Tell the truth.
How much pink-hued wine has found its way into your glass so far this summer?
If you answered, “Umm… a lot!” you’re hardly alone. For as much thoughtful consideration that the evolution of rosé and rosa wine has received recently, there are still few experiences for wine lovers that match a cool, crisp glass or two of this style of wine at the end of a hot summer’s day.
Rosé wine, and the newer nomenclature of Italian rosa wine, has won its way into our glasses and our wine loving hearts. But how well do we know it, really? Other than an enthusiastic appreciation for rosa wine, the time that we usually get to know pink-hued wines doesn’t usually match the time that we usually get to know more classically contemplative and studied wines like those from, say, Burgundy or Piemonte or Napa.
Which is why one of my favorite examples of the current style of Italian rosa wine — the 2020 Le Morette Chiaretto from the Lake Garda region — is the focus for today’s next installment of this summer’s series of articles that applies the storytelling technique of asking who, what, when, where and why a wine was made.
Here’s the narrative of what it took to bring that rosa wine to our tables. And to our back porches, front stoops, picnic blankets and pool side lounge chairs this summer.
Who: Azienda Agricola Valerio Zenato
Every winery will tell you that the best wines begin in the vineyard. In Zenato’s case, that’s true in the literal sense that they grew and propagated vines first, even before they started making their own wines. The business was founded in the 1960s as a vine nursery to produce root stocks for wineries around their home region of the Veneto in northern Italy. Today they grow and produce their own wine, in addition to continuing the company’s heritage (and its knowledge expansion) as a nursery.
What: Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara Grapes
Similar to the white grapes from Portugal that comprised the Quinta do Crasto wine in the first installment of this series, the three grapes that make up Le Morette may not ring as familiar a bell as the better-known pinot grigio or glera grapes that comprise the seemingly ubiquitous prosecco from the region. Yet their identity as indigenous, smaller-scale, autochthonous grapes is all the more reason for corvina, rondinella and molinara to be on your radar
Also, a fun side bar about the name: Le Morette refers to the mallard duck who mates during the summertime on Laghetto del Frassino, a local nature preserve.
Where: Lake Garda Region
Specifically, the winery is located in Benedetto di Lugana, south of Lake Garda. In addition to these particular grapes, the unique micro-climate also allows for olive and lemon groves. Zenato maintains a vineyard in Lazise where the three grapes for this Chiaretto are grown and mixed together.
When: 2020 Vintage, Four to Six Hours with Skin Contact
The grapes were harvested at the end of September, barely ten months ago. The grapes were fermented in stainless steel tanks for four to six hours with skin contact at a cool temperature (10 degrees Celsius), and then for another week without skin contact at a slightly warmer temperature (18 degrees Celsius). The wine was then aged for at least one month in bottle.
Why: Two Perspectives
The answer to “Why this wine?” from the winery’s perspective has to do with a belief that rosa wines, too, can be terroir-driven. The answer to “Why this wine?” for me is different, yet related. As I tasted through a selection of rosa wines, from the top to the bottom of Italy, this wine struck me as unique and fuller of character than its neighbors. That is, perhaps, due to the producer’s assertion of terroir for its rosa wines as much as its reds and whites.