Go to Italy’s Puglia, Land of Rosati, For the Rosé Days of Summer

Rosé wine from Puglia is called rosato

Rosé in Italian means rosato and rosato in Italy means Puglia because if you’re looking for rosato in Italy, the place to go is Puglia where over 40% of Italy’s rosati (plural for rosato) comes from.

Some even say the birth place of this popular pink drink is Puglia!

A few years ago, we wrote about Italian wines for fall and we went with six rosati — including one from Puglia! Read about the wines and the pairings here: “Italian Red Wines for Fall? Go Pink and Pair with Pasta!”

Puglia — pronounced more like Julia with a “p” than anything to do with a pug nosed dog– is the heel of boot shaped Italy, with its biggest city Bari, along with its international airport, located at the top of the heel and below the spur.

Long and narrow, various large bodies of water moderate the heat of the hot dry, sunny summers and produces a strong coastal breeze. To the east, you’ll swim in the Adriatic Sea; to the southwest you’ll dip in the Ionian Sea,  and to the south you’ll sip rosé or rosato by the Strait of Otranto and Gulf of Taranto.

Graphic from the Puglia Rose association of the heel of the boot where Apulia is located; kind of looks like a pink seahorse!

Being the hottest and driest of all of Italy’s 20 regions, no wonder rosato is so popular among the four million people line in a region of almost 7.5 square miles!

Sounds pretty good for growing wine grapes, yes? In fact, with vineyards covering almost 264,000 acres, Apulia, comes in first Italian grape-growing regions.

“We are lucky in our region. We have good sun every year so the grape we obtain is very good,” says Cantine D’Alessandro.

“Puglia is the land of the king of the red wine,” says Donna Viola.

And that red wine tends to be Primitivo — 40% of the region’s production is that grape. After primitivo, negroamaro and Nero di troia.

Well known for tolerance and openness, Apulians (pronounced like “Julians”) embrace LBGTQ culture and pride, and the area host three annual Pride parades, including Salento Pride– where I am sure everyone drinks a lot of pink Rosato!

Here’s a few to try for the rosé days of summer. You may have missed National Rosé Day, the second Saturday of June but there’s time before the International Rosé Day the fourth Friday of June and there’s another Rosé Day in August.

But truly every day is a Rosé Day as far as I’m concerned!

Warning, you may have to go to Puglia because they may not be distributed in the US yet! And stay tuned for more stories about this pink drink — we have two more rosato samples from Puglia, plus rosé from L’Ecole in Washington, rosé from Barra in Mendocino, and rosé from Portugal too!

Want more Italian summery wines? On July 3, look for an article on Ramato, an Italian copper colored wine made from Pinot Grigio grapes– and learn how it is and isn’t like rosé or even orange wine.

Late July is Prosecco Week — and I’ll be participating!

And in August we’ll feature Lombardy’s Lugana.

That’s right — there’s a lot more to Italy’s wine than Chianti and Barolo!

Puglia and focaccia

Wines

  • Cantine D’Alessandro “Cattedrale” Sangiovese Rosato, IGP Puglia 
  • 2019 Donna Viola Infranto Nero di Troia Rosato, IGP Puglia 
  • 2019 Donna Viola Tramonto Bombino Nero Rosato, IGP Puglia 
  • 2019 Romaldo Greco Negroamaro Rosato, IGP Salento, Puglia

While Sangiovese and other Italian and international grapes are also grown in Puglia, from north to south, Puglia vineyards focus on different indigenous or very local grapes for rosato.

In the spur of the heel grows Nero di Troia, the moving south, you’ll find Bombino Nero. In the middle around the largest city Bari grows Primitivo di Gioia del Colle, To the east of the heel features Primitivo, and to the east is Susumaniello, and at the end of the heel vines in Salento are Negroamaro.

We decided to pair these wines with mini gourmet pizzas because they offer such a range of bites and flavors. While we have some general ideas of what will work with pink wines like these, it’s fun to find some surprising new flavor combinations this way.

Menu

  • Ceasar salad
  • Herb, garlic, tomato focaccia
  • Sue’s Gourmet Mini Pizzas List of Ingredients 
    1. Sue started with purchased pizza crust which she formed into several small, palm shaped balls, then formed into small crusts.
    2. Brie and creamy blue for a base topped with mozzarella, mushrooms, proscuitto and fresh garlic.
    3. Pesto base with mozzarella, olives, mushroom, sun dried tomato crumbled feta
    4. Pesto base with fresh mozzarella spicy and regular salami and olives
    5. Red sauce base with meats
    6. Red sauce base with fresh mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, fresh oregano
    7. The others were pizza sauce base and had three or more of the following toppings
    • Mushroom
    • Kalamata olives
    • Green olives
    • Spicy salami
    • Regular salami
    • Proucitto
    • Sundried tomato
    • Anchovy wrapped capers
    • Chopped garlic
    • Fresh oregano and rosemary

Puglia

Cantine D’Alessandro “Cattedrale” Sangiovese Rosato IGP Puglia
ABV
SRP ?

The label looks a bit like a sea urchin and the sun. According to Sheila Donahue of Verovino, sea urchins are big in Puglia, and since I love sea urchin pasta, now I know I need to go there because yum!

