“Today, it’s all come full circle as winemakers want to get on the orange wine bus. But technically speaking, in my view, ramato is a rosé wine made from a (lightly colored) red grape.” Jeremy Parzen, Do Bianchi
What do you call a wine that ranges in color from light rosy-salmon to deep copper-amber?
Rosé comes to mind when contemplating the hue. Yet hesitation surfaces… you haven’t seen one quite like this. Possibly an orange wine?
Then you sniff and sip. Whoa, a multitude of aromas and layered flavors. Could this be ramato?!?
The Italian Food, Wine, Travel group explores ramato this month, a wine style spanning generations in the northeastern Italy region called Fruili-Venezia Giulia. Led by Camilla Mann from Culinary Adventures with Camilla, find her invitation and preview information about the topic here and articles from the group below.
Pinot Grigio is Not a White Grape
The first thing to know about Pinot Grigio, the grape used to make ramato is this- it doesn’t have white skin. A light reddish-grey, purple-hued grape, it is a variant-clone of Pinot Noir with origins in both Germany (Baden-Württemberg) and Burgundy. It arrived in Northern Italy (Valle d’Aosta and Piemonte) at the beginning of the nineteenth century, then made it to other parts of Italy and the world. (Source)
Is Ramato Really Different From Rosé/Rosato and Orange (aka Amber) Wines?
Well yes and no. Orange wines are made from white grapes, rosé from red grapes and ramato only from Pinot Grigio.
All three are made by some degree of skin contact with the juice. Partially or completely crushed grapes (skins, seeds and sometimes stems), along with their juice, macerate (soak) together. The difference starts here; some macerate just a few to several hours (common for rosé), while others from several days to several months (common for orange wine, aka skin contact wine). Ramato falls in between the two, kind of. (Find out more about orange wine from Martin at Enofylz Wine Blog.)
With regard to this maceration technique, it is interesting to note that until the 1950s, doing so was common place. Then new technologies pushed the maceration process aside and only a few Italian producers continued to process their Pinot Grigio via the traditional maceration method.
Today, the phrase ‘what is old is new again’ very much applies to ramato, and especially orange wines. Both have seen a resurgence, and most hip restaurants and wine stores will have at least one available.
Meanwhile, wanting to dig deeper into the entire topic and get his thoughts on ramato, I reached out to Italian Wine Guru Jeremy Parzen.
“Before the early orange wine craze of the late 2000s, a few Friulian growers were already marketing their wines as “ramato.” As interest in macerated whites continued to grow, it was only natural that merchants in the U.S. would begin to include ramato in their orange bins.
Until the Terlato and Marzotto families brought Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio to the U.S. in the late 1980s, Italian Pinot Grigio was virtually unknown here.
Terlato (then known as Paterno) changed all that with the now ubiquitous clear glass bottle with its straw yellow colored wine and elegant label. They had wagered that Americans would go for a new white wine from Italy. But remember that at that time, white Zinfandel was extremely popular in the U.S. So a rosé Pinot Grigio would have had to compete with the behemoth pink wine. Pinot Grigio was vinified off its skins and would forever be a white wine in the minds of American wine lovers.” Jeremy Parzen, Do Bianchi
Traditional to Modern Styles
Here are two ramato wines we tasted. One is made in the more traditional method, while the other utilizes a modern approach to the traditional method.
A deep, coppery-orange color in my glass with appealing aroma layers: bruised apple, peach, walnut, oat hay, acacia flower and orange vanilla cream (like a Dreamsicle). Sipping the wine is comparably appealing. Think about a bowl of bright and juicy red currants- you sprinkle them with nuts, dried chamomile and some of that orange vanilla cream. As it lingers, you feel low tannins and the slightly salty (sweat you licked from your lip). Incredibly alive, intensely interesting, medium-bodied wine.
Vinification: Grapes macerated on skins for just under a month, followed by indigenous yeast fermentation in casks. Aged 23-months in large Slovenian oak barrels. Bottled unfiltered. Price: $36.99 / 26.50€ ABV: 14%.
About Ronco Severo
Stefano Novello inherited the Ronco Severo winery from his father in 1998. Located in the Colli Orientali (eastern hills) sub-zone of the northern Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, he is non-certified organic, and utilizes biodynamic principles. He prefers balancing on the back of a chair versus sitting it in, as evidenced in this label above.
5,000 bottles of this 100% Pinot Grigio are produced annually. Grapes are picked early to maintain a higher level of acidity.
It looks like someone plucked an orangy-pale copper strand from a Tuscan sunset. The alluring aromas conjure visions of driving through a quince and apricot orchard on a hot summer day, some of each are dried in the dusty earth along with a few almonds from a neighboring tree.
In the mouth, it is dry and flinty with a brush of mixed citrus and tropical fruit; medium+ acidity, a low level of tannins, and a round and immaculately balanced body.
This wine shows elegance and persistence, with a streak of bright acid on the palate. It lingers, softening to a creamy feel, and kept me returning for more sips, especially after opened one day. It pairs fantastically with Vietnamese Bo Bun.
Vinification: 12-hour skin maceration followed by temperature controlled fermentation (60°F) in stainless tanks. Four-months aging in the same, on lees. Price: $10 ABV: 13%
About Conte Aldobrando
Located not far from Pisa in La Rotta, the winery makes six wines and roughly 50,000 bottles each year. In addition to grapes, they cultivate a large variety of vegetables sustainably.
A quick note on drinking ramato – because these wines exhibit lower levels of tannin, drinking them cellar or room temperature is best. And those tannins make them a match for diverse styles of cuisines and dishes, or summer BBQ foods.
In concluding, I circle back to my initial question, what is ramato? It really depends on the winemaker’s vision and the style of ramato she/he chooses to make. Ultimately, the distinguishing feature is simple- it is a product of historical winemaking in Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
Join the Conversation!
If you want to know more about ramato wine, here are two ways: follow our Twitter chat Saturday, July 3 at 8am PT / 17:00 CET or read more about it from my fellow bloggers and wine writers. You are sure to find several recipes to pair with this wine!
- Another BIPOC Celebrity Wine that I’m anxious to share with you by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Bibimbap and Pinot Gris Ramato, Sort Of by The Quirky Cork
- Fregola Sarda Con Gamberi + a Vertical Tasting of the 2017 and 2019 Attems Ramato Pinot Grigio by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Making Pinot Grigio Ramato Style: The Dal Cero Family of Corte Giocobbe by Joy of Wine
- Craving Copper: Old World vs. New World Ramato Wines & Pairings by Somm’s Table
- Ramato, A Fresh Look at This Italian Wine by Savor the Harvest
- Ramato: Taking Rosè to the Next Level by Vino Travels
- Ramato, the copper colored “orange” wine of Italy — and Oregon! by Wine Predator
- Santa Margherita: My Favorite Pinot Grigio by Our Good Life
- This Summer Drink Pink With Pinot Grigio by The Wine Chef
- Ronco Severo / Omni Wines / Beaune Imports
- Conte Aldobrando Degli Azzoni Avogadro / Due Fratelli Imports /
- Jeremy Parzen Do Bianchi
- What is the True Color of Pinot Grigio