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Rosé round-up, summer 2014

by Tom Cannavan, 07/14

colours Every summer since 2006 I have published a big 'rosé round-up', collecting together the various rosés that I have tasted or received as samples over the previous couple of months. There is certainly no slow down in the push for selling - and presumably our appetite for drinking - rosé wines this year, with the 40-odd wines below just a sample of the plethora currently on UK retailer's shelves. The big theme? Provence for sure. Not only is every retailer worth his or her salt stocking a handful of them, but there are just so many lookalikes around: all of them very pale in colour, often based on Grenache or other Provence grape varieties, and bottled in clear Bordeaux-shaped bottles to mimic the typical Provence look and feel.

As always one caveat that this selection of 40 wines is by no means meant to be comprehensive or cover every country, region, or style of rosé. It is a broad snapshot that I do believe is pretty representative of what's on offer to UK consumers for summer 2014. The tasting notes below are presented in three sections: sparkling rosé, rosé under £8.00 per bottle, and rosé over £8.00 per bottle.

sparkling rosé

Winemakers' Selection Rosé Vino Frizzante NV, Italy
A blend of Pinot Bianco and Pinot Noir with 8g/l of residual sugar, 11% alcohol and under screwcap. Light, fruity, undemanding stuff, with not a lot of flavour and a finish that plays tart, raw acidity against sugar. Pretty ghastly actually. 78/100. £6.00, Sainsbury's

Innocent Bystander, Pink Moscato 2013, Australia
There have been many other Australian lookalikes for this Moscato d'Asti lookalike in recent years, but Innocent Bystander's fun and frothy version still delivers oodles of enjoyment at a fair price. Only 5.5% alcohol, under a crown cap and brimming with strawberry sundae fruit, there's a gentle tug of herbal acidity and apple and plenty of easy-drinking sweetness. 87/100. £8.50, Divine Fine Wines, see all stockists on wine-searcher.

Marks & Spencer, Moscato Rosé Fizz Doux NV, France
Who'd have thought it - France does Moscato d'Asti - or something similar. Such, fragrant, soft, cherry and berry-scented stuff, with plenty of icing sugar and sherbet and plenty of summery charm too. The French muscling in on d'Asti very successfully, with pitch perfect acidity and balance. Delicious, flowing, sweet and yet racy stuff. 88/100. £8.99, M&S,

Bouvet, Saumur Rosé Brut NV, France Bright, light, raspberry stuff with elegant and refined aromas. On the palate a rush of sweetly pitched fruit and a very gentle effervescence gives this a soft but racy, persistent appeal. There is such a lot of keen, but gentle charm here, flirting with a hint of sweetness, but very drinkable. 87-88/100. £13.49, Majestic, but on offer at time of writing for £8.99.

Jean-Claude Mas, Prima Perla Crémant de Limoux Rosé Brut NV, France
A blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir, this elegantly pale sparkling wine has very fine bubbles and a hint of briar and truffle to the apple fruit. There is a hint of small red berries. In the mouth it is racy and not too effervescent, a nice crunch of raspberry and again tangy rosy apple juiciness. Quite long, that hint of Pinot truffle and sweet earth adds a layer of interest. 88/100. £11.50, The Knotted Vine, see all stockists on wine-searcher

Gratien & Meyer, The Society's Saumur Rosé Brut NV, France This Loire sparkling wine is made from Cabernet Franc with a touch of Grolleau, for The Wine Society, and has 12.5% alcohol and a lovely peachy/salmon colour. A tiny whiff of sulphur blows of to reveal soft, delicately herbal and spicy red fruits. The mousse is quite delicate and very fresh, there is an edge of sweetness here too, and a sherbetty brightness. Very much summer in the garden or party stuff, it is terribly quaffable but with a nicely fresh finish. 87/100. £10.95, The Wine Society.

Pongracz, Sparkling Rosé NV, South Africa
A traditional method wine that is 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, it has a delicate salmon pink colour, come hither strawberry and cherry nose, with a certain softness and summery appeal. The palate is quite robust and rounded, a strong mousse and plenty of crisp, pithy lemon and even grapefruit acidity cutting through. Dry and delicious. 88/100. £11.99, The Champagne Company

Chapel Down, Sparkling Rosé Brut NV, England
100%Pinot Noir with a pinky/bronze colour, nice yeastiness and nettle qualities, with gentle red berry fruit. The palate has a fine freshness and elegance fruitiness, no real edges to the palate, which is long, elegantly tapering and very nicely done. 90/100. £22.99, Hard to Find Wines, see all stockists on wine-searcher

