Thanksgiving Wines: Everything Is Coming Up Roses

Food & Drink

As roses are more available from a diversity of regions, they transcend and expand beyond the traditional summer quaff. Showing their pride of place in terroir and grapes, rosés across the globe are no longer just summer flings at the seaside, but wines that can keep up with consumers all year ‘round.

“We are trying to de-season rosé,” says Irene Graziotto of Studio Cru in northern Italy, an agency that counts the Chiaretto di Bardolino rosé appellation near Lake Garda among its clients.

Farther south, the wines of Greece offer shades of pink that go with nearly anything on the table, and thanks to Greece’s diverse terroirs, offer styles from light to deeply structured.

“Rosé of indigenous varieties such as Xinomavro, Agiorgitiko, Moscofilero and Limniona can be found throughout the north, the south, Attica and the islands, and in such diverse styles,” says Lisa Stavropoulos, owner of Greek Grape Wine Tours. She says drinking pink is increasingly on the itinerary for the twice-yearly tours she ran before the pandemic.

But as trendy as it is, rosé is no stranger to Greece, says Ted Diamantis of Chicago-based Diamond Wine Importers.

“It has been present in Greek wine production for as long as I can remember,” he says. “In the village days, local winemakers would make field blends and the wines would have a copper or rusty color. Today’s Greek rosés are obviously much cleaner and precise.”

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They are also gastronomic and should be consider “all-season rosé, well suited for food pairings throughout the year,” says Yannis Tsapos, owner of Dionysus Imports, based in Manassas, Va. He said two things give Greek rosés the advantage for year-round suitability: extended skin contact, which gives the wines “deeper color and fuller taste,” and the indigenous grapes that are naturally low in tannins.

“This allows winemakers to extract full color while not worrying about getting bitter tannins in the glass,” he said, resulting in “fuller-body rosés, strong enough to go well with roast meats, red meats, lamb chops.” And they can hold their own against the complexity textures and flavors of the Thanksgiving table.

Whether you have to please grandma, impress your signifcant other’s parents or placate your hipster kid home from Oberlin, these will do their duty.

* = taster’s choice!

GREECE

* Aivalis winery “Aibarin” rose 2018, Korinthia IGP (Nemea). Made from 100% Agiorgitiko, almost cranberry in color, exotic with blood orange, grapefruit and wild tangerine, tart cranberry and sour cherry, spice and wild botanics.

Alpha Estate Single Vineyard “Hedgehog” 2019, Amyndeon PGI (Greek Macedonia). From a modern and sophisticated producer, made from 100% Xinomavro grapes. Dry, strawberry driven with weighty structure. The embossed bottle with a cool latitude map on the back label makes a great presentation.

Bosinakis “Ieria” 2019, Mantinia. Made from the pink-skinned aromatic (think rose petals!) Moscofilero, it’s an easy-going wine driven by strawberry and white peach with hints of marzipan, and elevated by crisp acidity and a citrus peel finish.

* Kir-Yanni “Akakies” PGI 2019, Xinomavro, Madedonia PGI. Bright, juice cherry flavor. Dry, with nice mineral snap; it’s fun alone as an aperitif but the acidity will stand up to gooey sides dishes (candied yams, I’m talking to you!)

* La Tour de Melas Idylle d’Achinos 2019. A blend of 40% Agiorgitiko and 20% of each Syrah and Grenache, this is a very light and bracing pink wine. Herbal aromatics are carried through on the palate with dried strawberries and pronounced anise, saline inflected, with a scrubby wildness.

* Moraitis “Meltemi” 2019, Cyclades PGI. Named for Greece’s northern winds, this dry rose is fruity and aromatic. Made of a blend of ancient grapes (80% Monemvasia, a white grape, and 20% Mandilaria, a black grape), this is copper-penny in color.  Its earthy notes are lifted by a bright streak of blood orange and citric. Very gastronomic: treat like a red wine

Mylonas Malagousia – Mandilaria Dry Rosé PGI Attika PGI 2019. Orange-y hued, and driven by ripe yellow fruit with peachy and floral tones (thanks to 80% Malagousia)—good for lovers of Viognier and a good match with turkey. Fleshy and juicy on the sweet/ripe side ripe, but not flabby.

