Categories
Drink

Italian Rosés: Ancient Winemaking Traditions Delivering Modern Appeal

We’ve been fans of Italian dry rosé for many years and feel they need more shelf space and attention. But France, being the “motherland” of dry roses, tends to overshadow its Italian neighbor. Rosé is the second most consumed wine in France after red, and French rosés account for 31 percent of the global market.

In comparison, Italian rosés, which have been made for millennia, account for 10 percent of global production. That may seem small but it’s getting mightier, thanks more awareness of styles, availability and the introduction in August 2020 of rosé Prosecco, an entirely new category that is making waves.

Classic vs. Modern Styles

Almost every region of Italy produces still rosé, locally referred to as “rosato.” Styles differ from north to south based on climate, topography, and method of production. The variety rosés throughout Italy offer a wonderful range to taste.

In times past, northern Italy was influenced by Roman and French traditions using a wine press to elicit the desired lighter pink color. Southern Italy was influenced by Greece where grapes were pressed and placed in large stone urns to macerate, resulting in a darker style.

While many vintners are adapting their methods to create lighter styles of rose to appeal to a broader audience, we find the darker rosés, notably Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, and Puglia’s Negroamaro Rosatos (they also make red with this ancient variety), lend themselves to more food pairings. These wines, in particular, often have some aging potential.

Selection of Italian roses
Photo: David Ransom

Veneto

Chiaretto means “pink,” and this region in northern Italy around Lake Garda is known for its rosés with 10 million bottles produced annually.  The main town is Bardolino at the foothills of the Dolomites.

Producers in this area frequently reference the “lake effect,” the cool breezes that blow through the vineyards, resulting from wind tunnels created by the Dolomites, resulting in very pure air. Another ‘effect’ from the mountains and the lake is the mineral rich soil and thermal waters which create a whiff of salinity to Chiaretto wines, much like those made in southern France. In fact, the Garda climate is often compared to Provence, making it a very popular vacation destination, especially among German tourists.

One can travel to the east and west sides of Lake Garda to discover very distinct styles, thanks to different microclimates and grapes. On the south and east banks of the lake, the dominant indigenous red grapes are Corvina and Rondinella, both naturally low in pigment. these are used to make Chiaretto di Bardolino, a nod to the main town. Chiaretto di Valtènesi is made on the western shore. Here, rosés are made with indigenous Groppello and usually blended Sangiovese and Barbera, resulting in deeper berry and spice notes.

We both have visited the Garda region to learn about Chiaretto and find these rosés to be undiscovered gems. Two wines we recently tasted:

Valetti Bardolino Chiaretto Classico: A blend of Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara and Sangiovese www.valetti.it (Krewe di Bizou Wines).

Corte Gardoni “Nichesole” Chiaretto:  A blend of Corvina 80% and Rondinella 20%. www.cortegardoni.it    (Kermit Lynch)

Another Veneto producer we recommend is Bertani Bertarose, whose rosé is a blend of 75% Molinara and 25% Merlot.  www.bertani.net  (Taub Family Wines)

Chiaretto
Chiaretto Italian Dry Rosé   Photo: Studio Cru

Abruzzo

This wine region is located between the Apennine Mountains and Adriatic Sea. We had the pleasure of visiting in July 2019 on a trip hosted by Umani Ronchi, one of the region’s leading producers (Vineyard Brands). Lucky for us it was sunflower season. The fields were awash in a blaze of vibrant yellow, and the weather was warm and dry.

Lighter colored roses tend to come from coastal areas. But here, it’s a darker style of rose that earns a DOC designation: Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo. The variety is Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, a red grape that results in wines with a rich garnet color and pleasant red berry and balsamic notes. The darker hue earned these wines their name; Cerassa means “cherry.”

Wines to try:

Torre Zambra Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo (Frederico de Cerchio Family Estates) This wine has a lighter (for Cerasuolo) garnet color. www.federicocherchio.com.  (The Wine House)

Barone di Valforte Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo. This wine is a deeper ruby, almost a light red. www.baronedivalforte.it/en (More Than Grapes)

Calabria

Often referred to as the toe of the Italian boot, Calabria is one of Italy’s southernmost regions. Historically influenced by Greece, Calabrian wines may seem new to those who have not visited the area or tasted the wines. The local variety is Gaglioppo, known for producing softer, spicy reds.

Librandi Rosato, Cirò DOC: 100% Gaglioppo. The color of this wine is a deep blush with a hint of gold. www.librandi.it/en (Winebow)

Sicily

No doubt a rising star in Italian wine production thanks to its food friendly reds made from Nero d’Avola and fascinating indigenous whites like Grillo and Insolia

Planeta Sicilia DOC Rosé:  A blend of 50% Nero d’Avola and 50% Syrah. A lighter style or rosé for an aperitif or boiled seafood. www.planeta.it/en (Taub Family Wines).