Hattingley Valley, Sparkling Rosé 2011, England
East Hampshire-based Hattingley Valley grows the three major Champagne grapes, and a small proportion of this blend was barrel fermented before spending 18 months on the lees. It pours a very delicate colour with lots of fluffy mousse, offering aromas of honey and brioche, as well as a touch of Pinot earthiness and good summer berry fruit in the mix. On the palate the mousse is full and creamy, and there's a lovely attack of sour-edged, citrus and tart hedgerow berries. Beautiful clarity and finesse here, and a long, elegantly balanced pink fizz. 91/100. £34.99, Wine-works.co.uk, though there are several retailers selling by the six-bottle case, with an equivalent bottle price closer to £31. See all stockists on wine-searcher

Champagne Veuve-Clicquot, Rosé Brut NV, France
Veuve-Clicquot is one of relatively few houses that makes its rosé by blending a little red Pinot Noir with its Champagne. The colour is quite deep, with a bronze hue, and there's a complex and inviting nose, a touch of mushroom and nutty character, and savoury, briary notes. The palate has plenty of development and toasty, woodland and mushroom savoury Pinot character, the red fruit coming though, and the wine finishing with plenty of racy acidity and zesty élan. 91/100. I tasted this from half bottle, available at £24.50 from thechampagnecompany.com, with full bottles currently £60 from Majestic.

wines under £8.00

Tagus Creek, Shiraz & Touriga Nacional 2013, Portugal
At time of writing certainly the cheapest rosé on my tasting bench, on offer at just £4.50 from its normal £6.25 on direct.asda.com. From Tejo and bottled under screwcap, it is a pretty deep garnet colour, with lots of sweet and earthy fruit, softer strawberry and some delicate floral nuances. Not the elegant Provençal style, but creamy, crammed with strawberry fruit on the palate, and with firm acidity in the dry finish. It is a real bargain at £4.50 I must say. 86/100. £4.50 on offer, direct.asda.com

Marks & Spencer, Las Falleras Rosé 2013, Spain
Quite a deep cherryish hue, with cool ferment aromas that have a touch of pear, a touch of redcurrant. Light, attractive palate, but not terribly distinguished; the flavours a touch dilute, though the balance is good and it finishes dry. 84/100. £5.29, M&S

Montgravet, Vin de France Cinsault Rosé 2013, France
One of many French rosés mimicking Provence in its packaging and pale colour, this screwcapped bottle is inexpensive and delivers a nice pear and apple-fresh nose, touched with red berries. On the palate there is a dollop of sweetening sugar, this is verging on the medium-sweet, with plenty of fruit, a touch of cherry or cassis, and enough balancing acidity. 85-86/100. £5.99, Waitrose.

Winemakers' Selection Chilean Cabernet Rosé 2013, Chile
From Curico, this is under screwcap and has a modest 12.0% alcohol. It has a delicate colour with a nice hint of Cabernet stemminess and earthiness. Really nice soft strawberry fruit. Not hugely structured or decisive, but there is juiciness and sense of creamy and approachable gluggability. 85/100. £6.00, Sainsbury's

Winemakers' Selection Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2013, France
A blend of 90% Grenache, 5% Cinsault and 5% Syrah, in screwcap and with 12.5% abv. Perfumed, elegant stuff, with a hint of rose hip and leafiness, and a certain crispness and crunch. There's an edge to this, as it retains good acidity and some floral nuances to the cherry jam fruitiness. 85-86/100. £6.00, Sainsbury's

Marks & Spencer, Vino Frizzante Rosé 2013, Italy
Bottled in screwcap this is very much frizzante rather than sparkling, with gentle effervescence and clean, fresh red berry flavours. Its modest alcohol and refreshing zip of acidity make it fine summer party or picnic stuff. 85/100. £6.99, M&S

Torres, Viña Sol Rosé 2012, Spain
Catalonian favourite Torres makes this rosé from Garnacha and Cariñena. Quite a deep, intense colour, lipsticky nose with cherry and bright, confident aromas licked with a little creaminess. The palate has delicious, bright and balanced fruit, with a stripe of tannin and dry, fresh acidity. 85/100. £7.07, Thedrinkshop, see all stockists on wine-searcher

Domaine La Chautarde, Provence Rosé 2013, France
From Coteaux Varois en Provence, this is under screwcap and has 12.5% abv. Lovely, moderately pale but vibrant pink with lightly stony, gravelly aromas to dry redcurrant fruit. There's enough sweetness and juiciness, but a tight lemony character too. Lemon drives the palate, which is clean, dry and vitally citrussy. Not complex, but juicily appealing. 86-87/100. £9.99, Majestic, on offer at £7.49

Pizarras de Otero, Rosé 2013, Spain From Bierzo. Such a contrast in colour to the many Provence roses in Majestic, deep cherry red with vinous, cherry and red liquorice aromas. Masses of fruit and sweetness floods the palate in a joyous and celebratory explosion of fruit. 87/100. £9.99, Majestic on offer at £7.49 at time of writing.

