As soon as hot sunny days arrive, Cerasuolo wine takes frontstage in Abruzzo. The region’s answer to conventional rosé, it has also been winning the hearts and palates of international wine connoisseurs lately. Anything but conventional, Cerasuolo stands apart from the frou-frou wimpy pale rosé. Made from Montepulciano D’Abruzzo grapes, the wine is vibrant cherry-red, darker than its many international counterparts are. It is a perfect summer drink if you are not a big fan of white wine but find reds too hefty in hot weather. The reduced contact time (from two to eight hours) between the fermenting juice and the grape skins means that Cerasuolo is lower in tannins, lighter, zestier and frutier than Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, yet has more structure and character than white wines.
Although many wineries across Italy have jumped on the pink wine bandwagon due to its growing popularity, Abruzzo boasts a long tradition of rosé. Several producer, such as Cataldi Madonna, Valentini and Emidio Pepe, have been making Cerasuolo decades before everyone else. In 2010, Cerasuolo entered the DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) category, which means it is made in certain viticultural zones with strictly regulated grape varieties and methods. However, you will find the traditional style Cerasuolo anywhere you go in Abruzzo, although, by law, if produced outside the DOC regulations, it has to be called “rosato”.
A handful of winemakers in the region still use old traditional methods, such as saignée, or salasso in Italian, for making Cerasuolo: a portion of grape juice is removed from the must at an early stage while the rest of it continues to ferment to become red wine. Technically speaking, it is a byproduct of red wine production and, often, sneered at by wine snobs. However, the salasso method has a long history and was used to make Cerasuolo in the old days.
See the top three recommended Cerasuolo choices in the May issue of ABRUZZISSIMO Magazine. Click here to subscribe.