Each June for the past couple of years I've published a little report recommending my favourite rosé wines for summer - the 2006 feature is here for example.
The rosé renaissance shows no signs of petering out, with the category rising faster than any other in terms of retail sales. Rosé wine now claims around seven per cent of the UK wine market, compared to less than one per cent a few years ago.
So this year I gathered 15 rosés that are on the UK shelves for summer 2007, to present this mini-guide to some of this season's most interesting pinks. Included are no less than three wines from Miguel Torres, one from Spain and two from Torres' Chilean operation, which represent the variety of styles that can now be found within this category, from the dry and herbal, to the full and voluptuous.
Also in the mix is the cracking new wine from Stella Bella in Western Australia, and a fun new Pomegranate- flavoured spritzer from Sabai.
Domaine Boudau (France) Le Petit Closi Rosé 2006
This Vin de Pays de Côtes Catalanes is made from 40% each of Grenache and Cinsault, with 20% Syrah. It has a vibrant crimsony pink colour, and a delightfully vivid nose of crushed berry fruits with little hints of rose-hip and summer meadow flowers. There's a powerful fruitiness here, but quite complex little nuances. On the palate this wine balances very sweet, juicy, fresh-squeezed raspberry and strawberry juice flavours with a core of lemony acidity, giving a wine that is fruity and approachable, yet has the acidic cut - and a hint of spice and tannin - to make it versatile and food-friendly. £7.25, Berry Bros & Rudd, or £6.52 when bought by the dozen.
Château Verez (France) Provence Rosé 2006
A blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, this is a delightful Provence rosé that pours a warm, peachy-pink colour and has dry, herb and cranberry fruit, with some Pomegranate seed and just an underlying glimpse of something creamy and peachy about the fruit. On the palate there's very nicely tempered wine, with dry, savoury fruit and acidity, where the juiciness of the fruit is less sweet than in some rosés, but there is plenty of ripe, bursting flavour. Very nicely balanced with a fine acid structure, this is the essence of the summery Provence style. £7.49, Wine Discoveries.
Sabai (Thailand) Wine Spritzer with Pomegranate
Last year I reviewed the first release of Sabai, a decidedly 'girly' wine spritzer made with Thai wine and hibiscus. Now, Sabai have added a second product in identical packaging, but this one infused with pure pomegranate juice from Thai-grown fruit. Pomegranates are currently being touted as a 'superfood', rich in antioxidants and vitamins helping to counteract poor diet, pollution and ageing. It pours a pale crimson colour, and has a gentle sparkle. On the nose the pomegranate comes across strongly, giving a rich and fruity appeal with a touch of herbs in the background. On the palate this is less sweet than the hibiscus Sabai, with the red fruit flavours running against a nicely crisp and tangy acidity. Summery, delicious and very easy to drink, this is no fine wine of course, but to complain about that would be rather missing the point of this fun and frivolous drink - whether it's particularly healthy or not! Exclusively in Tesco at £4.99 for four.
El Prado (Spain) Tempranillo Rosé 2005
From the baking plains of la Mancha, this rosé made from 100% Tempranillo falls squarely into the 'cheap and cheerful' category, but in fact does its job very well. From its pomegranate colour to its vividly fruity nose this is uncomplicated and commercial, with sweet red fruits on the nose suggesting strawberries, peaches and cream, to a just off-dry palate with crowd-pleasing, juicy red fruit flavours and enough lemony acidity to give it an edge. Good value. £3.79 - £3.99, Waitrose and Somerfield.
Campo Viejo (Spain) Tempranillo Rosé Rioja 2006
Campo Viejo's rosé is made from Tempranillo, fermented at low temperatures to retain its freshness. This is one of very few rosés that are on the shelves under traditional cork and not screwcap or synthetic, but this bottle was certainly fresh and clean. The colour is a palish blush pink, and the nose has a very nicely tempered fruit quality, with a little suggestion of rose-hip and fresh strawberry, but some steelier, herb and cherry qualities too. On the palate the fruit is really quite modest compared to many rosés, with a savoury, lemony character and plenty of crispness and juicy, citrus bite. A fairly dry and savoury style, which should make for good food-matching potential. £5.49, Asda or buy three at £4.66 in Thresher.
Torres (Spain) De Casta Rosado 2006
This rosé from Catalunya in Northeast Spain is made from Garnacha and Cariñena (Grenache and Carignan). From a tall, screw-capped bottle it pours a delicate but vivid salmon pink, and offers fairly modest aromatics on the nose, with hints of redcurrant and cranberry, and just a hint of something floral. On the palate there juicy red berry and redcurrant dry, savoury fruit in abundance. There's a real surge of orangy acidity here too, and this has some structural tannin as it sweeps through the mid-palate. Dryer than the two Torres offerings from Chile tasted at the same time, this is quite moreish. £5.99, Sainsbury's, Everywine and independent merchants. See all UK stockists on wine-searcher.com
Bodegas Pirineos (Spain) Rosé 2005
Much more full, creamy, ripe and sweet fruit with cherry and rose-hip nuances. Creamier on the palate too, but this has very nice fruit and very bright acidity that keeps it refreshing and crisp. Lovely balance really, and a stylish rose. £5.99, Oddbins.
