Sunday, April 12, 2015

Making the Case for Darker Rosė Wines ~ Countering the "Brangelina" Effect

In no small way, we all need to thank the Perrin family (and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) for resuscitating the rosė wine category. Before the phenomenon of Miraval, rosė wines were in the crapper. More often than not, aged rosė wines sat in warehouses and on store shelves dying a slow death. No matter how many articles that came out, in blogs, in magazines, and in newspapers, the numbers didn’t look good.I know, because I was tracking them. And it wasn't pretty.

Then Perrin (and Brangelina) said “Let there be light.” And it was a game changer. Now wineries all up and down France and across to Italy, in Spain, in California and all over the world are chasing the ethereal, elusive onion skin color for their wines. And for good reason. Miraval is kicking ass in the sales department.

But. Wait.

There are some of us who still like the deeply colored rosė (or light red) wines. And Italy has such a wonderful group of wines, from Alto-Adige to Sicily, that are fuller, richer and really shouldn’t be scuttled to the dust bin of history because the fashion is for paler colored rosė wines. And while this is definitely a contrarian view and one very much out of fashion, in the last month I have tasted some lovely and table worthy rosė wines, let’s say ones with a bit more of a tan than their Provençal cousins. It feels like I have written this post before. Let’s dive in.

Lagrein Rosė – from Alto-Adige, often thought to be the land of rich, minerally-driven white wines. But red wine is made is healthy doses. This producer, Lageder, makes scores of different wines. But one of my favorites from their stable is the Lagrein rosė. The wine is deeply colored, can take a little more bottle age, and will develop like a red wine. Not too long, but if you see a 2011 on a wine list, grab it. Currently the 2013 is in release, while the 2014 takes a little more time to come around. There is no rush to grab the summer of 2105 rosė market, that elusive selling period in America between Memorial day (end of May) and Labor Day ( beginning of September). Fruit, acid, even a little but tannic, with spice and body and character. I’ve had this wine in the dead of winter with a rich stew. For white wine lovers, this is a great bridge to red without going “all the way.”

Pelaverga – technically not a rosė wine, but the color qualifies it for the light red tone of this post. And it works in the same situation That is, a wine with depth, with layers of flavor. Again a light red for folks who favor white wine. This wine finishes longer than the lighter rosė wines currently in fashion. Different target audience, for sure. But there might be a day when the light rosė drinker seeks to expand their drinking spectrum. Burlotto's Pelaverga, though made is rather small quantities, would be a nice stop on that expanded path.

Tuscany has a good tradition of rosato wine. And Sangiovese is no shrinking violet when it comes to that category. While the lighter Provençal inspired style is sweeping the Tuscan coastline, there are still some darker rosės to consider. Valentina Bolla recently expanded the repertoire of her family winery, Poggio Verrano, to include this new experimental rosė, Vale in Rose. A very small amount of this has been made in 2014, mainly for friends and family. It’s a lovely wine, rich and full of flavor. Can it compete with Miraval? Did Sophia Loren ever need to worry about Bridgette Bardot? Can the world not allow for two different types of beauty?

Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo – Abruzzo has long had a tradition of deeper colored rosės. The spicy arrabbiata pasta I once had in the Marche Abruzzo border town of San Benedetto del Tronto infused in me a love for Cerasuolo d’ Abruzzo. Made from the Montepulciano grape, this is a good fix for folks who love fruit-driven red wines that are spicy but who want to power down from the big red when the weather is warm. Again, not so fashionable in the world of marketing. But one would never know that on the Adriatic coastal towns, where Cerasuolo flies off the tables.

Sicily makes anything and everything. And most of what they make they do it right, by my reckoning. One of my great pleasures is to drink Sicilian rosė in the summer, make that the relentless summer heat of Texas. We don’t stop eating Tex-Mex or our beloved Texas BBQ, and while tequila and beer are more prevalent with those kinds of foods, there are those of us slaves to the wine god who want wine. At the Tasca estate they make their Le Rose di Regaleali from Nerello Mascalese grapes in stainless steel tanks under the influence of partially macerated Nero ’d’Avola skins. The color is lighter or darker from year to year, but the 2014 has a deeper tan.

Some folks might worry that this will affect the popularity of this wine vs. the more popular Provençal rosės. The reality is there is one leader, Miraval, which makes up so much of the sale of the lighter rosė wines, that no one will catch up. So let them go, let them introduce folks to the category. Like some of the White Zinfandel drinkers migrated to Pinot Noir, the hope is that we will catch the lighter rosė drinker when they, if they, choose to look deeper.

That is the key to this particular set of rosė wine. Is it a stop along the road, or is it a delving in to find other wines, perhaps ones more profound? Is profundity something a rosė drinker cares for? Well, there are more than a few of us who love the deeper color, the richer flavors, and who care to drink them all year round. After all, we drink white wine throughout the year. Why not rosė as well?

written by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W
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