Mateus, Expressions Baga and Muscat 2013, Portugal
There can be few more iconic wines than Mateus Rosé in its flask bottle, transformed into a table lamp in so many hip and happening British homes of the 1970s. But the company behind Mateus, Sogrape, is a large and serious player in Portuguese wine and their latest attempt to extend - and to a certain extent rehabilitate - the Mateus brand, is a serious of varietal blends under the 'Expressions' label. With 11.5% alcohol and bottle under screwcap in a Provence-style bottle, this is pale and off-dry, with floral, sweet and summery hedgerow aromas. On the palate the delicate sweetness and soft, gentle redcurrant and strawberry fruit is nicely balanced. 85/100. £7.99 Tesco.com, available by the case of six.

Mateus, Expressions Baga and Shiraz 2013, Portugal
A much deeper colour than the Muscat blend, less fragrant, but with a nice cherry fruit and touch of red liquorice. On the palate it is creamy and substantial, with a lot of sweet strawberries and cream character, the merest hint of sweetness, but a nicely dry and crisp finish. 86/100. £7.99 Amazon.co.uk, available by the case of six.

Mateus, Expressions Aragonez and Zinfandel 2013, Portugal
Another moderately deep, cherry-coloured wine, the nose is vinous and tempered, with small red fruit notes but it is discreet. In the mouth it bursts with sweetness and full fruitiness, certainly the sweetest of the three to my palate, slightly too confected and bubblegummy. 84/100. £7.99 Amazon.co.uk, available by the case of six.

Marks & Spencer, Rosé D'Anjou 2013, France
A pale and peachy-coloured rose, with cool, pear-drop aromas and nicely bright cherryish fruit. Obvious sweetness here, an off-dry style, with bubblegummy fruit. Of a style it works well, and finishes with lively freshness. 84/100. £7.99, M&S

Marks & Spencer, Tercius Rosé 2013
Brightly coloured wine, with nice red fruits and a touch of earthiness and leafiness. A little more robust and rustic than some in the M&S range, with a touch of tannin and that earthy character against dry, red berry fruits. Attractive and food friendly. 85-86/100. £7.99, M&S

wines over £8.00

Taste the Difference, Fronton Negrette Rosé 2013, France
A blend of 85% of Fronton's main grape, Negrette, with 15% Cabernet Franc. Synthetic closure and 12.0% abv. Highly perfumed, leaping aromas of cherry and kirsch, pear drop and cassis, all very youthful, and whilst somewhat generic of very cool ferment winemaking, aromatically punchy for sure. Clean, vibrant and lipsticky bright on the palate, there is a mass of cherry here, tangy and herb-edged with tartly refreshing citrus in the finish. 86-87/100. £8.00, Sainsbury's

Marks & Spencer, Gold Label Rosé 2013, France
Moderately deep peachy-pink colour. Quite a lot of strawberry and earthier berry fruits here, plenty of fruit on the palate too, a sophisticated wine, clear and clean, the balance is fine and the clarity of the red fruits lovely into the finish. 87/100. £8.49, M&S

Domaine Houchart, Sainte Victoire Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013, France
Lovely, quite bold Provençal pale colour, with plenty of pomegranate and peachy tones, with that typically dry redcurrant aroma and flavour coming through. The palate has more cranberry and redcurrant dryness, but just hints of sweetness that add to the summery appeal before the typically bone-dry, mineral and lean finish that gives sardine and seafood friendly appeal. 88-89/100. £8.50, The Wine Society.

Gerard Bertrand, Gris Blanc Rosé 2013, France
Another pale Provence lookalike from the Languedoc, screwcapped and a blend of Grenache and Grenache Gris. A really nice, smoky-touched, fruity rosé, with a crushed redcurrant and raspberry note. On the palate there is lots of fruit freshness, but a very fresh and zesty style, finishing with a lovely balance or red fruits and citrus clarity. 87-88/100. £8.69-£8.99, Strictly Wine, Fraziers, see all stockists on wine-searcher

La Vie en Rose, IGP Pays d'Oc Rosé 2013, France
And yet another cash-in wine, made from Cinsault in the Languedoc, but in a très Provençal style. It's under screwcap and has 12% alcohol and a pale colour, with gentle red fruits on the nose, a little hint of something floral. On the palate 6g/l of residual sugar adds a flattering extra ounce of sweetness, and the finish is reasonably crisp, if just a touch cloying. 84-85/100. £8.99. Selfridges, Old School Wines, see all stockists on wine-searcher

Domaine de la Navarre, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013, France
Typically pale salmon/peach colour, and has that attractive, herby, straw-touched lightness along with some modest red fruit aromas. The palate has very nice fruit: punchy and sweet, set against a fine acid backdrop and touch of grippy concentration. 87-88/100. £8.99, M&S

