Kevin Pilley traces the history of Italian rosé wines which, he says, are undeservedly snubbed
Five Roses is a famous Italian wine that should be more famous. It was Italy’s first ever rosé and the first Italian wine to be bottled in Italy and sold in the US. It was first sold to US troops fighting in Puglia.
Vines were planted in Salice as well as Guargnano, Veglie, Novoli and San Pancrazio in the late 17th century by a certain Duke Oronzo. From the start of the 19th century, the winery was exporting to the US.
In 1943, Piero and Lisetta Leone de Castris’s wine was tasted by US General Charles Poletti, supply officer of the Allied Forces. It was recommended to soldiers.
The name ‘Five Roses’ derives from a contrada, so-called because for several generations each de Castris had five children.
The winery, near Lecce, now grows Verdeca, Moscato, Aleatico and Primitivo grapes, producing 2.5 million bottles of red, white and rosé DOC wines (Salice Salentino, Locorotondo, Copertino, Primitivo di Manduria) every year.
It has a hotel and restaurant (Villa Donna Lisa) as well as a wine bar, The Five Roses Club 1943, dedicated to the legendary first rosé wine to be bottled in Italy and made from 90 per cent Negroamaro and 10 per cent Malvasia Nera.
More and more are joining the Rosautoctono movement and standing up for Italian rosato. Italian rosé wines are just not ‘one night wines’.
Over 30 per cent of all wine drunk in France by the French is rosé. But the…
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