Miguel Torres (Chile) San Medin Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Miguel Torres of Spain was one of the first foreign investors into Chilean wine, and a great modernising force for the South American winemaking scene. This screw-capped rosé has a rich Pomegranate colour, and a warm, earth and spice nose of berry fruits that is more red wine-like than some pinks. On the palate this is rich and robust, but there is a definite sweetness here that takes the edge off of the deep, very intense fruit. This is a full-bodied and weighty, and is definitely a more structured and food-friendly style of rose, but the acidity is crisp and this is a fine rendition of the style. £5.99, Waitrose and Booths.
Miguel Torres (Chile) Santa Digna Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2006
Spain's Torres family have been operating in Chile since 1979, and this rosé from the Curico Valley s one of a wide range of Chilean wines carrying the Torres name. It pours a pretty, but quite rich rose pink, with distinctive herbal qualities on the nose. There's a little hint of peppercorns and green herbs, before some rose-hip and summery, strawberry fruit. On the palate this has a mouth-filling strawberry jam fruitiness, with plenty of sweetness (though less than Torres San Medin rosé cuvée) and a juicy cherry fruit and acidity into the finish. Gluggable yet with concentration and a savoury finish. £6.49, Tanners, Selfridges, Thos Peatling and other independents. See all UK stockists on wine-searcher.com
Château Richemont (France) Bordeaux Rosé 2006
Actually made by that most excellent rosé producer, Château de Sours, this Cabernet Franc/Merlot blend comes in a screw-capped bottle and pours a vibrant, moderately deep blush pink. It has a dry, vinous, quite curranty nose, with notes of raspberry and redcurrant. On the palate there is an initial hit of sweetness, with a drier, berry-fruited quality coming through. This stays quite delicate in the mouth, with a light edge to the fruit and texture, and a seam of lemony acidity. A balanced and stylish rosé that also has a food-friendly appeal. £77.40 per case, www.fromvineyardsdirect.com.
Fetzer (USA) Valley Oaks Syrah Rosé 2005
Fetzer's Valley Oaks Syrah Rosé is an old favourite, normally made in a robustly fruit, near-to-red-wine style. This screw-capped 2005 makes no exception, pouring a deep, vibrant crimson pink. There's a touch of creaminess on the nose, and a little nuance of briar, before quite chunky raspberry fruit comes though. On the palate this has quite a rich, full texture and that robustness continues, with a grippy nip of tannin and a powerfully vinous weight of fruit. There's a real juiciness and tang here, with plenty of drying, cranberry fruit and acidity. Definitely one of the more 'serious' rosés about, though the abundance of sweet fruit makes it very fresh and easy to drink. £6.49, Booths, Budgens, Co-op, Oddbins.
Errazuriz (Chile) Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2005
Errazuriz is currently a Chilean winery on full song, and their take on the Rosé style is a distinctly red wine-orientated, deeply-coloured wine bottled under screwcap. At 13.5% this is no lightweight. On the nose there is abundant, fresh, raspberry and quite intense cherry fruit, with a floral hint, but plenty of driving red fruit. On the palate it is quite full-bodied for a pink wine, with plenty of creamy red fruits and a hint of tannin adding bite and depth. The acidity here is lovely, giving this a freshness and palate-cleansing food-friendly appeal (chorizo, salamis and the like spring to mind). £6.99, Thresher (so only £4.66 on Thresher's usual 'three for two' deal)
Stella Bella (Australia) Sleeping Dog Lies Shiraz Merlot Rosé 2006
This wine is brand new and may not be in Oddbins branches as yet but it is definitely one to look out for. Made from late-picked Shiraz and Merlot, the majority of the fruit comes from the Margaret River region. It pours a very nice, deep, ruby pink and has a really nicely vinous, cherry, raspberry and lightly herbal nose, with some quite grassy, almost Sauvignon Blanc-like aromas (try taking a sniff with your eyes shut). There's also a little delicate rose-hip and cranberry note, in a complex profile. On the palate this stikes home with a flood of juicy, sweet, strawberry and burstingly ripe cherry fruit, but despite the vivid fruit sweetness and brightness, a finely-honed tangy acidity and hint of steeliness pushes through the mid-palate, leaving the finish crisp, but coating the tongue with creamy red fruit flavours. A really delightful wine this, and my pick of the current rosé crop. £8.49, Oddbins. Oddbins will also offer 20% off six bottles I'm told (equivalent to £6.79 per bottle).
Henri Pelle (France) Menetou-Salon Rosé 2005
Light, delicate, cranberry and delicately strawberry fruit, with a nice punch of herbal influence. Quite grassy and racy too. On the palate a nice style this, without too much sweetness or cloying qualities, and a racy green streak to savoury red fruit. Crisp, lemony and balanced in the finish, this is rose in a white wine style, but is very good. £8.99, Oddbins.
Capricorn Wines (New Zealand) One Tree Merlot Rosé 2005
An interesting wine this. The back label says grapes were selected by Master of Wine Steve Smith, whom I know from making the wines at the top Hawke's Bay estate of Craggy Range. On googling Capricorn Wines, they come up as producers of not just the One Tree range, but also 'Wild Rock' - proof positive that this is part of the Craggy Range stable, since Wild Rock was once Craggy Range's 'second label'. This saignée method rosé Merlot comes in a screwcapped bottle, and has a vivid but quite warm pink hue. The nose is very soft and strawberry-like, with a little background lick of vanilla. On the palate It is quite full and dry, but there's a creaminess to the texture and flavour that makes this textural and expansive. The fruit is ripe and sweet, although there's a nice acid balance that freshens things up in the finish. A little pepper and spice note fills in too, in a gluggable and mellow rosé with plenty going on. £8.99, Waitrose.