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France is the number one global producer of rosé, especially the Loire Valley, while Provence and the Languedoc are particularly renowned areas too. Additionally, throughout the wine producing world, there are some outstanding rosés which are fantastic with food (superb with BBQs and spicy dishes!) or for drinking on their own. Dry expressions tend to be crisp, refreshing and full of fresh fruit flavours - great when the weather's hot!
So, if you're offered a choice of red, white or rosé wines, hands up all those who'd choose the pink option and how many of you would at least consider it? These were my opening questions at a recent tasting I hosted. Why?
Over the years, rosé has often been seen in the UK as a less serious wine style, associated with lower quality examples, popular in the 1970s and 1980s. This stigma pervaded until a rise in popularity about 4-5 years ago saw sales increase of dry rosés. Despite facing competition today, especially from light, refreshing sparkling drinks like Prosecco and fruit-flavoured ciders and wines, rosé remains an important, if underrated, category and I wanted to know my guests' views at the start. The responses varied between those who said they generally didn't like rosés because they simply preferred red or white wines to those who still associated rosés with low quality. Some did drink rosés, but only in warm weather!
So with summer, well rainy, well typically British skies above us, how about some rosés to keep us cool and happy? Thanks to Hatch Mansfield and R&R Teamwork, I was sent five wines to review, which I presented at the tasting:-
Jean-Luc Colombo Vineyard
Made from Cinsault (40%), Syrah (40%) and Mourvèdre (20%), this is a light, refreshing, dry rosé with notes of strawberry and raspberry, Mediterranean herbs and touches of olive, fennel and spice. It would make a great pairing for grilled sardines or enjoyed as an apéritif.
Joseph Mellot Vineyard
The clear, luminous salmon-pink colour is characteristic of Pinot Noir rosé wines. Floral, fresh and delicate with notes of raspberry, this wine is the perfect partner to any summer BBQ.
Villa Maria Winery
A blend of Pinot Gris, Merlot and Malbec from vineyards in the Hawkes Bay region, this vibrantly coloured New Zealand rosé has bright floral aromas with flavours of strawberry, red fruit and spice. This is a perfect summer rosé to enjoy with friends as an apéritif or with light dishes, such as grilled chicken or Halloumi cheese salads.
Vina Real Winery
Made from 85% Viura and 15% Tempranillo, this Spanish Rosé is light, fresh and floral with notes of roses, peach and red fruit plus crisp acidity and a touch of cherry stone on the aftertaste.
This pale salmon-coloured South African rosé, made from a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage, spent three months on its lees. The result is a crisp and dry wine with notes of cherry, touches of citrus fruit and spice plus a creamy palate. It's clean, light and easy drinking - the perfect accompaniment to summer picnics and fresh salads.
Of all wine styles, rosé is perhaps the most food friendly, but the choices available at most restaurants, pubs and bars is woefully limited and often not particularly good. If consumers were offered a better selection of rosé wine with descriptions emphasising why they should choose one, wouldn't this be welcome? It certainly was at the tasting, as participants enjoyed the variety of wines and several would now consider choosing a rosé the next time they buy a bottle, in one case for tomorrow's dinner! Mission accomplished!