We The Italians | Italian wine: Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo: One of Italy's Great Rosè Wines

Italian wine: Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo: One of Italy's Great Rosè Wines

Italian wine: Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo: One of Italy's Great Rosè Wines

  • WTI Magazine #163 May 20, 2023
  • 417

Seeing that we’re creeping into May after this weekend I’m going to get a head start into my features for the month of May which is covering the wines of Abruzzo and Marche wine regions. This week I’m starting with the wines known as Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo and will feature a Cerasuolo from Cantina Tollo in Abruzzo.

Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is is one of Italy’s rosè style wines, also known as rosato. It stems from the word cerasa, which is dialect for cherry that is demonstrated in both the color and characteristics of the wine. They have a more intense flavor profile and aromas along with deeper colors in comparison to their French counterparts.

The juice goes through a white vinification or short maceration of the Montepulciano skin contact with the juice. The Montepulciano grape is high in anthocyanins, which lends the rich color to these wines. The wines are fresh and juicy with great acidity and light tannins. These wines are fruity with mostly red fruits of raspberries, strawberries and cherries filling the palate.

The Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo wines used to be known as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Cerasuolo that fell under the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC. In 2010 it was promoted to it’s own DOC, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC. These wines are made primarily from the Montepulciano grape in Abruzzo. The requirement of the appellation is a minimum of 85% Montepulciano with up to 15% other local grape varieties permitted, but many producers will use 100% Montepulciano grapes. These wines are eligible to be released to market January 1st the year after harvested allowing about 2-3 months of aging in the bottle before release.  

Cantina Tollo is a wine cooperative consisting of over 700 members in the Chieti province of Abruzzo. Their vineyards span over 6,100 acres from the Maiella massif of the central Apennines to the coastal hills. The winery was founded in 1960 at a time when many were evacuating the area for a more promising future. Since that time, they have played a key role in establishing the regulations of the area and making sure there are quality improvements in winemaking within the region. They also have won Best Cooperative in Italy since 2019 and have introduced a line of organic and certified vegan wines since 2020.

They focus on indigenous grapes of the region including Montepulciano, Passerina, Pecorina, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo and Cococciola across DOC and IGT appellations. These grapes are grown on pergola vines in a variety of soils from clay and sand to sandstone that are rich in minerals. The climate here is Mediterranean with considerate fluctuation in temperatures for optimal grape growing.

I sampled the 2022 Cantina Tollo Hedos Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOP wine made from 100% Montepulciano grapes. These grapes were harvested in October and fermented in stainless steel spending 4 months on the lees. One of my favorite things about Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is the beautiful color they produce in the glass. This wine has a beautiful deep salmon color. Aromas of wild strawberries with a hint of citrus. Light-bodied, crisp with refreshing acidity and juicy tart strawberries liven up the palate. A quite enjoyable every day refreshing rosè. 14%

Don’t confuse Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo with Cerasuolo di Vittoria. Cerasuolo di Vittoria is in Sicily and is their only DOCG. Cerasuolo di Vittoria is made from Frappato and Nero d’ Avola grapes. So, as you can see, two different regions, appellations and grapes used.