The prize-giving of the third National Italian Rosé Competition took place in the magnificent setting of Otranto Castle in the far south of Puglia on Saturday, 31 May.
This Puglian-inspired yearly event, organized by Sergio Maglio, was thirstily witnessed by a packed room of assorted Italian journalists and writers and a smattering of other European ones, with me and Antonio Tomassini forming the English contingent.
The competition was organized by Regione Puglia and other more Italian institutions to promote rosés from Italy in general, and, despite a rather relaxed start, it was a well-managed, interesting, and even entertaining event.
Highlights of the keynote European speakers included Federico Castellucci, former director general of the Organization Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin (OIV), who managed, through his enthusiasm for Italian wine, to bring a page of ominously dry-looking statistics to life and make it interesting, motivational even, highlighting Italy’s success with rosé at export.
Castellucci encouraged Italians to practice what they preach, appreciate that rosé is an excellent wine, and try drinking it themselves.
Gilles Masson from the ‘Centre de Recherche et d’Experimentation sur le Vin Rosé’ highlighted from their research that dry, lighter-coloured styles are in vogue at the moment, but that this may change at any time in this fast-moving market.
Both Fabrizio Nardoni, agricultural counsellor for the Puglia Region, and Senatore Dario Stefano enthused energetically about the quality of the product, and the potential for increased export of Puglian and Italian rosé.
Puglia showed well in the results; a cynic might suggest that this had something to do with the fact that Regione Puglia was the main organizer.
However, in fairness, the region does produce 40% of all of Italy’s rosés, which makes it less surprising that five of the 18 prizes went to Puglian wines.
The following day was spent on a whirlwind tour of the Salento peninsula our way back to Bari, guided by Antonella Millarte, an inexhaustible font of knowledge on Puglia. We made brief stops at three of the award-winning producers.
At Leone de Castris we had a delightfully light and floral Aleatico rosé called Aleikos. At the ubiquitous Due Palme we re-tasted the fragrant Melarosa and serious Salice Salentino ‘Selvarossa’, and at Cantine Cardone we met the very energetic Marianna Cardone and Giuseppe Palumbo from Antinori’s estate Tormaresca, further to the north of Puglia, who consults at this estate.
Their award winner ‘Provit’ is a Pinot Noir sparkling rosé, crisp and red-fruited. They also make Bordeaux blend wines, stylish, but not particularly Puglian, and more characterful wines from indigenous varieties.
The presentations before the prize-giving were presented with passion and enthusiasm for the potential of Puglian wine in export.
The UK has a rather limited understanding of these wines, largely dominated by inexpensive Primitivo di Puglia; it’s time to bring the show to the UK to show them the real stuff!