Wine Wednesday: Lettera C – Best Rosato of Italy

Today’s Wine Wednesday is dedicated to a wine from Valtenesi that I tasted earlier this month from Azienda Agricola Pasini San Giovanni. Andrea Pasini founded the Azienda Agricola Pasini San Giovani winery in 1958. Their vineyards are at 148 meters above sea level. Today the third generation is running it. Their wines have been organic wines since 2014. They are very attentive to their carbon footprint, and have been measuring it since 2009. They grow grass between the vines and the biodiversity in the vineyards is evident.

Where is Valtènesi you ask? It is an area located on the morainic hills of the Western shores of the Lake Garda region, with small flatlands dotted among the gentle slopes in Lombardy.

The climate here is temperate thanks to the nearby lake and the effect it has on the vines. Lake Garda is Italy’s largest and deepest lake. The lake was once covered by a glacier. This body of water is important because it is a reserve of cool air when it is too hot and warmth when the days grow colder. The lake also protects the vines from the nearby Alps and their harsher climate. Thanks to this temperate climate, producers  around the lake can, and often do, also grow olives, lemons and capers, as well as grapes. This polyculture of crops as we know is better for the soils.

The Valtènesi Chiaretto can be made from a blend of four grapes Groppello (di Mocasina, di San Stefano, and/or Gentile) min. 30%, Marzemino mx 25%, Sangiovese max 25%, Barbera max 25%. Alternatively, other red grapes can be added for up to 25% but Bordeaux varieties such as Cabernet Franc and Merlot can only make up 10%, Most producers try to use the local varieties in the blend I have found. Producers can put Valtènesi and the name of their local town if it is in the Valtènesi DOC.

Their rosato wines are usually pale in color between onion skin and very light salmon in color with orange notes on the rim. They are intensely fruity and floral on the nose. Groppello on its own vinified in stainless steel is very much like the French grape Gamay.

Today’s wine as it happens is made from 100% Groppello. The wine is made in ceramic ovale shaped and rests for a time on its lees. As a grape, Groppello has a thin skin and is delicate. Pasini San Giovanni is an organic farm and they are extremely attentive to the entire production process and vilification. While they make a number of Chiaretto wines, Lettera C is a riserva. It’s a project that pushes Chiaretto a new level. Gambero Rosso voted the 2020 version of Lettera C as the Best Rosato of Italy in its 2023 Guide, Pasini also won Tre Bicchieri Award for the second year in a row. The wine is both young and fresh as well as persistent, elegant, and refined. For the moment, they have only made 2.080 bottles.

Lettera C has many meanings as a name, the first is that it is the third letter of the Alphabet and rosé wines are the third important wine category or color that Pasini creates. It is also the third wine that they have created from just one grape. Usually Chiaretto is a blend of 3 or more grapes but Lettera C is all Groppello. This wine is also the symbol of the current generation running the winery, the third generation. It is the letter which the number fifty-eight starts with in Italy, Cinquantotto, that is the year the winery was founded – 1958. Lastly, according to a press release, the letter C is round and harmonious but has an open space, one that can be filled with innovation and creativity. Moreover, the letter C in Italian is also the word for time – crono, for circle – cerchio, for ceramics, and for conoscenza or knowledge.

With this version of Chiaretto, Pasini is looking to push the envelop and see if Chiaretto can be considered a wine to age. From our tasting in early October during the Wine Media Conference events, it seems a success.

This picture was taken during the conference at a celebration in the castle in Desenzano del Garda. My big smile is due to the Lettera C in my glass. I have always liked the Pasini wines and Paolo, the current leader of the winery. Today is also his birthday so it seemed a perfect moment to mention this wonderful wine. Auguroni! They are brought into the USA by Coeur wines.

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