If you haven’t already, it’s high time to relinquish any and all feelings of disrepute toward rosé. Its reputation may have been tarnished from the years of being thought of as a sugary mess of Kool-Aid that is White Zinfandel. While the argument stands that said juice served its purpose as gateway wine, I’d say avoid it at all cost (unless, of course, you appreciate a good hangover). The truth is elegant and balanced dry rosés of France’s Provence region and Italy’s rosatos have been around all along. These are the wines that have stood the test of time and the wines that serve as inspiration for the host of wonderful rosés from around the world.
Not necessarily the first place that one would think to look for an amazing example of delicious rosé, or great wine in general, Italy’s Puglia region is forging an identity as a major force in the world wine market. Though Sicily has more land under-vine, Puglia (Apulia) produces more wine than any other region in Italy. Puglia’s focus has traditionally been on oceans of simple land wine and on juice intended on being shipped out for blending in other areas. It’s been more recently that the trend of producing mass quantities of wine has given way somewhat to winemakers focusing on wine as an artisan product and benefit from the area’s clay and limestone rich soil and seaside climate. It is already paying off with delicious examples from all over the region. The future is very bright for Puglian wine!
Primarily known for its reds Primitivo – genetically identical to Califonia’s Zinfandel and Croatia’s Crljenak Kaštelanski (one half of the duo that parented the Croatian grape Plavac Mali), Negroamaro – ubiquitous on Puglia’s Salento peninsula, and Nero di Troia – the star on deck, Puglia also holds plantings of other reds and whites of promise.
2007 Alberto Longo “Donadelle” Pulgia, Italy – Negroamaro Rosé
Alberto Longo’s “Donadelle” has worn multiple hats since the first time I had it. It’s been the consummate afternoon wine and the late night remedy when, at the end of a long work shift, I really just need something refreshing. The only other beverages that tend to frequent this part of my schedule, flanking the latter end of ten hours of speaking about wine, are water and … well… beer. The Puglian native’s rosé has served well in both of these circumstances and has always tasted delicious. To say that I’ve gone back to this one several times is an understatement. We spent one afternoon drinking it next to rosé from Provence, which in many minds is the one and only real rosé. The pale salmon color was comparable. The weight and acidity were right in line. Yet, I never really noticed the layers as I did in the rosés of Provence. This last time, when I really sat down to get to know it, I found a different story. Each time I’ve strived to get a more intimate feel for it, I’ve been happily surprised. One of the marks of a great wine is one that each time offers a new realm of complexity- one that is something unique each time you revisit the glass for another sip. Another qualifier is a wine that is truly balanced; Alberto Longo’s “Donadelle” is successful in this as well.
Textural mid palette and cherry blossom reminiscent of cherries and cream. Around the edges are tons of aromatics and spice: jasmine, undertones of clove, the bright zing of Szechuan green peppercorns. Guava and lime round out the fruit spectrum and everything is brightened and heightened by a racy backbone of acidity. It’s great straight out of the ice, but I’d recommend letting this wine sit out for a little while to really get a feel for what it has to offer.
A hot day, food off the grill, peel and eat shrimp piping hot or icy cold, a second and third glass – basically…. any damn thing you want.
Californians can feel comfortable shopping for rosé in the backyard again. Skip over the Sutter Home and pick up a bottle of Unti Vineyard’s grenache/syrah/mourvedre blend or County Line’s rosé of Pinot Noir!!!
Also recommended from Alberto Longo – “Le Cruste” 100% Nero di Troia (red) – Full bodied, floral, supple and delicious.
Importer: Tamalpais Wine Agency
Purchased at: A16 Restaurant
Also available at: Biondivino