Americans tend to associate places, for better or for worse, with certain foods or beverages. Chicago, where I live, for the worse, is associated with deep dish pizza, that tourists flock to, but for the most part, people who live in Chicago, don’t eat that often, if at all. Munich, Germany is linked to Octoberfest and beer. Well, when in Abruzzo, by the seashore or in the mountains, people drink Cerasuolo, officially Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, which is the first Italian DOC dedicated to a rosato style wine. Cerasuolo is rosé, the Abruzzo way. The wine looks as it is described, cerasuolo, cherry red, with white and red floral aromas, strawberry, cherry, raspberry, red plum flavors, crisp, light tannins, and an almond finish. The color is darker than the ultra-pale Provence style rosés that the US mass market craves, but lighter than a light red wine, like Cerasuolo d’Vittoria, the only DOCG wine of Sicily, and the other “Cerasuolo”. The Italians like their cherries!
The official DOC for Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo has only existed since 2010, but the wine style is a traditional one for the region. The DOC requires 85% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, the main red grape of Abruzzo and Italy’s 2nd most widely grown red grape. The grape develops anthocyanins quite readily, the compounds responsible for color in a grape, so the Cerasuolo wines are only macerated for 8-10 hours to develop the color and then pressed, although, the amount of time does vary based on producer. James Button, wrote a piece for Decanter 11/22/20, reviewing his favorite Cerasuolo’s d’Abruzzos including the one below by Nestore Bosco that was poured at dinner our first night in Abruzzo.
Tenuta I Fauri
On my whirlwind visit, see my Abruzzo Intro piece for background, we visited with winemaker Luigi di Camillo at Tenuta I Fauri in Ari, Chieti province, an area that has been inhabited since the Romans and set in the sub-foothills of the Apennines. He had a bowl of local cherries on the table and his Baldovino Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo was the exact same color as the cherries. The wine was served with a local pastry, Sise delle Monache, 3 peaks, resembling the peaks of the Maiella mountains, pastry cream inside a sponge cake.
As an aside, Luigi poured his aged Pecorino, 2013 that had golden delicious, hay, honey, lemongrass, peach, apricot and nuts.
The color of Luigi’s Baldovino, Cerasuolo was a bright, vibrant cherry red that matched the cherries on the table. The name, Baldovino (herders who looked after sheep) was the nickname the local neighbors gave to his father so the family created a wine label, “Baldovino” in homage to his nickname.
Cerasuolo went well with the pastry. The rosé ,also, paired seemlessly, with the abundance of food that we had, on our visit the following day with the Pasetti family in Pescosansonesco, within the Gran Sasso National Park. Cerasuolo is just a food friendly wine that doesn’t overpower a dish, and is easy to sip. Definitely a candidate for a “Thanksgiving wines” list.
At each stop we made, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo was poured. It even was the focus of a seaside party that our group attended, to kickoff the “Art, Bike & Run + Wine” project, taking place later this month in Chieti. For me this event is a glorious combination of activitiies, I love biking, I love art, I love running (well, for me now walking/jogging) and of course I love wine. From what I gather, it is an organization that supports the bike path along the coast, currently there are 42km accessible and the plan is to more than double the path to 130km.
Following aperitivo hour, the groups split up to dine at restaurants nearby with set menus accompanied by more Cerasuolo wines. The colors varied slightly, based on winemaking but all the wines paired excellently with the seafood dishes.
On our final day in Abruzzo, we stopped at 2 wineries, Castorani in Alanno, Pescara province and then Pasetti, located in Pescosansonesco, Pescara province, within Gran Sasso National Park, which I will cover in my next post, “Race cars, Mountains and National Parks“. The Castorani winemaker, Angelo Molisani produces an onion-skin colored, more savory Cerasuolo.
Given the Mediterranean climate of most of Abruzzo, the chilled, light to medium body Cerasuolo is really the wine of choice in a hot climate for Aperitivo, for a light meal or for just an easy summer sipper. Cerasuolo is the Abruzzo way to rosé!