The Trasimeno Rosato Festival enjoyed a third edition during the summer of 2022, a event that brought together the local wineries, restaurants, and bars in the picturesque and historic town of Castiglione del Lago. This village is on the shore of Lake Trasimeno (Lago di Trasimeno in Italian), which is at the heart of the wine producing denomination, Trasimeno DOC. The festival is an indicator of a trend that local producers are proud of — the increase in rosato wine from their region. Rosato, if the term is unfamiliar, is Italian rosé, a translation of a common word that to most people means pink wine, made from a light amount of skin contact with red-skinned grapes.
Umbria’s Lake Trasimeno is the country’s fourth largest lake. While it’s located in the bustling province of Perugia, and near the border with Tuscany, this lake is less well known to international tourists than super stars such Lake Como or Lake Garda, two other zones that produce Italian rosato wine. Hills filled with vineyards and olive trees surround the lake, which attracts cyclists, nature lovers, and history buffs. There are even three islands encapsulated in the lake — including Isola Maggiore which is home to a small number of residents.
In the area around Lake Trasimeno, Sangiovese, Trasimeno Gamay, Merlot, or Ciliegiolo are typical rosato varieties. A smattering of native grapes of the region are also a possible element. Trasimeno Gamay, for reference, is a head-scratcher. It’s actually Grenache (Garnacha in Spain), a misnomer in the early days of this wine’s movement between Italian and French markets.
Recent years have brought new interest in rosato, along with an investment in modern techniques, and an emphasis on quality. Sabina Cantarelli, second-generation proprietor of Montemelino and president of the Colli del Trasimeno wine route, says that “rosé is becoming really interesting here” and notes that while it’s not a traditional product, it’s one that is appealing to visitors and fans from other parts of Europe.
Cantarelli says there are new investments and plantings, and “more women and young people” taking interesting in wine growing and making in Trasimeno. For those interested in unique Italian wines on a budget, wines from Trasimeno present an appealing option.
While Umbria shares a border with Tuscany, and on many counts matches the quality, it’s less famous, so to speak, and this discovery element often protects prices. “The same wine on the other side of the hill would cost three times as much,” says Cantarelli. This is a land of small producers, with only 15 members in the consortium that represents the wine products of Lake Trasimeno.
There isn’t a lot of this wine on the US market yet, but it’s certainly something that visitors will experience on a trip to the region. A plate of lake fish with a chilled Trasimeno rosato is the perfect lunch during a day of exploration around Castiglione del Lago. And meanwhile, it’s a category to watch as more is sure to enter the international landscape.