Wine Time: Solidio Rosato IGT 2015, Tuscany

Cost: $13-$15

 

What: America’s love affair with rosé seems never ending. Sales have been growing sharply since 2010 and have exploded in the past two years.

Imports from the Provence region of France, widely considered ground zero for quality rosé, are soaring. They jumped 58 percent in 2015 and even more last year. Since 2001, imports from Provence have grown by 4,852 percent.

And that’s just from one region. We are buying rosé from all over the world, made in many different styles, from dry and fruit forward to sweet and sparkling. It’s difficult to figure out what’s driving the pink bus, but there is no question rosé has been the hottest wine trend for at least a couple of years.

That is good news for us wine drinkers who love rosé because we can find them everywhere now. Winemakers who never thought about making a rosé are rushing to market with their version. The wines are being produced in regions never known for rosé, such as Tuscany.

This Solidio Rosato IGT 2015 is the first effort for the folks at Aia Vecchia, and it’s a crowd pleaser. It’s a brilliant light onionskin or coral in the glass, with intense aromas of flowers, peaches and cherries.

On the palate there is plenty of fruit with a balancing fresh acidity. The fruit continues through the long and pleasant finish. Everything is in balance.

The wine is 90 percent sangiovese and 10 percent merlot. The wine is classified IGT instead of the more prestigious DOC because the winemakers don’t follow the rules for Tuscan wine. Thank goodness they don’t follow the rules because this dry rosé is stunning in taste and value.

The grapes are hand picked in vineyards in Magliano and Orbetello in Maremma. After fermentation the wine is aged in stainless steel tanks for four months, followed by two months of bottle aging.

This is a smooth-drinking wine for all occasions. It will be just as appropriate at a fancy dinner as at a picnic at the lake. Serve it well chilled.

Winery: The Pellegrini family had been growing grapes in Tuscany for several generations when they decided in 1996 to create their own wines from the winery they named Aia Vecchia. It is located between Bolgheri and Castagneto Carducci.

This was about the time Super Tuscan wines were heating up. To supplement their existing vineyards in the Bolgheri DOC they bought additional land in the area and planted vines. They now have 104 acres.

Their goal was to create small lot, high-quality Super Tuscan blends, which they did with the help of Hungarian winemaker Tibor Gal. Their vineyards are in Bolgheri and Maremma.

Bolgheri was starting to make noteworthy wines with French varietals then, thanks to a combination of microclimate, terrain and elevation. The wines created there rival the great wines of France.

Aia Vecchia bought their grapevines directly from Bordeaux to get the best possible vines.

The first vintage of their flagship wine Lagone came in 1998. It is a stunning blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc that sells for about $15. Lagone is one of the great values from Bolgheri. It has captured the attention of wine lovers around the world.

Attention to detail is important at Aia Vecchia, where they hand pick grapes and ferment and age each varietal in a blend separately to maintain the individual flavors.

They produce the Sor Ugo blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot. They also produce two wines made from classic Italian varietals, a Vermentino and a Morellino di Scansano (sangiovese).

Aia Vecchia produces about 250,000 bottles per year, with about half going to the American market.

Goes With: We paired this beautiful wine with chicken stew and dumplings. It was a match made in heaven, even though it might not be a traditional pairing.

A good rosé is perfect with roast chicken or grilled chicken, but the rich, savory stew brought out the fruit characteristics of this wine. The fresh acidity of the wine kept it from being buried by the tasty flavors of the chicken. I had not tried a rosé with this dish before, but it was a much better pairing than many of the white wines I have tried.

This was another favorite meal of mine when I was growing up. The stew part is like southern chicken and dumplings, but the dumplings are totally different.

The dumplings are made the way my grandparents and great-grandparents made them in Czechoslovakia before they moved to America. To make the dough for the dumplings boil potatoes and rice them. Add flour and eggs to the potatoes and knead the dough until it’s elastic.

Then you take a hunk of dough and roll it in the palm of your hand until you have a ball. Then roll the ball of dough out until it’s shaped like a log. Drop the dumplings in boiling water, cover the pot and cook for about 20 minutes, being careful not to overcook the dumplings. Turn the heat down so the water doesn’t boil over.

Let the dumplings cool for at least 30 minutes before eating them. This allows them to get firm. Then you slice each dumpling and put the amount you want in your bowl with the chicken stew.

These are the same dumplings I make for pork loin, dumplings and sauerkraut or oxtail stew.

I watched my mother and my grandmother make these dumplings dozens of times before I ever tried to make them. It takes awhile to get a feel for how to make the dough. Rolling a piece of dough in your hands to form a ball is another tricky thing. You put one palm on top of the other, parallel to the table and move them in a circular fashion, using your thumbs to shape up the dough into a ball.

Solidio Rosato also would work as an aperitif with cold cuts, or with many kinds of seafood, white meats such as chicken and turkey and with fresh cheeses. It has such a pleasant taste it also is a good wine to sip by itself.

wine events

  • Wine tasting: 5-7 p.m. Friday, May 5, Kroger, 435 Lewiston Road, Grovetown; new wines weekly; free; (706) 619-3420
  • Wine and beer tasting: 5-7 p.m. Friday, May 5, 5-7 p.m. Saturday, May 6, Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; (706) 922-9463
  • Wine tasting: 5-8 p.m. Friday, May 5, Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; three whites, three reds and cheeses; $5; (803) 279-9522

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