Rosés may be all the rage, but one should never judge a rosé by its color — nor wait for a season to gain permission to drink rosé. Unfortunately, the rather deep-pink color of many rosés of the world is often perceived as a mystery. The pigmented hues are viewed as something of an anomaly to the light-pink beauties. Sadly, this is a misconception.
Easy-drinking and extremely versatile in its affinity to pair with a wide variety of foods, rosés — regardless of their shade — are delicious. Rosés can be enjoyed through every season and location, from seaside to fireside, but winter’s cold dark nights is perhaps present opportunities to explore the darker, more luxurious, often fruitier and complex side of the category. Nevertheless, each type of pink wine has its place, matching well with different ingredients, foods and preparations.
Hailing from Abruzzo, Italy, is Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo. Made of the indigenous Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grape, this cherry-red beauty is bold, structured and generous, offering immensely refreshing, crunchy red fruit juiciness.
Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is an official denomination and appellation, established as a DOC in 2010, and it was among the first Italian denominations to champion the rosato style.The name cerasuolo, which means “cherry-red,” relates to the wine’s deep color that comes from the very brief contact with the highly pigmented skins of the Montepulciano grape.
Winemaker Cristiana Tiberio of Agricola Tiberio produces a rich, vibrant, cheerful and elegant Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo with flavors of sour cherry, pomegranate violet and rhubarb. Its lip-smacking acidity, firm structure and tactile mouthfeel lead to a lengthy and remarkably fresh finish.
The main goal of Tiberio’s esteemed estate, which she runs with her brother Antonio, is producing wines that clearly express the characteristics of the land, vintage-by-vintage. For this reason, Tiberio wines vary annually because they do not follow standard winemaking recipes or force their grapes or their terroir to give something that they cannot.
“In drinking Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, I look for its elegant, luminous energy able to represent the precise sense of my place,” Cristiana Tiberio said.
The rolling Abruzzo hills, which slope down from the Apennines toward the Adriatic Sea, are characterized by gentle sea breezes blowing through from the mountainous Majella mountain range. Tiberio’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes, from more than 50-year-old vines, are fermented in stainless steel. Never harvested overripe and never over-extracted, grapes are specifically selected for freshness rather than ripeness.
“The result of the natural fermentation is this characteristic and unique wine, with cherry color, complex and deep flavors of crunchy red fruit, long, fresh, vibrant texture with a little tannins,” Tiberio said.
Pair Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo with lighter courses and seafood, but also experiment with richer foods that offer great flavors and textures, from spicy foods to hearty meat dishes.
“It has so many multifaceted aspects thanks to which the food-matching range is really wide and thrilling,” Tiberio said.
Located just across the Rhône River from [France’s] Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s famed reds is the town of Tavel. This small area also shares the same the name of the powerful pink wine that is produced here.
Tavel makes rosés and nothing else. And for a wine to be called Tavel, it must be a rosé. Robed in a dark color, Tavel has deep a history to match, as a staple of the ancient papal court in Avignon and a favorite of Louis XIV. Tavel was also the first designated AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) rosé in France in 1937.
Apparently, Tavel was Hemingway’s favorite rosé. He wrote about it in The Garden of Eden, a novel of the perils of adventurous love. While rosés have long evoked romance, perhaps the real love comes from the food and the company that conspire to make the pink wine experience that much better. The gorgeous color and bouquet raise the moment to sheer contentment. And thanks to Tavel’s full-body potency, it can challenge light red wines with its mouthfeel and structure and is one of the few rosés that can age.
Tavel is made with longer maceration — up to three or four days — and ranges in color from copper-pink to blood-range red. A fair amount of grape varieties are permitted in Tavel in addition to Grenache, the base of Tavel wine. Among the reds are Syrah, Mourvèdre,Cinsaut, Carignan and Calitor. White grapes include Clairette, Clairette Rose, Bourboulenc and Picpoul.
Grown in a geological patchwork, from fine sand to galets roulés and fractured limestone, Tavel’s terroir is able to showcase its “place” in the glass, with intense flavors of watermelon, red berries and cherries and spice loaded with freshness and acidity. As Tavel develops, it can be characterized with botanical savoriness from the blend of herbs (garrigue) — particularly thyme, rosemary and lavender — that grow wild around the hillsides. As in rosés in general, Tavel is extremely food-friendly, but its richness and complexity make it a great partner for heavier foods.
Chateau d’Aquéria is one of the best-known estates. Also look for Domaine de la Mordorée, Domaine des Carabiniers and Lavau.