The beginning of fall doesn’t have to mean the end of rosé season. It’s just time to move on to the richer, deeper rosés, particularly those from Spain and Italy, ones that possess more body than their light pink Provençal French counterparts. Like those French wines you’ve been guzzling all summer by the pool, you will want to pick up younger bottles, vintages from the last couple of years, as these wines rarely age well. The Spanish cousins, commonly referred to as rosados, are predominately made from Garnacha (grenache) and Tempranillo grapes, but you can find other varietals mixed in to bring out sweet and tart notes. From Italy come rosatos, our favorites being Cerasuolos from Abruzzo, “cherry red” wines made from the famous Montepulciano grapes. Either way, these rosés can take you through to the last warm October days.
Coming from all over the Iberian peninsula, Spanish rosado producers take advantage of different microclimates for their different varietals. They can then aim for wine that is drier, fruitier, and tartier than those dry Provençal Pinot Noir-based rosés and sweet California blushes. Since they are allowed to experiment and blend to their heart’s content, you can also take a chance on rosado made from grapes other than Garnacha and Tempranillo. Two good examples of Spanish rosado made from 100% Bobal grapes—red wine grapes that are native to Spain—are the Tarantas Rosé (Natural Merchants) and 2014 Nodus Rosado, both grown and bottled in the Utiel-Requena DO, an area just west of Valencia. These raspberry-colored vintages have strawberry and currant notes, with a little cranberry-esque tartness towards the end of your sip. There are some small differences; the Tarantas is made from organic grapes, and the Nodus also has a stronger red berry scent. Both retail for about $10-12.
Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo wine must specifically come from the Abruzzo region, east of Rome; and has to be at least 85% Montepulciano—other red-skinned varietals growing in Abruzzo may make up the rest of the bottle. A favorite is the 2014 Torre Dei Beati, $16 with its deeper dark cherry color matching notes of strawberry, pomegranate, and cherry. The organic 2015 Valle Reale, $15 (Leonardo LoCascio Selections) is made from 100% Montepulciano grapes and takes on a deep salmon pink hue. In the glass, you’ll get Montepulciano’s signature jammy flavors of cherries, berries, and plums, but not as strong as a bottle of full red Montepulciano.
All of these wines pair well with lighter, summery fare: pasta courses, grilled fish and white meats, and vegetable-centric dishes. We wouldn’t suggest drinking them with some of the heavier autumnal food coming into play this time of the year, instead enjoy them as a pre-dinner drink with antipasto or light, mild cheeses.