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Rosé round-up, summer 2012

by Tom Cannavan, 08/12

bottles Each summer I publish my 'rosé round-up', collecting together the various rosés that I have tasted or received as samples over the previous couple of months. In the past four or five years this has been a bumper crop, with dozens of sample bottles arriving at my tasting room, and with rosés in abundance at the various tastings I attend in spring and early summer. My 'rosé round-up' has regularly run to 30 or 40 wines. However in 2012 the power of the pinks seems to have waned a little: in light of poor weather across the UK for large tracts of the summer, sales have been depressed, and the number of wines being shown at retailer tastings and being despatched as samples has dwindled. One wonders if this is the beginning of the end for the UK's recent love affair with rosé - our fastest growing category for several years - or just a temporary blip?

This trimmed-down salute to rosé contains a few shockers I'm afraid, but please note that the relatively high proportion of those amongst the 14 wines tasted is not representative of the category as a whole - and this is most certainly not a comprehensive examination of the rosé category. You will perhaps find something to catch your eye in this round-up, and August usually sees a clutch of promotions and discounts on pink wine too.

a couple of late entries

Jacob's Creek, Cool Harvest Shiraz Rosé 2011, Australia
Harvested at night to preserve the freshness of the grapes, this has a cherry-pink colour and buoyant aromas of raspberries and redcurrants. There's the merest suggestion of effervesence on the tongue - though probably just from a little protective Cº2 to maintain its freshness - and juicy fruit flavours that finish simply but cleanly, just hinting at off-dry. Only 11% alcohol. 85/100. £7.98, Asda, but note this is planned for 'roll-back' to £5.98 from 23rd August through 4th October 2012.

Domaine de Pellehaut, L'Eté de Gascon Rosé 2011, France
Look out for this new wine arriving in Waitrose stores towards the end of August 2012. It's a highly unusual combination of Tannat and Merlot from a 300-year-old estate in the Gers region of Southwest France, made from the oldest vineyard plots on the estate - over 40 years old. It's also fairly unusual in style in that with 57g/l of residual sugar, it is medium-sweet. Crisp, strawberry and raspberry fruit is tinged with green apple which gives this appealing freshness on the nose. On the palate this is all about creamy sweetness, like a strawberry shortcake ice cream which, in fact, would be a wonderful food-match. There is good acidity in the finish in a very successful summer in the garden or dessert wine style. 11.5% alcohol. 87/100. £9.99, Waitrose from end August 2012.

sparkling

Sorelle, Rosé NV, EU
Tesco has gone big on reduced alcohol wines and wine-like drinks. This 0% alcohol rosé is made using "a bacterial fermentation that doesn't produce alcohol," and, according to Tesco, "Only our finest ingredients are used to produce our premium wine-style drink." It is quite sherbetty, like a far distant cousin of Moscato d'Asti if one is being really kind, but it is just too sweetie sweet and lacking in discernible character to waste any more words. 73/100. £3.49, Tesco

Jaume Serra, Cava Rosé Brut Reserva Gran Seleccion, Spain
The rosé partner to Jaume Serra's Brut is down to just £4.99 between 18th July - 25th August 2012 in Tesco. It's a blend of 80% of the local Trepat with 20% Pinot Noir and spent 15 months in bottle before release. It pours a pleasing soft pink and has fine bubbles, with the aromas fairly subdued, but showing a hint of redcurrant and herbs. On the palate a pleasant strawberry fruit quality is really nicely balanced by the acidity here, the soft mousse and dry, raspberry and redcurrant acidity fine into the finish. 86/100. £4.99 on offer, Tesco

Montresor, Rosé Royal Spumante Brut, Italy
This sparkling wine from Verona in the northwest of Italy is 100% Pinot Noir and is all about freshness and crispness with the emphasis on fruity and floral character. It has a delightful Provençal pale colour, and the nose is extremely delicate with rose hip and light raspberry. The palate is keen and racy, with a running water clarity to the acidity that makes this quite classy stuff, I guess made in the local Prosecco style and deliciously so. 88/100. £9.75, WoodWinters.

still wines

Fairhills, Fair & Light Rosé NV, South Africa
Another of Tesco's Frankenstein wines, or to be more accurate, "aromatized wine products," this 5.5% alcohol blend of Merlot and Pinotage comes from the Western Cape and is just revolting. 60g/l of residual sugar makes it cloyingly sweet, with weird, confected aromas and flavours like the cheap E-number sweets any sensible parent would forbid their children to touch. It's Fairtrade but fairly horrific too. Nil points. £4.99, Tesco.

