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Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo: Italy’s serious rosé

While we consume swathes of lightly coloured rosé every year, it would be a shame to overlook Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo, Italy's cherry-coloured alternative...

The rosé wine of Abruzzo – the region east of Rome on the Adriatic coast – is made from the red Montepulciano grape, the area’s flagship variety and one of Italy’s most extensively planted. Known as Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, the DOC has only existed since 2010; these wines previously fell under the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC.

Cerasuolo translates as ‘pale cherry red’, and these wines get their distinctive deep hue from a short maceration of 24 hours or less. The high level of anthocyanins in the skin of the Montepulciano grape imbues the must with both colour and tannin in a short timeframe. This is in contrast to the fashionable lighter style of rosé, which is typically made by running the juice off from the skins immediately after pressing.

Often matured in stainless steel for several months before bottling, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo has a fruity profile with zippy acidity from a combination of sun, altitude and cool mountain breezes. The best examples are structured more like red wines, showcasing tannins and intense red fruit flavours yet astonishing freshness at the same time. Unlike many rosés, this makeup makes these wines able to age for a few years.

Carasuolo d’Abruzzo is for wine lovers who are bored of the endless Provence-style rosés, or who enjoy lighter reds such as Beaujolais Villages (or its crus), Schiava, or Etna Rosso. Thanks to its intense, tannic character with good acidity, this rosé is a great companion for food: from lobster bisque to a Serrano ham and pomegranate salad, and even dim sum.

Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo: Factbox

Just 970 hectares of vines are devoted to production of Abruzzo’s pink wine, significantly down on both the Montepulciano and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOCs (9,600ha and 5,400ha respectively).

Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo must contain a minimum of 85% Montepulciano, with other locally permitted varieties allowed for the remaining 15%. In practice, many are 100% Montepulciano.

The wines are eligible for release on 1 January the year after harvest.

Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo Superiore demands a higher minimum ABV (12.5% vs 12%) and longer minimum maturation (around four months vs two months)

Cherry-picking Cerasuolo:

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