Though over the last 15 years or so they’ve begun to spring up like mushrooms after a fall rain, there is precious little tradition for rose` wine in Italy, especially coming from one of the country’s red wine capitals Piedmont, and made from the region’s king of grapes Nebbiolo, no less. Why this is I don’t know, but so it is.
When people think pink wine, they typically think sun-soaked seaside fish restaurants in Provence or Catalunya and so they should because this is where many if not most of the best rose` wines hail from…or did, until wines like this one from Italy’s Alpine hills began to enter the scene. A challenge coming from an unlikely place indeed.
The region of Piedmont from whence this wine comes is pretty far both geographically as well as characteristically from the wines from the briny shores of the Mediterranean too. The Colline Novaresi region, as the name implies, lies in the hills north of the city of Novara in northern Piedmont, just a few hops from the Swiss border. And though the Langhe region further south contains the superstar Nebbiolo appellations of Barolo and Barbaresco, these northern reaches of Piedmont actually play host to many more appellations – Gattinara, Ghemme, Boca, Fara, Lessona, Sizzano – in which Nebbiolo has just as long and great a tradition as their far more famous southern neighbors, and I’d argue that they’re wines that are by tradition more terroir-driven and more expressive and drinkable than the two “Big B’s” especially if price is a factor. These are wines that still retain most of Nebbiolo’s sinewy power that are associated with Barolo and Barbaresco, but are far more delicate, fragrant, and feminine than any Barolo or Barbaresco I’ve ever run across.
And even in Nebbiolo’s less-than-red form which this evening’s wine embodies, all of the characteristics of Novarese reds hold firmly true. At 13.5% alcohol this wine is no lightweight, but even without all of the pigmentation of its red-tinted cousins, it possesses a body sufficient to carry this volume of alcohol. But that said, all this pinkness beautifully frees up Nebbiolo’s unique and beautifully ethereal aromatics, making it far more versatile and charming dinner partner than any red Nebbiolo to boot…pretty pink Italian boots if you will…
I brought this rocking rose`to the table with plates of penne rigate dressed with a mushroom and leek cream sauce to start, and then a pan of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, spinach, onions, and red pepper flakes for the main course.
Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo Nebbiolo Colline Novaresi Rosato “Il Mimo” 2012
Medium rosy pink color. Enveloping nose of strawberry jam, watermelon juice, mixed sweet spices, wet stones, toasted hazelnut, dried flowers, creme caramel, and iodine. The body is quite big and unctuous while still retaining a crisp acidity and even a lightly tannic spine that runs through vivacious cherry, light blackberry and citrus fruit flavors, with notes of fresh herbs, chalk, and rose water underlying. Long pleasantly bitterish finish.