How Antinori plans to take on Provence with Puglian rosato
Italy wants to take on Provence with Puglian rosato, according to Vito Palumbo, CEO at Antinori’s Tormaresca estate, which produces more than one million bottles of pink wine from this southerly part of the Med.
Speaking last night in London at the 2022 vintage launch of Calafuria Negroamaro Rosato, the Puglian property’s leading label, Palumbo said that he believed that consumers of Provençal rosé would be ripe for trying the pink wines from Puglia.
One reason for this concerns Puglia’s longstanding experience making rosé, as the first region to produce pink wine in Italy, with a history stretching back to 1943, when the Five Roses brand was launched by Leone de Castris – a Puglian rosato still produced today, and indeed, served at this year’s Drinks Business Awards at the London Wine Fair.
But it also relates to the native grapes and climate of Puglia, which are ideal for making fruity and refreshing dry rosé, according to Palumbo, who stressed that Negroamaro from Salento was the source of Italy’s finest pink wines.
While the Salento area comprises the hot, sandy coastal plains of Puglia, he said that the nearby Med brings a refreshing saltiness to the rosés from this sub-region. He also stressed that Negroamaro was particularly well-suited to pink wine making due to the grape’s “crunchy, dark skin.”
The deeply-coloured berries with high natural acidity yield mouth-watering rosati that tend to have a darker shade of pink than the pale salmon appearance of Provençal rosés. However, Palumbo has been working on shortening the length of time the Negroamaro skins spend in contact with the grape’s juices in an attempt to leach less colour into the must – and therefore produce a pink wine that looks more like one from southern France.
Such efforts have been made by the head of the Antinori estate because he acknowledged that a pale salmon appearance is key for the commercial success of rosés in major markets for pink wines, notably the US and UK.
Also important is the branding, with Palumbo commenting that “rosé sits between a still wine and Champagne: it is connected with something celebratory, and it is about a lifestyle.”
As a result, he said that the Puglian brand had “invested in marketing”, running a series of special editions of the Calafuria rosato, bottled in magnums and featuring artistic labels.
For the 2022 release, Calafuria has chosen Italian singer, actress and model Elodie di Patrizi to decorate the bottle, who opted to put her own eyes on the glass, while creating a playlist for the rosato.
Although the Italian star is well-known in her home nation, Palumbo admitted that she does not have a high level of recognition outside Italy, and said that “Next year we will do something connected with the UK, maybe linked with poetry, something more alternative and Indie.”
The standard 75cl format of Calafuria Negroamaro Rosato retails for around £20 in the UK, pitting it price-wise against the most famous Provençal rosé in both the UK and US, Whispering Angel.
Tormaresca do produce a more expensive variant too, with the Furia di Calafuria Rosato, which sells for a bit more than £30 in the UK, which sees the Negroamaro grape blended with Syrah and Cabernet Franc for “more spiciness”, according to Palumbo.