However, in a ZOOM interview I learned the image on the label is a stylization of a cathedral window — and cathedral windows like this are also big in Puglia. They chose the label in part because it reflects the culture and they think the color and design will attract young people.

This family has been working in grapes from the 19th century. Today they farm 55 hectares near the sea. It’s a small family based company of 50k liters with a few workers helping from the community.

“When I was young, I enjoyed myself during the vintage period because I can look at my father at work. I look at the love he put into his work.”

While in Puglia many people sell their grape, this family says,

“We produce the grape.
We produce the wine.
and we can check the wine until the bottling.”

They focus on grapes indigenous to the area including Fiano, Verdichio, and Procanico. More recently they’ve planted uva di troia. For their rosato, they grow trebbiano, sangiovese, and Malvasia Nero. They tried Negoramoaro but, they weren’t impressed with the result: “not very good in our soil, it doesn’t find good conditions.”

While they are not certified, their primitivo is organic, and they are moving to using more biodynamic practices.

The sangiovese rosato spent 24 hours on the skins then four months in the cellar in stainless steel. In this first rosato, “We made for young people, freshness, easy to drink.”

Color: Salmon rose, light reflects golden tones while in the glass.

Nose: Sue said licorice right away. I found more florals, rose petals, cherries, carnations.

Palate: Fruity and spicy, easy to enjoy, we like it! Not too complicated, not sweet.

Pairing: This Sangio rosato Sue said made the salad a bit bitter and the fruit in the wine a bit sweet. Stick with a meat pizza to enjoy this wine. It loves the spice and the fat of a salami, pepperoni pizza, even better with the grill flavors when done on the BBQ.

Puglia

2019 Donna Viola Infranto Nero di Troia IGP Puglia
ABV 13.0%
SRP
in conversion to organic certification
sample for my review and interview 

I spoke with the fifth generation– a family working in the vineyards in Puglia and making wine since 1865. Their mission is to start with traditional methods and use local varieties like verdichio, trio, primitivo, bombino de Nero. Small, they grow the grapes and make 50-70k bottles a year.

The label represents day and shows the color of the sky at sunset, and has Braille. They are very eye catching.

She painted the label: “I wanted to represent our land and our vineyard.” But it is also a testimony to COVID, as it shows a breaking open, and a heart breaking testimony.

Yet there is new life — and new wine with bud break.

Color: Orange, orange gold

Nose: Florals like citrus flower, white waxy flowers and spring meadow flowers, fennel flower, fennel and grass for Sue, orange pith

Palate: Light and refreshing, great acidity, orange peel, fennel, black licorice on the finish. Up front jolly rancher watermelon.

Pairing: Fantastic with the Ceasar salad. The wine has a bite and the salad greens have a bite, when the two are paired together the bites cancel each other out and it become a lovely pleasing pairing. Really good with a  prosciutto pizza. I also found them to be fabulous with the pesto pizza with anchovy wrapped capers. It loved the green herb in the pesto, and the salinity of the anchovies. Both of these flavors made this dry wines so much fruitier.

Puglia

2019 Donna Viola Tramonto Bombino Nero, IGP Puglia
ABV 12.5%
SRP about $25
in conversion to organic certification
sample for my review and interview

The label shows the color of the sky at sunset, with the dark vines against the evening sky and has Braille.

The vineyards are 20 kms from the Adriatic Sea.

The two wines contest with each other nicely. Bombino can be more simple and easy going.

Color: Pale salmon, mauve

Nose: Red stone fruit, fresh plum, citrus blossom.

Palate: Stone fruit up front, citrus on the finish. Dry, acidic, there is a bit of salinity sippidity. Nice complexity, minerality.

Pairing: The rich creamy dressing in the Caesar salad was fantastic with the wine. It does not bring out ripe fruit in the wine as it did with the other wines, but it was very nice. This wine loved our salami, pepperoni and prosciutto pizza. It loves the spices in the meats and the rich fattiness of the food.

Rose from Puglia

2019 Romaldo Greco Negroamaro, IGP Salento, Puglia
ABV 12.5%
SRP ?

I have another wine from this producer and hopefully I’ll get an interview! In the meantime…

Color:  Light bright orange, with golden reflections of light

Nose: Orange and citrus blossoms, strawberry, violets, very subtle light nose

Palate: Bright cherry, wild strawberry, very tart fruit, dry and acidic. I picked up red hot candies and a bit of salinity. Sue found this to be nicely robust in comparison to the other wines. Shelia and I felt that this is a wine that Americans would appreciate.

Pairing: While this wine does not fight with the Ceasar salad, it was not the best pair when compared with the rest of the wines. The wine does not do too much to enhance the food, and the food does not do too much to enhance the wine, however, the four cheese pizza with prosciutto, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes was out of this world with this wine.

Plus cocktails!!

Rosita:

In a twist on the classic “Negroni Sbagliato,” this cocktail features Negramaro Extra Dry Sparkling wine along with Campari, vermouth, and orange bitters.

La Vie en Rose:

In a variation of Campari organic, use Nero di Troia with Campari, grapefruit juice, pink pepper and raspberries.

Curious about Puglia? I found this fun feature about Puglia’s open air market clothes!

Learn more about Puglia Rosato here.

So go beyond Provence to Puglia for some refreshing pink drinks for the rosé days of summer!

 

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