Domaine Skouras “Pelpo” Rosé 2018. An equal blend of Agiorgitiko, Syrah and Mavrofilero, aging respectively in Acacia barrels, stainless steel and egg shaped amphora. Medium-pink hued, the wine shows red fruits and earth notes lifted by notes of tangerine and pink grapefruit.

ITALY: CHIARETTO DI BARDOLINO DOC

Formally named Chiaretto di Bardolino, but familiarly shortened to “Chiaretto,” this pale, dry style of rosé is produced along the shores of Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake, which lies between the Veneto and Lombardy. Rosés made here (the region also produces light reds) are serious competitors to Provence—light, dry, crisp with a saline-inflected character. Like Provence, Chiaretto is produced from three regional grapes Corvina Rondinella and Molinara.

Lighter in style than the Greek rosés, these wines go from aperitif to table and provide a crisp counterpart to the traditionally heavy trimmings on the table.

* Azienda Agricola Cavalchina 2019 (Franco and Luciano Piona). Light pink, slightly vegetal nose, saline, bright, tart, dark berries/cranberries and sour cherry fruit, a little meaty/bacon; creamy aspect on palate, anise finish. Good acid, and lively saline streak that screams “I AM ON A LAKE!”

Gorgo Chiaretto 2019. Certified biological, this dry wine is a fruit bowl of small red berries, watermelon, tangerine and peach. Nice herbal finish.

Guerrieri-Rizzard “Keya” Chiaretto Classico 2019. The 13% alcohol gives this rose a little weight, but doesn’t get in the way of its zingy acid lacing through the deep-summer fruits.

Monte del Fra, Azienda Agricola 2019, Chiaretto. The very pale pink color belies a deeper fruit profile of sour cherry, florals, herbs and pronounced anise. A tinge of pink grapefruit gives this a fun lift.

Valerio Zenato, “Le Morette” Chiaretto Classico 2019. Fresh floral, dried strawberry, a more delicate, neutral offering that will play well with everything on the table.

* Villabella Chiaretto Classico 2019. Light copper pink, zingy tangerine, apricot, raspberry, bright mandarin, exotic spice, fresh saline. Corvina and Rondinella grapes

ITALY: OTHER

Between the Apennine mountains and the Adriatic Sea is Abruzzo, historically a region producing simple, rustic wines. But no more. The region is morphing into an area of respectable, conscientious winemaking with a hyper-local focus. The Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC, created in 2010, produces lighter-styled bright reds from and roses from Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes (cerasuolo is Italian for “cherry”).

* Cantina Tollo “Valle d’Oro 2019,” Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOP. Medium- to dark-pink hued and aromatic, this is a red-fruited wine—tart, earthy and slightly saline with an almond, crisp and lean, terrific with cranberry sauce.

Cantina Tollo “Hedos” 2019 Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOP. Deep strawberry pink and a very biological aroma like you’re standing in a winery. A little unfocused, but aged cheeses such as Tarentaise or Comte give it some definition

Feudo Antico “Terre di Chieti” IGP Abruzzo 2019. Certified organic, light rust in color, this could be a “baby orange” wine. Serve to your hipster nieces/nephews who are home from Oberlin college.

Italy: Sicily

Donnafugata, Dolce & Gabbana “Rosa” Sicily, 2019. North meets south in this new collaboration from the trendy Sicilian boutique winery and the luxury fashion label. Nice citric lilt with acidity, baby-fresh strawberries, and blood orange tinge.

OTHER EUROPEAN RUNNERS UP

I know, not really a category, but too good not to include! The Provencal for the crowd pleaser and the Hungarian for the adventurous.

Bieler Pere et Fils 2019, Bandol AOC. Darker pink, saline and savory with a high-toned tanginess. Darker hued than other Provencal wines, this one is a little spicy and elevated by blood orange, with tropical notes of guava, pink grapefruit, papaya—a bipartisan pleaser.

* Pannonhalmi Apátsági Pinceszet “Tricollis” Rosé, 2019. Pannonhalmi Hungary. For the “curious wine drinker” says importer Harmon Skurnik, this dry rose, a blend of 50% Merlot, 30% Pinot Noir and 20% Cabernet Franc, is produced at a 10th-century Benedictine monastery in northwest Hungary. An exotic mix of cherry and blood orange raspberry and strawberry and some Cab Franc spice.

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