To Rosè or Not Rosè

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Brutissimo / Ca Salina

A friend of mine calls on the shop landline:” I would like to buy that rosé prosecco we drank that day. Do you have it in your e-shop?”.

Prosecco rose’? That does not sound right… but if she says that we drank it… I think about it for a moment and then I light up.

My friend was with me at a party when by chance we were served a rosé wine, with bubbles. We liked it very much, no, we actually loved it! I chased the waiter and scribbled the name of the mysterious wine on a napkin, dropped it in my purse, and immediately forgot all about it.

But love often begins like this, by chance, with a stealthy message written on the back of a napkin, when it is least expected. How absolutely romantic.

So here I am on the phone with my friend, picking my memory, trying to recall that party, that wine’s name.  I remember it bore an odd-sounding name, I recall the action of scribbling it down on some unlikely paper support, but… what purse was I wearing?! Yes, somewhere, in some pocket, there had to be a napkin with that note.  Just like the tale of  the prince, the crystal slipper, and the rest of the story we all know, nothing. Gone. Who knows what was that lovely, delicate pink wine with a mysterious name?

A few months later, again by chance, while traveling through the hills of Valdobbiadene from one meeting to another, I decided to stop at the top of a hill where there is a spectacular view of the valley below. The winding roads in this area are narrow, with no emergency lane, so I had to pull over into the parking lot of a winemaker I never noticed before. Well, I said to myself, since I’m here, let’s go in.  As I had some time to kill before my next meeting, I introduced myself: Hello, I’m the owner of ProseccoShoppe.com, the prosecco e-commerce, blah blah blah.

A very kind gentleman greets me, leading me to the tasting area, and there it is.  The bottle, the pink bottle. The mesmerizing pink wine by the mysterious name from the missing napkin.

The owner of the winery, the very kind Mr. Bortolin, is a bit puzzled by me mumbling about my friend, that wine, a napkin, a party, and the randomness of passion.  Very kindly, and probably a bit worried, resolves the situation by offering me a glass of that pink delight. The name is Brutissimo, the producer Ca Salina. That’s it. I found it.

These are the moments when you say #lovemyjob.

No, it’s not a rosé prosecco. In fact, for now, there is no rosé prosecco (apart from the hyperspace of the scams on Italian food products around the world).

It’s an Incrocio Manzoni, the 13.0.25, the mix of Raboso Veronese and Moscato d’Amburgo. What fantastic names. Every time I come across an Incrocio Manzoni, my heart flutters. There is always something special about these wines: rare, difficult mixes of officially unmixable berries.

The Incrocios have such a fascinating story: Professor Luigi Manzoni (1888-1968), tucked away in the Conegliano’s hills, in the 1920s, while the rest of the world is going crazy, decides to create new vines, new plants (www.confraternitadeglincrociomanzoni.it: yes, this site really exists!!). His endeavor was to create new plants, more resilient, but also new and different from all existing vines. His experiments have brought us new, odd vines with names that remind us of Star Wars droids: 6.0.13, 13.0.25, 2-15… The numbers refer to the line, the position in the line, the vine area, and the grounds. Some are indeed happy accidents; growing these plants is not for the amateur, as these springs require exacting tending and expert winemaking skills.

The Brutissimo is an Incrocio Manzoni 13.0.25, pink due to the rosè winemaking process; it is an extra brut, with zero residual sugars, but oh, so flowery. The name is a cute pun: Bruttissimo in Italian means Very Ugly; Brut is the definition of wines with little residual sugars: drop one T from bruttissimo and you get Brutissimo, the Extremely Brut. However, there is nothing ugly about the Brutissimo, indeed it has a beautiful pink color and a delicious taste. It is an unusual wine that goes well with exotic cuisine.

The producer, Mr. Bortolin, is a very kind gentleman from another world. He always finds the time to chat about interesting wine trivia while opening a bottle; he is an inexhaustible source of information for anyone who stops by.

But above all, Mr. Bortolin lights up with a big smile when I tell him that I am a fan of his Brutissimo, that I consider it a great wine. He confirms to me that indeed it is an excellent wine, but he understands the bad press that has plagued rosè wines from Italy over the past. He believes that negative opinions and prejudice can only be overcome by relentlessly producing quality; You understand quality only through tasting. The Incrocio Manzoni is a little-known, obscure wine; it is indeed a best-kept secret, that once you stumble upon you’ll never forget.  That happened to me, mesmerized by this pink mysterious wine.

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