Features 1 minute 24 August 2017

Top 5 Italian Grape Varieties For Making Rosé Wine

Love Rosé? Then you’ll enjoy the unique expressions that these five grape varieties produce.

Italian wine

Italian varietals are a-plenty across the vast appellations of the country. And while most red grape varieties are made for red table wines, there’s actually quite a few that are used for Rosé (or, Rosato, in Italian) production as well. For instance, Aglianico, Montepulciano, Negroamaro, Nerello Mascalese and Sangiovese are grape varieties that make for some really good rose. 

Here’s a guide to each expression.

Top regions for Rosé: Basilicata and Campania

Aglianico is grown in the south of Italy, coming from the appellations of Basilicata and Campania. Wine reviewer Monica Larner states: "These Rosatos tend to be brighter in colour and firmer in structure. The Aglianico grape has very high natural tannins and those come through even when the wine sees extremely brief skin contact. I pair them with white meat or baked fish in a heavier cream sauce. You need that extra power to cut though those foods."

Top Region for Rosé: Abruzzo

Hailing most famously from the Abruzzo DOC on Italy’s eastern edge, the Montepulciano grape variety offers a distinct style of Rosé. This Rosé category is extremely interesting as Abruzzo is one of the first Italian regions to be so closely identified with pink-coloured wines. The Rosés made from this grape varietal are slightly heavier, bolder and darker in colour compared to other Italian regions associated with Rosé.
Top Region for Rosé: Puglia

Like Aglianico, Negroamaro is another grape variety that calls southeastern Italy its home. And in the sunshine-filled appellation of Puglia, the best-buy selections include crisp and acidic whites, floral Rosés, luminous sparklers and creamy dessert wines.

Nerello Mascalese
Top Region for Rosé: Etna

Coming from Sicily, Nerello Mascalese is indigenous to the island and grows particularly well in the Etna DOC. To be sure, the Etna terroir is perfect for producing refreshing Rosé, making it a premium region for the style. Etna Rosés are slightly sweet and tart, but what distinguishes them are the mineral, almost salty flavours that come from the blackened volcanic soils.

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Grapes used to make rose wine
Grapes used to make rose wine

Top Region for Rosé: Tuscany

The Rosés here are made from the celebrated Sangiovese grape more known for the red table wines that sit as a housepour in many Italian restaurants. Though the best grapes are usually reserved for top-shelf red wines, they are also well-suited to making Rosé as they are grown across the large region of Tuscany from the Coastal areas to the higher-altitude vineyards in the Italian Apennine Mountains.
Recommended Reading: For more stories on wine, click here. 

This article first appeared on Robert Parker Wine Advocate in May 2017. Click here for more stories from Wine Journal.


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