I've always harbored a secret fantasy of finding a rosé that is a perfect meld of white and red. Despite endless "rosé is the new black!" editorial, hopes have been dashed when blush wines reminiscent of wh*te zinf*ndel materialized. And that's nobody's idea of a good time.
That said, "sheer delight" sums up Bisson's Ciliegiolo (chee-lee-AYE-geò-lo), made from a rare, unique grape cultivated in northwestern Italy's Ligurian coastline. While Ciliegiolo is rumoured to be a distant relative of Sangiovese, little is reminiscent of its lineage.
This particular rosato is on the darker side of pink. Natasha and I enjoyed our crimson beauty with a summery ratatouille. Bisson recommends an optimal serving temperature of 61˚F (16˚C), but a brief spell in the refrigerator beforehand does the trick. On the palate, Ciliegiolo is ripe with intense fruit flavors of cherries and forest berries and a touch of tartness, complemented by an enduring, minerally finish. Aged entirely in stainless steel, this fermentation process imparts a fresh and lively acidity.
In addition to tasting amazing, this wine is also a feat of acrobatics - which lends even more to its charm. Artisinal winemaker Pierluigi Lugano has done his part to lovingly preserve increasingly rare, indigenous varietals such as Ciliegiolo. Cultivation is truly a labor of love and done by hand, as it is one of the world's most absurdly impossible grape-growing regions. Gravity-defying gravely hills give way to steep slopes high above the Mediterranean below, where harvesting machinery is simply out of the question.
I'm very curious to try a Prosecco - also from Bisson - that I just picked up, which should make for a perfect, summery roof deck aperitivo. Stay tuned...
Wine: 2006 Enoteca Bisson Ciliegiolo, Golfo Del Tiguellio, Liguria, Italy
Varietal: 100% Ciliegiolo
Recommended Pairings: Summery vegetable dishes scented with fresh herbs such as thyme, marjoram, basil; grilled mahi-mahi, shellfish and delicate cheeses