Rosé-coloured glasses

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I last wrote about rosé wines 4 years ago when Provence was experiencing increased global demand for its deliciously fresh and fruity pale salmon-coloured wines that capture the idyllic Mediterranean lifestyle in a bottle. It’s been more than a passing trend, the US is now the number one consumer outside of France and they can’t seem to get enough of the stuff.  The category is currently worth $87 million. The UK has whole shelves dedicated to rosés year-round.

Rosé is, however, made in many other places around the world.  Only last week I had a comparative tasting of wines from different wine-producing regions. Rosés from Navarra in Spain are generally Grenache-dominant, slightly more of a cherry colour, tasting of fresh strawberries & cream, whereas rosé from Rioja is made from Tempranillo tasting more of red and black berries and tend to be a little weightier. Bordeaux make Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant rosés heading more into the blackcurrant palate.  Italy’s most famous rosé is one made in Bardolino from the same grapes that produce Valpolicella and like so many Italian reds tastes of sour cherries with the addition of summer berries.

California produces swathes of White Zinfandel, usually slightly sweet with anything up to 25g/l of residual sugar.  Versions from Echo Falls and Beringer, to name a few, are very popular in the UK, they taste a bit like boiled sweets, and that’s OK if you like that kind of thing.

Back in France the Loire Valley also produces a slightly sweet version but at only 10g/l of residual sugar made from Cabernet(s) Franc and Sauvignon, it’s not at all cloying just ripe and fruity.  You may also be familiar with a very elegant rosé produced in Sancerre, this time from Pinot Noir.  Not much of it is made and even less is exported but it’s definitely worth tracking down in the UK, Tesco has one in its “Finest” range.

But in my mind the real rosé comes from the South of France from a blend of grapes containing Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and other indigenous varieties that have a subtle aromas of rosehips, honeysuckle and dried Mediterranean herbs, taste of redcurrants, citrus, raspberries and any number of summer fruits.  Provencal rosés deserve their success.  The region produces other styles of wines but rosé accounts for 88% of production, it’s their specialty and they do it so well. This is one of the wine world’s few success stories which has led to innovation both in the vineyard and winery, improvements in quality which can in turn demand a premium that people are prepared to pay.  As an example, the producers of Whispering Angel, Chateau Desclans, also produce a top of the range rosé “Garrus” which they make from their best plot of 80 year old vines, giving it some oak ageing on lees for roundness and a creamy texture; it has been described as the greatest rosé ever, they have 2 other wines with differing styles and they ARE available here in KL, enjoy!!

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