Miraval Côtes de Provence 2014, France, £17.95
Owned by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, this restrained rosé has light aromas of strawberry, balance and fine acidity. Goes very well with raw seafood.
Available at: Berry Bros or Slurp
Cuvee Fleur 2014, France £4.99
Pink grapefruit and strawberry, powerful acidity, juicy, food-friendly finish. Excellent for the price. Try it as an aperitif or with a light curry.
Available at: Waitrose
Tamboerskloof Katharien Syrah, Stellenbosch, £14.29
A hint of oak gives body to a delicate, redcurrant- tinted palate. Tart acidity, perfect for summer drinking.
Available at: sawinesonline.co.uk
Gerard Bertrand Chateau la Sauvageonne 2014, France, £12.99
Savoury nose and dense, earthy palate with cherry flavours. Full- bodied, it’ll stand up to barbecued monkfish.
Available at: Majestic
Clos Rocailleux Braucol Rose 2013, France, £11.99
The Reckitts have only made wine for four years and they’ve created a wonderful dry, mineral but juicy wine. Drink with grilled sardines.
Available at: Red Squirrel Wines
Think barbecue and think rosé. These blends may have been maligned in the past but they are due their time in the sun, says Adam Lechmere
Isn’t rosé a strange beast? It seems to hover for ever in that hinterland between ‘longing to be taken seriously’ and ‘pre-barbecue zinger’. Unless you’re talking champagne (which is another story entirely), there are no ‘great’ rosés, in the sense of a wine that has complexity, that changes with age and has what the Spanish winemaker Alvaro Palacios describes as ‘something mysterious, spiritual, and sublime’.
Rosé is made from black grapes, with the juice running off the skins after a short maceration – a couple of hours for thicker-skinned grapes such as syrah and cabernet sauvignon, a day for the lighter reds like grenache. A huge range of grapes goes into modern rosé: in the last month I’ve seen wines made from tempranillo, touriga nacional, pinot noir, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cinsault, syrah, mourvedre, dolcetto, grenache… the list goes on.
And I’ve been tasting a lot of rosés recently. All the big wine merchants and supermarkets have shown their summer collections and rosé naturally features strongly. The first thing you notice about the rosé shelves is that looks are important. There’s a reason rosé comes in a clear bottle: we buy it on colour. In the UK we prefer a pale salmon-pink, a shade the French charmingly call oeil de perdrix, a reference to the dusky pink hue in the eye of a dying partridge. Americans – wary of the shocking sweetness of their horrible blush zinfandels – go for much darker rosés.
The most instructive tasting I went to last month was a blind line-up of 35 rosés from around the world. Many were from Provence, and the results, from a cross section of London wine critics, showed that, in the words of organiser Richard Bampfield, ‘It is clear that the Provençal style is still seen as the benchmark for dry rosés.’
So what should you look for in a rosé? Certainly not sweetness or oak. Too much of the first and you get disagreeably cloying bubblegum flavours; too much of the latter, and any delicacy is swamped by banana- peel dryness or creamy vanilla. As I’ve said, the colour should be pale, but on the pink-red spectrum rather ￼￼￼than onion-skin or ochre. Fruit should be red – strawberries, raspberries, a dash of redcurrant – and acidity should be bright and brisk. There shouldn’t be any greenness, none of the nettle or briar flavours that are prized in cabernet sauvignon, for example. A rosé should be refreshing but it should also have enough oomph to go with food.
Within those criteria there’s a range of flavours and styles. Provence produces a dependable, crisp, summer-fruit style; if you like a drier, more powerful wine, go for the grenache-based rosés of Tavel (the only Rhône appellation exclusive to rosé); further north, Rosé d’Anjou from the Loire is sweeter and lighter, delightful on a summer’s day.
It’s no coincidence that most of my recommendations are from France but there are some fine examples from northern Spain (look out for Chivite), Chile (the Garage Wine Co’s superbly dry ‘Old Vine Pale’), Argentina and Stellenbosch. Rosé may never be taken as seriously as its red and white siblings but when it sets out to charm, it has no equal.
This article was published on 27th August 2015 so certain details may not be up to date.