Perfect Puglian Rosé
The last few years have seen the transformation of rosé from a naive choice to a knowing one, especially in the summer, but I have a hard time finding rosés I really enjoy; most dry rosés taste bitter to me. Our local wine shop, owned by a Frenchman, features an astounding range of French rosés all summer. The last time I stopped by, my friend and store employee Robert — who has become my personal shopper, knowing my tastes and preferences to a “T” — greeted me with the news that they had a new rosé I should try. Since I always take Robert’s advice, I took two bottles, but only when I got home realized that it was not only an Italian rosé, or more properly, a rosato, but that it was from Puglia — the region Joe and I are visiting on our next trip to Italy, in September! Even better, it was just my type of rosé — not too dry, with a creamy texture and flavors of peach, strawberry, and even a bit of citrus and tropical fruit. Best of all, it was not too expensive! This is a great option for a warm summer evening, especially when salmon or other fish — including shellfish — is on the menu. It’s an equally great choice when there isn’t anything on the food menu, and you just want a light yet substantive glass of something that says, “summer is here — relax and enjoy!”
Puglia is the heel of Italy’s boot, and it is known for olive oil, seafood, and wonderful wine. This wine is from the Salento region, which is a valley right in the middle of Puglia, near the Baroque city of Lecce. Preparing for our trip, Joe and I have gotten really excited about visiting the Salento for wines, so I was especially interested to preview a wine from the Salento Valley before our departure. This one makes me all the more enthusiastic about what we might find there! Negroamaro is the grape varietal, but there are so many Italian varietals that I am a long way from keeping them all straight, and the good news is that to enjoy Italian wines you don’t have to know the varietals! The region — and trying the wine itself — are much more important. Never having heard of Negroamaro before, I am now an enthusiast for the rosato it can make! Joe and I will try to make it to the Cantele Winery while we are in Puglia and report back, but for now you can check out their web site here.
When I saw that this rosato was an IGT wine — Indicazione Geographica Tipica — I wasn’t surprised. It used to be that the classifications of all Italian wine indicated relative quality: DOCG wines were the best, DOC second-best, and IGT wines the leftovers: the wines that didn’t make it into one of the more exclusive classifications. But the stringent restrictions of a DOCG or DOC designation don’t lend themselves to creative explorations, so more and more IGT wines — freed of the constraints of DOC / DOCG rules — are the product of the most creative and interesting Italian winemakers. Gone are the days that IGT meant “cheap and bad.” Now, while some IGT wines are still the bargain swill for which Italy was long ago infamous, you shouldn’t be intimidated by an IGT designation if the wine is recommended by someone reputable, like my friend Robert at Du Vin. IGT now also means, “interesting, creative, and bold!”
If you like creamy, fruity (but not too sweet) rosés, I recommend the IGT Negroamaro rosato from Cantele. If you’re in the LA area, you can find it at Du Vin Wines on San Vicente at the corner of Melrose, in West Hollywood. Let us know what you think!