The picturesque castle and river of Rosesse de Dolceacqua

So, what is Rossese?  The ONE red wine to drink this summer is Rossese di Dolceacqua (Rose-essay de Dole-chey-acqua), or just Rossese.  It’s my new favorite, hands down.

Stacie’s favorite Rossese di Dolceacqua

This grape makes a vibrant red wine from a small town near Liguria in the Italian Riviera.  Liguria isn’t far across the border from southern France.  Driving there, we travel along the picturesque road from Nice, skirting through Monaco and Menton.  Arriving in the township of Rossese de Dolceacqua, you’ll discover the tiniest and the most challenging risk-to-reward area to grow and harvest grapes.  The town is the name of both the grape and the appellation.

View of the township and castle of Rossese di Dolceacqua

Move the calendar pages back a couple of centuries to the 19th and you’d find a thriving region with specific vineyard classifications.  Today there are only 2000 people and 200 acres of tenacious vines, hanging on with all their might to craggy, rocky mountains scaling 2000′ altitude.  This is not for the faint of heart, as planting and harvesting are done by hand.  No machines can help harvest or farm this area. For all that effort, only about 25,000 cases of Rossese di Dolceacqua are produced annually.

All planting and harvesting are done by hand in this region.

Winegrowing around Dolceacqua is at the “micro” level, as the vineyards are inaccessible to tractors and require intense hand work. Today about 30 winemakers produce only 25,000 cases of Rossese di Dolceacqua, though in recent years exports have bloomed. In the United States, prices range from under $25 for most entry-level versions up to $30 – $50 for the top tier.

What to expect when you put your nose into the glass?  Aromas of bittersweet red fruits, the saltiness of the sea and black pepper and spices- here’s where you see the resemblance to Pinot Noir, but prettier.

What to expect in your mouth? It’s fruity, medium-bodied, slightly spicy and takes a bit of a chill. s So easy to drink and pairs with all styles of summer cooking, especially grills.

The downside?  The bottle annoyingly disappears quickly once poured!


The wine is just beginning to be discovered, so you might have to do a little digging to find this wine in shops, but it is easily delivered to your door via several online wine merchants.

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Contributor:  Stacie Hunt, Certified Silver Pin Sommelier/AIS; Vice President National Association of Wine Retailers; International Wine Judge, Author, Spokesperson, and Educator.  Stacie is a producer/spokesperson and winner of several national and international broadcasting awards.

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