Whether you prefer pale and crisp, or complex and elegant, Neil Sowerby has a rosé for you
IT’S not so rosé a scenario for pink wine lovers, with prices forecast to rise this summer due to dwindling stocks. Bad weather last year cut the French harvest by 12 percent, while global demand for the wine style now has folk as far afield as China necking it winter long. Britons, mind, are making their own considerable dent in the market – in 2017 we downed 111 million bottles of the stuff, spending £780 million on it.
Rosés are traditionally associated with France, which produces 30 percent of the world’s supply with the pale dry pinks of Provence the apogee. For the moment there’s still plenty of those at £10 and just under in the supermarkets, infinitely superior to all those sickly Californian blushes sharing the shelves.
As always, you’ll find more individuality from the independents and different styles too. Our ten picks venture into Spain, Portugal and Australia.
Petite Laurette Midi Rosé (Co-op, £7.99)
Since they first stocked it in 2010 the go to rosé at the Co-op has been Coeur de Cardeline, offering pure Provencal summer fruit flavours, but at a quid cheaper this newcomer from the Languedoc offers similar pale, crisp delights.
Coteaux Varois en Provence 2017 (M&S, £9)
Marks may be shutting stores after profits dropped even in its stalwart food sector, but the wine department is still gloriously on song. Among the Provencal rosés you could splash out £19 on the glitz of Brad and Angelina’s Miraval but better value comes from this delicate strawberryish cocktail of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Rolle, Mourvèdre and Carignan grapes.
Domaine Jeanne Esprit JJ Luberon Rose 2017 (Hanging Ditch, £13.50)
The Luberon is picture perfect Provence with glorious approachable reds and whites to match. This elegant, complex rose is also a step up from the first two recommendations without becoming too serious.
it smells of rose petals and tastes of raspberries
Minervois, Château Sainte Eulalie Rosé 2017 (Wine Society, £8.50)
The Wine Society’s list features charming Provencal Roses such as the Arbaude, Mas de Cadenet (£9.95) but also this more powerful (14%) food-friendly rival from the Languedoc, extra Mourvedre in this year’s blend adding an engaging spice to it.
Domaine de Chiniere Saint-Pourcain 2017 (Yapp, £9.86)
For something a little more delicate head to Saint-Pourcain, an appellation barely a decade old. Made entirely from the Beaujolais grape Gamay, it smells of rose petals and tastes of raspberries. It’s crisp enough to down on its own, but one of those creany washed rind cheeses would partner it well. Wiltshire-based Yapp Bros remain one of the UK’s best sources of Loire and Rhone Wines.
Ontanon Viura Tempranillo Clarete 2017 (Hanging Ditch, £13.50)
Another belter from the Ditch folk – an officially classified style of pale rosado confined to Rioja. Clarete is vinified as for a red wine, with short skin contact during fermentation. This hugely floral but elegant example from a fifth generation family winery typically blends the white grape Viura with Tempranillo and Garnacha. Another versatile food pink.
Petit Pittacum Boerzio Rosado 2016, Mencia, Spain (Reserve, £12.50)
Spain again, but a very different style as you would expect from Mencia, a grape that produces some of the country’s fruitiest reds (still a bargain on restaurant lists) from a rediscovered region in the North West. This refreshing rosado, made using natural yeasts, has red berries, cherries and plums on nose and palate.
Gaintus ‘One NIght’s Rosé, Penedes 2016 (Evuna, £15.50 retail, £28 in the restaurant)
You can rely on Spanish specialists Evuna to explore that little bit further in what is arguably Europe’s most exciting wine nation. The back story of Gaintus is fascinating. It’s made from 100 per cent Sumoll, a grape I’ve never encountered before, which is quite understandable. Once widespread in the mountains of Catalonia, it was nearly wiped out by the Phylloxera plague and the vines being grubbed up in favour of Cava varietals. Now Sumoll is suddenly flavour of the month again, being compared to Pinot Noir. For this rosé the grapes were harvested in one day and pressed in ‘one night’ before being fermented in 700 litre concrete ‘eggs’. Result – a lovely coral colour, scents of blossom and a vibrant acidity energising the fruit. Lovely.
Raza Rosado Vinho Verde (Reserve £12.50)
White Vinho Verde is back in fashion, too, but it’s rare to find a rosé version, made from the indigenous grapes that create the equal rare red Vinho Verde on Portugal’s North Coast. That’s an acquired taste but this gentle 11.5% pink is a real, refreshing charmer.
Pink Pound – Patrick Sullivan (love + labour, £24)
I have never sampled a rosé pamplemousse, a millennials’ tipple of choice according to The Times. Oddly, though, I do get hints of grapefruit (pamplemousse in French) and definitely ginger from this Aussie rosé, whose homoerotic label is as challenging as the mega cloudiness and melange of flavours that yell out ‘natural wine’. A blend of organic Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc, made using only natural yeasts, Patrick Sullivan’s wine is a real grower. It’s unlikely to wean the Provencal set from their pale pink crisp quaffers but it is a fascinating introduction to the natural wine list of Manchester-based love + labour.
Find out more about James Jensen and Katie Scott’s range here
Huge thanks to Joby Catto for providing images (and for helping me judge the rosés).