Some of the most popular wines for quaffing on a hot day are rosés. They’re no longer just for summer, our rosé wine sales are actually pretty stable all year round. That said, in personal experience rosé seems to shine brightest with the sun at its back.
Refreshing, versatile and easier on the pocket than some styles, rosé is produced in most of the world's winemaking regions. It is perhaps not surprising, that many believe rosé to be the oldest wine style of all. Early red wines produced in the ancient civilisations were likely a pink wine.
Today the most popular, and some would argue, the best, rosé wines come from Provence where Grenache is the dominant grape. Typically they're dry and renowned for their ability to pair well with foods. Rosé accounts for around 60% of all wine production in Provence. Grenache makes fruity and refreshing rosés and in Provence, it is no different. The winemakers of the region create a distinct style, utilising Cinsault, Syrah and Mourvèdre as well as Grenache. Provence Rosé is paler in colour than its counterparts and fresh, crisp and dry in style. Aromas often include strawberry, rose petals and peach.
The key to the success of Provence Rosé is its versatility. You could happily enjoy it with barbequed pork as much as you could with lobster or sushi, at any time of year. If we are picking favourites you could do far worse than (50028) Château Minuty Rosé et Or, Côtes de Provence, made from Grenache and Tibouren (a variety that is rarely found far from this stretch of the Mediterranean) and pairs perfectly with a traditional bouillabaisse.
Moving across the French south coast we arrive in Languedoc-Roussillon. Here rosé production also outstrips the production of white but only just. 12% of the wine produced in Languedoc-Roussillon is rosé, compared with 10% for white. Here we find wines reminiscent of Provence, elegant and dry rosé that is deliciously versatile and ideal with salads, seafood, grilled chicken or pasta. The same grapes are in play in Languedoc-Roussillon, however, Cinsault leads as the primary grape in our range. (33989) Délicat Rosé, Côtes de Thau offers great value. From vineyards planted close to the Etang de Thau; the largest of the coastal lagoons in southern France, this rosé has refreshing citrus flavours and hints of white flowers.
Moving up north to the Loire Valley and the historic Sancerre winemaking family of Joseph Mellot. Here we find rosé made with Pinot Noir. It’s not the easiest of grapes to work with and hard to get it consistent; fortunately, five centuries of experience is on hand at the Joseph Mellot Estate to produce an excellent range of elegant wines. Their (27186) Destinéa Pinot Noir Rosé, Val de Loire made from Pinot Noir is a great example of a Pinot Noir rosé; earthy, elegant, crisp and dry with notes of red berries and peach.
Continuing across the old world you will see that the style of rosé and the grapes used changes by region. In Italy there is a bit of a north-south divide; Northern regions such as Veneto create delicate, dry rosé (try the beautiful coral pink rosé 12002 Bardolino Chiaretto from Bolla). While down in the heel of Italy’s boot, regions such as Pulgia create rich and fruity rosés.
The Italian grape variety Sangiovese can be made to make rosé. It creates a medium dry rosé often with a bright colour. Strawberries, roses and peach are found on the nose here again, completed with a mouth quenching acidity.
In Spain, it is, of course, Tempranillo that rules the rosé roost. It’s found largely in Rioja but also across other parts of Spain. Tempranillo rosés are growing in popularity with their rich colour and more herbaceous notes. These wines bring fresh strawberry fruit flavours. (12027) Faustino V Rioja Rosado is made from grapes from 20-year-old Tempranillo vines which produce a bright cherry red rosé with fresh strawberry flavours. Viura and Grenache are also popular when creating Spanish rosé. (31321) Rioja Rosado, Viña Real is a blend of 85% Viura and 15% Tempranillo, pale pink in colour this wine has more soft fruit flavours of apricot and peach.
There is a great variety to be found across old world rosé, even before asking how they compare to the counterparts in the new world. It is said that the new world rosé trend was born out of the accident. In the 1970’s Sutter Home Winery in the Napa Valley experienced ‘stuck fermentation’ while producing a white from Zinfandel. Stuck fermentation occurs when the yeast that is turning the grapes' sugars into alcohol dies out before consuming all of the sugar. The sweet pink wine that was left was set aside, but later tasted and the winery realised it was on to a winner.
Sold as White Zinfandel, sales soared of this style in the 1980’s. It’s a soft, light sweet rosé wine that has become almost synonymous with rosé from the US. 85% of Zinfandel production is now used in the creation of White Zinfandel. It has around 3-5 grammes of residual sugar typically making it sweeter than its cousins across the Atlantic. The juicy (31623) Wicked Lady White Zinfandel, California is an excellent example.
This sweeter style however, doesn’t translate to the new world. In Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Chile, Syrah, Merlot and Malbec as well as Cinsault, Pinot Noir and Grenache are used to create rosé wines. Rosé made from Syrah crafted in the new world can often use the ‘Saignée Method’ resulting in far richer colours. This involves making rosé from red grapes. Some of the juice is removed at an early stage after a short period of skin contact. It is then fermented separately to produce rosé. White pepper, green olive, strawberry, cherry and peach are often associated with Syrah rosé along with a bolder taste.
Some great new world rosé from our wine list include (22657) Veramonte Syrah Rosé from the Casablanca Valley in Chile. It's packed with strawberry and cherry flavours with a lovely dry finish. From New Zealand, the whimsical wine team at Te Awa have created the (31448) Te Awa Left Field Rosé from Hakwe’s Bay. The wine is a blend of Merlot, Pinotage (more commonly found in South Africa) and Arneis (a northern Italian white grape) – a truly left field assemblage! (33811) Durbanville Hills Merlot Rosé from South Africa is made from Merlot is a delicious light rosé. A crisp finish and aromas of cherry, raspberry and strawberry make this summer in a glass!
Whether old world or new world, rosé deserves the attention it has been getting. Fruity, floral and refreshing and above all, excellent with food. No other wine style is as flexible when it comes to getting the food pairing right. So, if your heart is taken by a Provence Rosé or life sweetened by a White Zinfandel, let's continue to sell its virtues. And of course, take the time to enjoy a chilled glass with your favourite dish!