What do you expect from rosé? Crispness? Refreshment? Fruits and flowers and little else? And does the color matter to you? I’ve always been flummoxed by this category of wine, for the measuring sticks we use to gauge it are so different from other wines. I like to explore details, tease apart aromas and textures, and find the little kernel of uniqueness that makes the wine memorable. As much as I dislike generalizations, here is one: with a majority of rosé, this approach is as much a fool’s errand as it is simply missing the point. Rosé can be a release valve from the seriousness of everyday life. (So apparently, the issue isn’t the wine, it’s me).
However, once in a blue moon I come across a rosé that wants to play my game. Enter this Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo from Amorotti, a very intriguing winery located in Loreto Aprutino in the rugged central interior of Italy.
If that village name sounds familiar to the wine obsessed in the audience, its because Valentini is also located in Loreto Aprutino. In fact, Amorotti’s winemaker, Gaetano Carboni, is a peer of Francesco Valentini, for they are neighbors on the same street.
Like Valentini, Amorotti makes fiercely traditional wines, with this direct-press rosato enjoying an oak cask élevage of one year. It’s nearly vermillion color proudly announces its separation from the pale, pop-song rosé of the mass market. The nose immediately thereafter does not disappoint, revealing a supersonic set of notes reminiscent of apricots, crisp apples, orange spice tea, dried coconut, beeswax and a profusion of yellow flowers. I huffed on these aromas like an oxygen-starved athlete at altitude.
There was also a slight tinge of brownness in its flavors, as though the wine flirted with oxidation but never committed. In this way, it was more suggestive of a white Rhône and quite similar in tenor and nature to Amorotti’s stellar Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (★★★★★), a white wine that I will have to write about another time. These are wines that express so much, including a certain timeless quality that only traditionally-made wines can reveal. There is a time and place for polished wines, and there is a time and place for the beautiful rustic. This summer, I’m embracing the latter.
2018 Amorotti Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo
Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC (Abruzzo)
Grapes: Montepulciano (100%)
Opinion: ★★★★★ (out of five)
• Food-friendliness: Highly versatile
• Value: A Little Pricey
Click the wine icons above to learn more
A beginner might like … The vermillion color and profusion of aromas. In many ways, the demeanor of this wine has more in common with skin-contact “orange wines” than with our usual rosé frame of reference. Breath it in. It’s wild.
A wine-obsessive might like … Those flirtatious notes of oxidation. Many rosé are fermented in stainless steel under strict temperature control, yielding a clean wine with fresh fruits and crispness. Again: time and place for everything. Here, the black-fruit flavors of Montepulciano transform into vivid orange-stone fruit, tea-like tones and an edgy nuttiness that comes directly from the choice to raise this wine in oak casks for a year.
Open a Bottle in Your Email
Subscribe to our monthly email digest.