Wednesday, 13 August 2008
Wine: Top ten rosés
Source . telegraph ukLast Updated: 12:01am BST 08/08/2008
Versatile with food and perfect for summer, the latest rosés are fresh, vibrant and surprisingly subtle, says Jonathan Ray
Telegraph Wine Offers
Rosé sales continue to rocket. This year, it is estimated that one in every nine bottles of wine sold in the UK will be pink. Ten years ago it was nearer one in 30. Sales last year broke all records and this year they are up yet another 25 per cent. What was once seen as an irredeemably naff drink is now regarded as de rigueur.
It's that thorny chicken-and-egg thing: are we demanding more than ever before because finer rosés are now being produced, or are finer rosés now being produced because we're demanding more than ever before? Suffice to say that pink wine, once the preserve of Provence, the Loire and Portugal - anyone for Mateus Rosé? - is now being made in almost every conceivable wine region. I've had some wonderful examples recently from Italy, Spain, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia - you name it, they make it.
France, where sales of rosé are now outstripping those of white, is also fighting back, with ever-more stylish examples coming from regions that had previously been very sniffy about pink production. California, though, is the daddy, accounting for 50 per cent of all rosé sales in the UK. Its best-sellers are the rather less than wonderful Gallo, Blossom Hill and Echo Falls.
This trio apart, the new-wave rosés tend to be drier and a lot more sophisticated than of old. Rosés are made from red (in fact, black) grapes. The wines are pink rather than red because the juice spends only a short time on the grape skins and pips, from where the colour and tannin come. As a result, rosés tend to be soft, light, fresh, quaffable and rarely complex. Pink champagnes, on the other hand, are made by vinifying red and white wines separately and then mixing them.
Rosés make great aperitifs and are wonderfully versatile partners to food. Hugely enjoyable examples can be picked up for less than a fiver (though you can pay five times that for the most serious examples) and I now drink buckets of the stuff, vindicated at last.
Here are 10 current favourites. Six of them come from France, a measure of its success at producing high-quality examples at every price level.
2007 Viajero Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, 13% vol, Chile (£3.99; Lidl 0870 444 1234). Absurdly cheap, I know, but this little gem from Chile's Curicó Valley recently got the gong for Best Rosé Under £5.99 at the Quality Drink Awards. And quite right, too: it is surprisingly refreshing, with decent fruit and a savoury, bitter cherry finish. Ideal for impromptu summer get-togethers, it goes well with spicy pizzas topped with anchovies, chillies and olives.
2006/7 Fetzer Valley Oaks Syrah Rosé, 13.5% vol, California (widely available at £6.99, but reduced to £4.99 until Aug 19 at Tesco and £4.49 until Aug 24 at Co-op). From vineyards in California's Central Valley region, this wonderfully juicy 100 per cent Syrah rosé is crammed with peppery strawberry/blackberry fruit and, thanks to well-balanced acidity, is backed by a crisp dry finish. Serve well-chilled with smoked chicken and avocado salad.
2007 CVNE Rioja Rosado, 14%vol, Spain (£5.49 if you buy two as part of a mixed case; Majestic). There are some cracking rosés coming out of Spain at the moment and this is one of my favourites, especially at this discounted price. A raspberry-pink 100 per cent tempranillo from one of the best-known names in rioja, it is fresh, fruity, flavoursome and surprisingly high in alcohol. Less surprisingly, it's spot on with mixed Spanish tapas.
2007 Foncaussade Les Parcelles Rosé, 12.5% vol, France (£5.69; Waitrose). A 50-50 blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot from Bergerac that is awash with ripe red and dark berries. Although sweet-edged, it has a good dry finish and firm structure. Versatile, it goes as well with rare-beef sandwiches as with sushi and sashimi.
Pinot Rosa Frizzante Di Paolo (Sacchetto), 11% vol, Italy (£6.99; The Real Wine Co 01753 885619). This delight should be on everyone's picnic table: a light, fruity, thirst-quenching pinot noir sparkler from the Veneto. A delicate, beguiling pale pink, it almost doesn't count as a rosé. Enjoy it on its own, unless you have wild strawberries to hand.
2007 Rousseau Frères Touraine Noble Joué Rosé, 13.5% vol, France (£7.99 or £45 per 6 until Aug 31, quoting code TW410; Telegraph Wine 0870 066 6889). An intriguing rarity from the Loire Valley, this is a beautifully-judged full-flavoured blend of three pinot varieties: blanc, meunier and noir. With appealingly fragrant aromas on the nose and luscious juicy fruit on the palate, it is classy stuff indeed. Enjoy it with seared tuna steak and vegetable stir-fry.
2007 Château de Sours Rosé, 13% vol, France (£94.80 per dozen, reduced from £101.52 exclusively for Telegraph readers while stocks last; Private Cellar 01353 721999). A silky smooth, red berry fruit blend of merlot and cabernet sauvignon, this is one of the best-known, consistently fine rosés around. A very limited number of double magnums are available at £55 each and would make a striking talking point at summer parties.
Langlois Crémant de Loire Brut Rosé, 12.5% vol, France (£11.99; Oddbins). A charming salmon-pink, 100 per cent cabernet franc sparkler from Saumur in the Loire Valley. Owned by Bollinger Champagne and made in the champagne method, it is vibrantly fresh and invigorating and provides a sophisticated alternative to the more famous fizz of northern France. Ideal for summer picnics, it goes particularly well with fruit-based puddings.
2006 Château Simone Rosé, 12.5%vol, France (£22.75; Yapp Bros 01747 860423). Pricey for a rosé, but it's serious stuff: a wonderfully complex Provençal blend of grenache (mainly), mourvèdre, cinsault, syrah, carignan, cabernet sauvignon, castet, manosquin and muscat noir. Fuller-bodied that most rosés, it has spicy cherry fruit and a firm, dry finish. Enjoy it with rustic pork terrines and French bread or barbecued spare ribs.
Taittinger Prestige Rosé Brut NV, 13% vol, France (from £34.99; Majestic, Oddbins, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Thresher, Fortnum & Mason etc). A scrumptious pink champagne: the chardonnay/pinot meunier/pinot noir blend is both creamy and zesty, with hints of wild strawberries, a fine mousse and a deeply satisfying finish.
Read more on Telegraph.co.UK