Recently I was contacted by Caterina Baldini, president and co-founder of Puglia in Rosè, a producers’ association dedicated to Pugliese rose’. She asked me if I would like to sample some wines and meet some producers via the Internet of Puglia rose’.
Caterina explained that Puglia in Rosè, based in Bari, is the first producers’ association dedicated to Apulian Rosè wines. The aim of the association is to make Apulian rose’ wine better known and appreciated by wine professionals and consumers in both the national and international markets.
Rosè wines have a long history in Puglia. The first winemaker to popularize the wine was Don Piero De Castris in 1943 when he produced a rosè from the negroamaro grape at his winery in Salice Salentino. His first production was put in beer bottles and called “Four Roses” but soon, with the improvement in the bottling line, it became the first rose’ bottled in Italy and sold in the USA.
Puglia is one of Italy’s largest and best producers of Rose and the wines come in different styles and colors ranging from a pale pink, to salmon to dark pink. Some are so dark that they could be mistaken for a red wine and there is a rosè from Puglia for every occasion and taste. When l was the wine director and sommelier at I Trulli, a Pugliese restaurant in NYC, we had a large selection of roses from Puglia and they were very popular.
Caterina arranged for me to receive some samples and we made an appointment for our first meeting.
On Zoom, Caterina introduced Maria Viola Petroni, the owner of Donna Viola, a division of Petroni Vini. She is the fifth generation in her family to be involved in wine, a tradition that goes back to 1865. She told me that she follows every step of production from the cultivation of the grapes to marketing.
The Donna Viola winery is located on the most elevated hills of the Alta Murgia in Puglia. They have 10 hectares of vineyards and they are very traditional. They only make wines that are monovarietal, 100% of one variety, using only indigenous grapes.
Donna Viola “Tramonto” (Sunset) IGP Puglia 2019 made from 100% Bombino Nero. There is a very low temperature controlled fermentation, which lasts for 12 to15 days to preserve the delicate aromas and flavors of the wine. The color is a light pink with orange reflections. Bombino Nero is a very delicate variety to work with but it is well suited to make rosè wines. It has been in Puglia for a long time but might have come from Spain.
I asked Maria how they arrived at the color that they want and she replied, “Unlike the maceration method which gives some time for the juice to be in contact with the skins, our rosè wines are made from the immediate pressing of red skin grapes without any maceration time. We work our red grapes in a soft press for 1-2 hours. Through a glass, we can see the color of the juice and when we think the color is perfect for us, we transfer the juice into steel tanks. This is the better method to make rosè wine, because with the soft press we choose only the best quality of juice to produce top quality rosè wine.”
The wine remains in stainless steel for 6 months and is bottled in the spring following the harvest. The wine has hints of cherry, strawberry, raspberry, wild roses and a touch of almonds and is fresh and soft on the palate. Maria said the wine should always be between 12 and 12-1/2% alcohol to keep its fresh flavors and aromas. The wine matches well with seafood, white meat, antipasto and fruit.
I will be talking to more producers of Puglia and will keep you posted on my findings.