2018 Le Vigne di Faraone Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo
Blend: 100% Montepulciano
From Abruzzo, Italy
“Italian sommeliers say you can serve Cerasuolo with anything. It combines the freshness of rosé with the robustness of Montepulciano,” Albanesi says. The group at his booth murmurs appreciatively.
Cerasuolo means “cherry” in Italian, and Cerasulo d’Abruzzo wines like Torre dei Beatti’s have a deep, almost garnet color that distinguishes them from pale, Provencal-style rosés that dominate the American market. They are made from Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, the grape that comprises some 80 percent of DOC wine production in Abruzzo, a region two hours east of Rome.
If you haven’t heard of Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC before, it’s understandable. The designation was created in 2010. To add to any possible confusion, there’s a similarly named Sicilian wine, Cerasuolo di Vittoria.
Quality Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo wines are tannic, with more structure and nuance than many of the Provencal-style bottles American rosé drinkers might call “crushable.” The style has a lot to offer, appealing to those who casually drink pink wine at summer parties, and to industry folks who prefer their Cru Beaujolais and Etna reds served with a slight chill.
Charlie Arturaola, a sommelier based in Miami, praises the versatility of Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo with different foods. “It nearly has the structure of a red wine,” he says. “Think outside the box next time you eat dim sum, Thai, or Korean cuisine.”
Cerasuolo gets its namesake color from very limited contact with the dark-hued skins of Montepulciano grapes.
“It should be this cherry color,” Valentina di Camillo, winemaker at Abruzzo’s Tenuta I Fauri, says, gesturing to a bottle of Fauri’s lean, angular Cerasuolo. “A lot of winemakers are changing their color because the Provencal style is so popular … But the natural color is this. The skins of Montepulciano are full of color.”
Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is typically fermented and aged for three or so months in stainless steel. Unlike red Montepulciano wines, many of which benefit from bottle aging, Cerasuolos are meant to drink young.
“This is the wine families used to drink in the region because it’s strong enough to face any kind of food, lamb or pork or pasta or even fish,” di Camillo says. “It’s a really refreshing wine, a very drinkable wine.”
This wine: Founded in 1916, Faraone is now in it’s 3rd generation of winemaking tradition. Following the unexpected death of his father last year, Frederico Faraone, who trained in Udine and Dijon is now at the helm. This wine, called cerasuolo, is essential wine for Abruzzi citizens.
Taste: Made from the free run juice of their famous montepulciano, this wine is the everyday, light red, that can be served at cellar temp or even a little more chilled on a hot day. You might notice the back label says rose. But that is because the importer chose to put that on there. If you ask the Faraone family, they will insist it is not rose, it is a light bodied red.
Pairing: This wine sings with all summer fare. Barbecue, pizza, charcuterie, there isn’t much you can find that this wine won’t work with. I love grilling a piece of red meat and serving it alongside heirloom tomatoes dressed in olive oil, basil, mint and feta. Served with this wine on a sunny patio, you might almost forget that the world is burning down around you!
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