 

About Rosé Prosecco

Rosé spumantes (sparkling wines) are made throughout Italy, but it wasn’t until August 11, 2020, that production of DOC Rosé Prosecco was allowed. Almost immediately rose Prosecco became a global superstar. Now suppliers are working hard to keep up with the demand with production is increasing from 17 million bottles to 60 million bottles in 2021, according to the region’s Consorzio.

The base grape for all Prosecco is the white Glera. The grapes undergo primary and secondary fermentation in a pressurized tank, a process known as “charmat” or the Martinotto method. To make rosé Prosecco, a red grape, usually Pinot Noir (Pinot Nero) at about 10-15%, is co-blended with the Glera prior to secondary fermentation for around 60 days.

For those familiar with the white peach and green apple essences in many traditional Proseccos, tasting a rose Prosecco will delivery slightly creamy strawberry notes.

We are just sinking our teeth (and lips) into tasting rosé Proseccos. The category really deserves a separate post of its own.

Try:  Valdo Prosecco DOC Rosé  www. valdo.com/en (Taub Family Wines)

Categories
books Eat

Summer Reads to Whet Your Appetit For Food and Travel

Sunny- Sultry- Stormy- Scintillating

Sounds like a good book or film, right? Actually, it’s New Orleans in the summer, where we are now (with a pre-determined hurricane evacuation plan we hope we don’t need to use!)

As our 11th month on the #TheConnectedTableROADTRIP turns a corner, and the year we allowed to travel comes closer to its anniversary, we are taking July and August to unwind, unpack our suitcases and car for a while, and settle into one of our favorite cities. This allows us more time to write, read, look for more paid partnerships, and taste and savor the summer without the hustle.

And what better time than summer to tuck into a few books that transport us elsewhere? Here are two we recommend. Both authors were recent guests on The Connected Table LIVE.

Restaurant Critic Alexander Lobrano: “My Place at the Table: A Recipe for a Delicious Life in Paris”

How did a shy kid from suburban Connecticut become one of the leading restaurant critics in Paris? Many have asked Alexander (Alec) Lobrano that question with admiration.  Lobrano shares some juicy highlights  in his memoir, “My Place at the Table: A Recipe for a Delicious Life in Paris” ( Harper Collins).

My Place at the Table - Alec Lobrano
Photo of Alex Lobrano by Stephen Rothfield. Purchase book here.

A gifted storyteller with a curious palate, Lobrano had to fight the usual skeptics about his chosen profession, from his parents who questioned why he wanted to write about food to Parisians who doubted he knew anything about French food.

As a young boy, Lobrano preferred to write in his diaries over playing contact sports. He writes about being sent away on a cross-country camping trip, carefully documenting what he experienced and ate. Later, after graduating Amherst, he worked in publishing in New York City and then in London as a writer until Paris came calling.

Originally recruited to cover men’s fashion in Paris for Women’s Wear Daily, Lobrano continued to follow his passion, seeking out little-known restaurants with as much enthusiasm as booking a meal at Michelin-starred food temple. Frustrated with his requisite reporting on designers and socialites for Fairchild publications, he continued to pound the pavement to generate freelance articles on dining for other outlets to support his appetite for great food and his writer’s income. When an editor suggests Lobrano accept free restaurant meals, he demurs choosing to maintain his journalistic independence.

Reading Lobrano’s book makes us hungry for Paris and also humble about the chosen profession of journalism. As media outlets come and go, it’s always a hustle.  And when you schedule that visit to the Eternal City, make sure to check out Lobrano’s “insider list” of restaurants to try in the back of his book.

Paris Eiffel Tower - anthony-delanoix-QAwciFlS1g4-unsplash
Paris Eiffel Tower – anthony-delanoix-QAwciFlS1g4-unsplash

Television Producer David Page, “Food Americana: The Remarkable People and Incredible Stories behind America’s Favorite Dishes”

If you are a fan of Food Network’s hit series, “Diners Drive-ins and Dives,” you have David Page to thank as the originator of the show and executive producer for eleven seasons. A two-time Emmy Award recipient, Page spent many years working in network news at NBC where he developed and-co-produced “The Today Show Weekend Edition.” He also worked at ABC as a senior producer/line producer for “Good Morning America” and as a senior investigative producer for “20/20.” Page’s career in television news comes with fascinating stories about covering world news.

On the home front, Page is author of a new book, “Food Americana: The Remarkable People and Incredible Stories behind America’s Favorite Dishes.” (Mango Media). If you are a fan of food pop culture, you will glide through this book, savoring the tidbits of information, colorful characters and notable chefs who helped shape some of the foods we enjoy today. Importantly, “Food Americana” sheds a light on the valuable contribution immigrants to our country have made on the foods we enjoy today from Chinese dumplings to sushi to Italian pizza.

David Page- Food Americana
                    Hungry for American food pop culture? Purchase the book here.  

In addition to “Triple D,” Page’s Minnesota-based company, Page Productions, has produced many food shows including “Outrageous Food,” “Hungry Men at Work” and- currently in production, ”Beer Geeks,” which takes viewers inside the world of craft brewing.

Listen to our show with Alec Lobrano and David Page on The Connected Table LIVE! here: