You gotta love an Italian’s sense of historical perspective. In the case of Torre Rosazza (whose wares I sampled during a virtual media tasting earlier this year), they’re named after the “Tower of Roses” (Palazzo De Marchi, near Oleis di Manzano), which was originally a fortress, but was converted to a dwelling… in 1550. So it hasn’t really been a tower proper for only about 475 years…!
For the tasting, we were joined by Giovanni Casati, the Head Oenologist of Le Tenute del Leone Alato (the group that owns Torre Rosazza along with five other wineries in six different territories, covering over 700 hectares of vines with 40 grape varieties planted across Piedmont, Veneto, Tuscany, Puglia, Sardinia, and… Champagne in France, because why the hell not, right?). Casati views the role of his team “to be the custodians, the interpreters of the experience [of translating wine from terroir].”
That terroir, in the case of Torre Rosazza, is heavy on the Ponca soils (a mix of marl and sandstone, about which you can learn more by checking out my previous coverage of the region). Their grapes are hand-harvested from amphitheater-shaped, hillside plantings (known as “ronchi”), and crushed utilizing KRYOS (low-temperature, CO2-saturated) to limit oxygen exposure and preserve organoleptic and structural components in the white grapes.
My predilection towards the wines of Italy’s north-eastern corridor is not exactly a deeply held secret, so you will likely not at all be surprised that I found several things to like in Torre Rosazza’s lineup…
Speaking of surprises, this Blanc de Noir style bubbly (8 g/l RS, disgorged June 2021) was a nice one. From terraced Ronchi vineyards (located at the top of their hills), it’s 100% Schioppettino, and Casati thinks it’s the only classic method bubbly made from this grape variety in the area (if not anywhere). It spends a full 36 months on the lees, which he views as essential for managing the tannins (and he recommends aging it another year in the bottle, though it’s delicious now). Hints of black cherries, dried rose petal, baked red apples, and a nice mouthfeel, with a yeasty roundness, some structural grip, apple-like freshness, brioche, orange peel, and black cherry skin. Then, it’s all wrapped up by an exceptionally long finish. Rare and sexy stuff here.
From a hot and dry vintage, this white is aged on the lees for six months. Very floral, with rich citrus (and candied citrus peel), not unlike something from Alsace. The perfumed, heady nose leads into a structured palate that has ripe citrus presence and acidic energy. Really nice texture, and lovely hints of tropical fruit flavors abound.
Aged six months in steel and another two months in bottle, this PG is similar to its 2022 cousin but manifests as more citric and less floral overall on the nose. This vintage is a bit more transparent in its mouthfeel, direct and to-the-point about its fresh apple and citrus flavors. You’ll find more nuttiness, and general development (though still has some time ahead of it).
Sourced from terraced vineyards, the vines are a massal selection from their prized `78 vineyard plantings, and it spends nine months aging in barrels. Mandarin, grilled citrus, pears, saffron, white flowers, and wet stone kick things off aromatically. In the mouth, this is fascinating in its minerality and freshness, balancing the richness of Friulano’s ripe citrus fruitiness. It’s here to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and it’s all out of you-know-what…
Whoa… this stainless steel aged white offers up fantastic herbal hints, great jasmine action, and delicious flavors of rich citrus, ripe green pear, and bruised green apple. Developed fruit along with bitter almond and minerality keep things complex, and it’s absolutely fresh, full, and fantastic for its age.
As Casati explained during our tasting, Torre Rosazza’s Ribolla vines benefit from good ventilation thanks to the “Bora” and the winds coming from the Adriatic Sea, which helps keep the fruit healthy and clean. Clean is certainly the operative word when it comes to this stainless steel aged Ribolla—Blood orange, salinity, melon, and blossom… it’s all going on here with great purity, length, and incredible consistency between the palate and the nose. This is an absolutely crystal-clean presentation for RG fans.
This is Torre Rosazza’s new-ish blend of Friulano, Pinot Bianco, Sauvignon, and Ribolla Gialla, with the Friulano, Pinot Bianco, and Ribolla coming from the highest terraces facing south-west, while the Sauvignon hails from the vineyards on the plain (which are on more fertile soils). Three months on the lees, with weekly battonage, followed by three months in the bottle. It’s all garden action to start: jasmine, honeysuckle, orange blossom, sage and other fresh herbs. The pear, white peach, and just-ripe apricot all comes later after a few mins int he glass. In the mouth, it’s the opposite; you get the richness of ripe stone fruit, apples, pears, and citrus, with the minty herbal and floral hints coming in later. Fresh as a daisy, long, with toast, bruised apple fruit, and hints of almond and tropical fruit coming in on a very, very long finish. This is a minor masterclass in blending. “It’s like a game to understand the different components from the different varieties,” Casati noted, and it’s a game that Torre Rosazza seems to have won.
Picolit vineyards, cultivated by Torre Rosazza since 1978, are scattered all across the estate, in areas with south and west exposure. This rendition spends 24 months in French oak tonneaux, and was harvested in two separate batches, with a third of the grapes usually left to develop botrytis. Lovely jasmine floral notes kick the nose off here. Then honey and peach custard come into play. The mouth is all ripe peach preserves, with the noticeable sweetness tempered by tons of acidity and nice structure. Concentrated, but not heavy. Candied citrus and lemon drop are all over the excellent, lengthy finish.