Italy’s Rosé from a White Grape: Valentino Butussi’s Pinot Grigio Ramato

Abbazia di Rosazzo

The Valentino Butussi vineyard and winery are located in one of the most charming parts of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the small town called Corno di Rosazzo.  Overlooking (see photo) the vineyards of Corno di Rosazzo is the Abbey of Rosazzo, which dates back to the 10th century.  We visited Corno di Rosazzo and the Abbey while preparing our report on The Wines of Friuli: Collio’s Special Whites.  Unfortunately we did not have time to visit the Valentino Butussi winery.  However, Butussi recently sent us three ramato wines as part of our annual rosé review, so we now have the opportunity to write about them and, hopefully, we will do a more extensive portfolio review in the future.  [We did review the Butussi Pignolo in an earlier article on Italian wine.] Butussi has a stellar reputation in Italy, so it’s especially disappointing that no US importer brings in their wines.

Botti at Butussi

While Pinot Grigio is known as a white wine grape, in fact its skin is light purple in color.  If one leaves the juice in contact with the skins, the juice picks up a light pink-copper color called ramato (copper-like in Italian).  After this initial skin contact, Pinot Grigio ramato wines are made like white wines. The grapes are pressed, fermented in stainless steel, and aged either in stainless or large Italian oak casks called botti.  While the wines are similar in character to modern fresh, crisp rosés, they are also historic. In the time of the Serenissima Republica di Venezia, Pinot Grigio wine was described as being “ramato”.

Founded in the late 19th century, the Valentino Butussi estate was transformed in the 1970s by Angelo Butussi, son of Valentino, who began bottling wines with the family name. Today a new generation of the winemaking family manages the estate, and Filippo Butussi makes the wine.

The Wines

Butussi 2021 Pinot Grigio Ramato Friuli Colli Orientali (Corno di Rosazzo) 90  Very pale pink. Showing scents of the skins of fresh red cherries, raspberries, and a floral, rose petal like accent. Flavors like the bouquet with bright, fresh red fruit, brisk acidity and firm phenolic backbone. Finishes dry with good grip. Made from organically certified grapes grown in Corno di Rosazzo. 14% alc.

Butussi 2020 Madonna D’Aiuto Pinot Grigio Ramato Friuli Colli Orientali (Corno di Rosazzo) 91 The 2020 is made the same as the 2019 Madonna D’Aiuto, and it shares some of the same characteristics. But the 2020 is fresher with brighter acidity yet with a still smooth mouth feel. There’s both fresh and dried berry/cherry fruit on the palate and a crisp finish. Compared to the 2019, the 2020 is more of what people expect from a rosé. Sourced from a tiny vineyard less than one hectare in size and matured in 700L oak botti for 8-10 months followed by one year in bottle before release. 13% alc.

Butussi 2019 Madonna D’Aiuto Pinot Grigio Ramato Friuli Colli Orientali (Corno di Rosazzo) 90 The Madonna D’Aiuto is very different in style from the regular Butussi Ramato. It’s light bronze-tinged red in color (see photo) with scents and flavors of ripe plum and cherry accented by hints of earthy herbs. It has a creamy texture and medium acidity with nice grippiness on the back palate. A serious, gastronomic wine that’s more similar to a light red than a Provence style rosé. Matured in traditional 700L oak botti for 8-10 months followed by 12 months in bottle. 13% alc.
 

 

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