Marks & Spencer, Pink Port 2013, Portugal
Cherry infused stuff, super sweet and approachable. Lots of cherry cola sweetness, lots of bubblegum and lifted flavours. But what's not to like in such an approachable Port wine, ideal served over ice perhaps - or would it work topped up with soda as a long drink? 87/100. £8.99, M&S

Château Beaulieu, Provence Rosé Cuvée Alexandre 2013, France
From the Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence and bottled with a synthetic cork, this 12.5% alcohol rosé has a peachy/pale pink colour and though there's a slightly cheesy whiff on opening, that soon blows off to reveal a pretty, raspberry and gravelly, dry redcurrant aroma that is appealing. The palate is clean as a whistle with a flood of very dry fruit and acidity. I see it has 4g/l of residual sugar, but in effect it is bone-dry, savoury and grown-up. 87/100. £9.44, Thedrinkshop, see all stockists on wine-searcher

Piccini, Memoro Rosato NV, Italy
Like other wines in the Memoro series from Piccini, this is a non-vintage wine, sourced from multiple regions, in this case 40% Negroamaro from Puglia, 30% Nero d'Avola from Sicily, 20% Montepulciano from Abruzzo and 10% Merlot from Veneto. It pours a deep garnet/pink. The nose has a touch of red liquorice, lots of cherry, and a certain creaminess too. In the mouth it has a touch of sweetness, but it is more about ripe creamy strawberry sundae fruit, a little tug of tannin and lemony acidity giving the finish freshness, though it is slightly too sweet and solid. 85-86/100. £9.49, Tesco.

Commanderie de Peyrassol, Provence Rosé 2013, France
A Côtes de Provence pink with a lovely sense of delicacy, there is hint of smokiness, and nice touch - a fleeting touch - of game. Fruit is cherry, and drier cranberry and redcurrant. The palate has a delightfully juicy appeal, a touch of strawberry sundae creaminess, and a rounded, delicious length that shimmers with acidity. Classic Provence. 88/100. £12.99, Majestic, on offer at time of writing at £9.74

M de Minuty, Provence Rosé 2013, France
From Côtes de Provence this is made from Grenache, Cinsault and a local speciality called Tibouren. Dry, herby, touched by cherry, raspberry and redcurrant, it is classic Provence with a herb and lemon palate and a chicory bite of dryness in the finish. Really nice stuff of its style. 88/100. £14.99, Majestic, on offer at time of writing at £9.99. Also in magnum at £25.00

Château de Sours, Bordeaux Rosé 2013, France
A stalwart favourite in the UK, de Sours 2013 is as usual a blend of Merlot and the two Cabernets, the colour is a pale peachy/salmon, and the nose has bright, green herb-touched raspberry fruit. There's a little whiff of Bazooka Joe cherry bubblegum. On the palate it is dry and quite substantial, with a nip of tannin and good levels of acidity, the fruit crushed cranberry and raspberry, certainly dry, and though savoury, it is still charming too. 88/100. £9.90 equivalent per bottle by the dozen, Goedhuis, see all stockists on wine-searcher

Famille Negrel, Rosé Côtes de Provence Sainte Victoire 2013, France
An old value for money favourite, the 2013 produced a low crop in Provence, but quality is good. In screwcap and with 13% alcohol, this blend of Cinsault, Syrah and Grenache has a lovely strawberry-touched aroma, with wild flowers and a hint of ripe, rosy apple. On the palate it is more or less dry, with a nice sense of concentration and elegance, the pretty red fruit sliced through by lemon-sharp acidity. 88/100. £10.99, Majestic, but on offer at £9.99 at time of writing, see all stockists on wine-searcher

rose colours

Mirabeau, 'Pure' Provence Rosé 2013, France
Englishman Stephen Cronk makes the Mirabeau wines in Provence, and this lovely wine, a blend of mostly Grenache with a little Syrah and a smidgeon of the white wine grape, Vermentino. It has a pale-medium salmon pink colour with really quite vivid fresh pear and small red berry, redcurrant fruit, clean but juicy and fruity. On the palate it has excellent freshness and vivacity, but again fruit is to the fore, some pomegranate and more red berries, but a wonderful fresh-sliced apple acidity. Dry in the finish, but very approachable with that up-front fruitiness. Really nice done. 89/100. £11.61, The Sampler, see all stockists on wine-searcher

Miraval, Provence Rosé 2013, France
Your chance to try Brangelina's very own wine from the Côtes de Provence. Bottled under cork, it is pale, interesting and beautifully refined, the dry redcurrant and hints of strawberry sundae perfectly pitched and poised. A gorgeous and glamorous summer rosé, though of course the price reflects a celebrity premium. 88-89/100. £17.99, Majestic, see all stockists on wine-searcher