Marks & Spencer, House Wine Rosé 2011, France
From the IGT Comté Tolosan in South West France, this is a moderately deeply coloured and very good little pink, with vivid redcurrant and dry, cranberry aromas and a touch of smoky spice. Fruity, well-balanced and basically dry on the palate with a bit of sour cherry bite, with its 12% alcohol it is a commended summer sipper. 84/100. £4.99, M&S

SPAR, Portuguese Rosé, Portugal
I tried this wine several years ago and thought it might just be the worst wine - not just rosé, but any wine - available on the UK shelves. I did always wonder if it could really have been that bad, or perhaps I should have got another bottle to check? Well, the answer comes now with a wine that is equally abhorrent. It's a non-vintage, non-regional blend of undeclared grapes made with a considerable bucket of residual sugar (officially 'medium sweet' on the back label). It has a hopeless browning colour, lots of Sherry-like oxidation and truly sickly flavour. I guess I may as well add that it's on special offer at £3.99 until August 8th 2012. 60/100. £5.09, Spar

Terres des Olivettes, Rosé 2010, France
A modern, screw-capped 12% rosé from the Languedoc that's a blend of the expected Cinsault, Grenache, Carignan and Syrah. It is made in an attractive, dry, herb-scented, Provence style rose with keen, lean, raspberry fruit and a subtle palate that's very crisp. Fish and seafood friendly stuff with great zest and freshness in the finish. 86/100. £6.95, WoodWinters

Yali, Winemaker's Selection Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2011, Chile
From Colchagua fruit, this rosé is one of the paler-coloured examples from Chile and it offers clear raspberry and fine, pomegranate aromas. On the palate there's plenty of peachy ripeness, a little nip of tannin and a not unpleasant hint of ripe tomato. There is a hint of sweetness to this making it quaffable, but the finish is food friendly in a very nicely made wine. 85/100. £6.99, Morrisons.

Marques de Alarcon, Rosado 2011, Spain
A note to watch out for the vintage on the label if buying this wine, as I see M&S still have the 2010 for sale too. A rosé Tempranillo from Tierra de Castilla weighing in with just 12% alcohol, it has a pretty cherryish colour and abundantly fresh and fruity nose of summer berries. On the palate it is dry, with a very good core of lemony, fresh acidity that cuts through the berry and rose-hip flavours to leave this quite savoury and moreish. £7.49 Marks & Spencer, but note: on offer at £6.49 until September 2nd 2012 and included in a 'buy 6 save 25%' promotion running from August 13th (not in Scotland) which means the price will fall to just £4.87 which is a very good buy for the Indian summer we are surely going to have...

Piggy Bank, Grenache Syrah Rosé 2011, France
The brand new Piggy Bank range of wines - six in total - is in Waitrose stores and online from August 1st 2012, and 50p from every bottle will go to charity (vote for the charity of your choice at piggybankwine.com). This Pays d'Oc rosé has a medium cherry/salmon colour and an abundantly fruity nose suggesting ripe summer berries. There's a little hint of briary woodland and spices, but it is focused on the fruit. On the palate it is dry, has a lip-smacking tartness of raspberry, and finishes elegantly. Lovely, food-friendly style. 86-87/100. £7.99, selected Waitrose and Waitrose online.

Commanderie de Peyrassol, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2011, France
That delightful, very pale, peachy Provence colour immediately appeals in this blend of Syrah Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre. The nose has that typical soft red fruit and lightly spicy and herby aroma, with a wisp of something smoky and mineral showing the complexity that makes these wines so appealing. On the palate it is bone dry and has a lovely cut of fresh citrus and mineral acidity through the gentle fruit flavours, into a long, clear finish hinting at orange and raspberry. 88-89/100. £10.99, Majestic, but on offer this month at £9.99.

Château de Sours, Bordeaux Rosé 2011, France
One of the stars of the rosé boom has been Château de Sours, with their elegant, light, but fruit-packed wines. This 2011 rendition is made from Merlot and Cabernet Franc, and weighs in with a modest 12.5% alcohol. It has a fashionably pale Provence-style colour, and delicate summer aromas of berries, rose-hips and flowers and a hint of minerality. In the mouth the fruit burst forth in an explosion of passionfruit and strawberry, with great vitality and a rush of pink grapefruit zest and juiciness. Long and impeccable stuff, and delicious. 90/100. Around £10-£11.00, see all UK stockists on wine-searcher

Montes Cherub, Rosé Syrah 2010, Chile
Quite a deep, cherry colour, this new wine from Aurelio Montes' Colchagua vineyards shows spice, red berries and a hint of rose-hips on the nose, with a nice expressions of Syrah's earthy, sappy character. On the palate it is quite full, rich and concentrated, with just a smidgeon of residual sugar. 87/100. £10.00, Tesco.com

Domaine Lyrarakis, Okto Rosé 2011, Greece
This wine is not currently in the UK, though Berry Bros have recently started importing some of the domaine's other wines, so it may appear at some point. Lyrarakis was established in 1966 and is located in the mountainous commune of Alagni at 440 metres, south of the city of Heraklion on Crete. The grapes are not specified, but the red in this range is made from Kotsifali, Mandilari and Syrah, so I would guess this may be the same. It has a very dark colour, more of a light red, and a vinous nose showing cherry and some leafy, savoury notes. On the palate it is a very well-balanced wine, with a solidity to the berry fruit and gentle tannins and spice playing against good acidity. 87/100.