Rose wines – serious wines – ever evolving styles
Rose wines – serious wines – ever evolving styles –
On days like these with sunshine thoughts turn to holidays perhaps to the South of France and rosé wine drinking…………
In favourite holiday areas of France such as Provence and Bandol rosé wines are taken seriously and it’s here that the delicious light coloured, delicate yet fruity wines have been traditionally produced. Interest in drinking rosé may wax and wane but traditional producers continue to make these stylish wines, they’re never cheap and always sell.
At the other end of the spectrum there have always been cheap and cheerful rosés to choose from. Often bland, slightly sweet and cheap these were wines such as Anjou Rosé and other generic examples and their basic role was to offer an alternative to white and red wine without much drinking pleasure as a wine!
Mateus from Portugal was revered and is remembered, not least because of it memorable bottle shape (useful as a candle holder or lamp base and found in many households in the ‘80’s……….) it created a niche for commercial rosé wines as a favoured drink of the moment. In the90’s rose sales dipped and it seemed winemakers were less interested in making them and there was thus a catch 22 scenario: low sales – poor wines – low sales………….
How things go in cycles – over the last decade or so winemakers having started taking rose seriously to add a quality product to their range for a generation of wine drinkers are looking for a new wine to enjoy. Now, especially at this time of year wine shelves in shops are full of wines of every shade of pink from pale and interesting to the deep dark rosés that are almost red. Provence rose is still the favourite but poor harvests due to climate issues of rain, hail & frost and increased demand means there is a shortage this year so pink wine lovers must look elsewhere for their favourite tipple. Fortunately, there is a wide range available.
Seek out delicious lightly spicy strawberry scented rosados form Spain made from the Garnacha grape such as those from Cune in Rioja or more robust yet elegant and fruity New Zealand rosés made from popular grapes such as Malbec and Merlot. These pale pink wines retain the grape characteristics without the deep colour & tannins due to shorter contact with the grape skins in fermentation.
Some lower price rosés are really enticing such as the rich coloured pink hued wines from Chile made from Merlot and Cabernet with full soft flavours or the paler Pinot Grigio rosés from Italy. Wines such as the Cape Heights South African Pinotage rosé is surprisingly light soft and fruity from this grape more often remembered for its rustic robust flavours as a red wine. For those seeking a French pale pink rosé there are still plenty to enjoy – choose from the array from Languedoc Roussillon made by the quality co-operatives such as Foncalieu.
One category that is a continuing rising star is rosé sparkling wine. The English producers are proving their worth in this category of methode traditionelle wines using Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Langham Estate and Henners are two excellent wines in addition to the better known and sometimes more expensive Nyetimber, Ridgeview, Camel Valley et al. Try also some of the rose Cremants from the Loire or a Blanquette de Limoux from the South of France. Aussie fizz such as Jansz from Tasmania will also always delight.
Rosé Champagne is often seen as the epitome of elegance with its pale pink colour, delicate bubbles and elegant crisp flavours and why not. Often more expensive than its white counterpart whether non-vintage or vintage, it’s also the only rosé that can legally be made by blending red and white wine rather than minimizing skin contact with red grapes.
You won’t have far to look to find a plethora of rosés to try as our wine shops re full of them but it will often be worth stepping out of your comfort zone to try something different or experiment instead of dithering over making a choice of a red or white wine – try not to think of it as a compromise though!