peachy.
Castello Monaci – Kreos Rosé Salento IGT – 100% Negroamaro is made in the “saignée method” which removes the juice from the skins after just a enough contact to impart a rich pink color and clean berry flavor.
Sicily Mt. Etna
Murgo Etna Rosato – 100% Nerello Mascalese. A brief maceration of the skins for 24-hours is followed by aging in stainless steel for 5 months before bottling. Fresh, fruity, strawberry, pink grapefruit, sour cherry
Nicosia Vulkà Etna Rosato DOC Etna Nerello Mascalese, cold maceration 24 hours then direct press, the soil is volcanic, very rich in minerals, at an altitude of 650-750 m above sea level, with good range of temperature between day and night; training system: espalier spurred cordon. Pale pink with brilliant highlights, floral and fruity bouquet with notes of rosehip, currants, wild strawberries, pink grapefruit, dehydrated fruit and spices, freshness and minerality in the mouth
Graci – Etna Rosato – 100% Nerello Mascalese sub-appellation: Passopisciaro, Catania, volcanic soil hand-harvested, gentle pressing, no skin maceration Red cherry, herbs, mineral notes, delicate and complex
When it comes to Italian rosés/rosatos/chiarettos/cerasuolos there are lots of choices, so you just have to choose your color of pink and drink!!!