Each summer I present my rosé wine roundup, normally covering 30 to 40 pink wines currently available in the UK. The coronavirus lockdown initially made me think the 2020 report would be a little bit more difficult with no wine tastings organised, but wine producers and distributors ramped up their efforts to get review samples out to journalists, so even under lockdown I’ve managed to pull together 40 pink wines for the 2020 round-up and, hopefully, glorious summer to come.
Many of the wines come from Provence as I was lucky enough to get hold of quite a few just before lockdown started, though there’s a excellent representation from eight different countiries. The overall rosé story hasn’t changed much since last year, in so far as the pale, delicate and minerally Provence style is still the big player dominating the scene, with plenty of lookalike wines from elsewhere too. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all. There are also a couple of wines in small, 250ml cans. This format is seeing something of a mini-boom and while I suspect ‘fine wines’ will never feature, quality can be good and the handy one-person serving has its uses.
Here then, a delicious selection to enjoy this summer.
(2019) Made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and aged on the lees in bottle for 11 months before release, there's an attractive peachy-pink hue here, and good moderately small bubbles. On the nose some hawthorne and blackcurrant and a pastille/confectionery brightness. In the mouth there's a flattering sweetness to this, emphasised by its relatively soft acidity that gives it copious easy-drinking, summery charm. Down to just over £10 at time of review, that's the target price for this excellent party fizz.
(2020) Who doesn't love a wine like this occasionally? Is it red or rosé? Well, that's a moot point but it's nice to include this cherry-pink wine here as it certainly captures the summery spirit of rosé wines. This Piedmont wine is gently sparkling and off-dry, a counterpoint to the low alcohol Moscatos of the region with only 7% abv. Made from the Brachetto grape grown in the town of Acqui Terme, the wine is stored 0°C in Banfi’s 19th century cellars. It is frothy and offer a gorgeous pot-pourri of liquidised strawberry, pepper and sherbet with a touch of dark chocolate to boot. Mouthfilling, creamy and sweet, that pulpy strawberry sundae sweetness is balanced by just the right level of acidity and a hint of stemmy earthiness, into a long finish. Perfect summer in garden stuff.
(2020) Part of the Louis Latour portrfolio, Simonnet-Febvre is a Chablis producer who also make some fine Crémants. in this case a rosé made from of Pinot Noir, given some skin contact. It's a lovely, appealing wine, all bright and sherbetty raspberry and strawberry delicacy, some rose-hip floral nuances that I regularly find in this wine. The palate is dry, but again has that brightness and crunch, the keen raspberry and juicy cherry palate sweeping into fine citrus acidity. Garden party or barbecue aperitif? Look no further.
(2020) From the highest part of the Pinot Noir vineyard, this spent a full 60 months on the lees and has a dosage at 6g/l. The nose is lovely, crammed with small red berries, that extended time on the lees giving a touch of biscuit and light earthiness. In the mouth peach and, again, small tart red berries are brisk and fresh, the lemony thrust of the acidity extending the finish. A really nice rosé. No UK stockist at time of review, but the wine is available internationlly from xtrawine.com for around £22 per bottle.
(2020) This non-vintage English sparkling rosé is a blend of 35% Pinot Meunier, 34% Pinot Noir and 31% Chardonnay. 691 bottles were produced of this 18th December 2019 disgorgement, which was put into bottle on 23rd May 2017, so fully 30 months on the lees. It has a pale salmon/peach colour and lovely soft, pulp red fruit aromas, strawberry and raspberry. There is a nice biscuity autolysis too, giving creamy and mineral notes. In the mouth there is sweet fruitiness and the Brut level of dosage to soften tart bery fruits, and that it does very nicely indeed into a long, lemony and elegant finish.
(2019) The blend here is 60% of the red-skinned hybrid, Rondo, along with 32% Pinot Gris and 8% Pinot Noir. The wine has a dosage of 9g/l, and pours a medium-pink with good small bubbles. There's an attractive cherry bright and strawberry shortcake aroma, a nice creamy suggestion, then onto the palate a nicely balanced combination of small, dry red berry and orange fruitiness, and a line of citrussy acidity that gives it a fresh and balanced appeal, the dosage swept up by good acidity for a long, quite elegant finish.
(2020) It's actually quite unusual for me to like a house's Rosé as much as their regular Brut or Blanc de Blancs, but Bonville's pink is a beauty. A blend of 2014 and 2015 vintages with 6.57g/l dosage, it's a blend of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir, this bottle disgorged November 2017, and a striking, dry style of Rosé Champagne. A tinge of orange to the peachy colour leads on to streaming small bubbles and aromas of orange and redcurrant, some truffle and biscuit in the background. In the mouth a cushion of mousse supports bold, dry Seville orange and raspberry, a hint of sothing smoky and mineral, into an exquisite, long, dry finish. Excellent.
(2020) In very general terms I normally prefer blanc to rosé in Champagne, many rosés having charm and delicacy, but missing out a little on complexity. Gosset's has always been one of the exceptions, a properly complex Champagne that does have all the fruit, but a full four years of ageing on the lees, plus being made by assemblage, with a fair percentage of still Pinot Noir in the blend, giving depth and vinosity as well as charm. The blend is 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir, but in this case 9% of the Pinot Noir is red wine from vineyards in from Bouzy and Ambonnay and Cumières. It has a lovely, delicate pink colour and streaming small bubbles. The nose is all about pert and pretty red fruits at first, fresh raspberry and softer strawberry, but there's definite Pinot character too, a little truffle, a touch of wild scrubland and some yeasty biscuit notes. On the palate that sweet fruit dominates, but the acidity is pin-sharp. A very delicate, very much background touch of tannin just adds extra edge to this, the long finish and exquisite balance suggesting it's one pink Champagne that could also cellar for a years, as well giving gastronomic appeal - Gosset's suggestion of duck in a cherry sauce being as intriguing as it is appetising. Use wine-searcher for more independent stockists.
Still Wines under £12
(2020) A very unusual non-vintage wine in that it is 90% Chenin Blanc, with 10% of added Merlot. In a 250ml can, Cloof stress its low carbon footprint and unaffected quality. Its a deeply coloured pink, the nose showing a little toffee apple character, some pulpy strawberry too. In the mouth it is crisp, apples and lemons, just a hint of briar and cherry, and dry in the finish. Pretty far from 'Provençal' in style, as it is described in the Cloof literature, but the standard two-glass serving in its lightweight can may appeal for picnics, etc. Coming into stock at time of review.
(2020) Another wine in a 250ml ringpull can (aluminium and recyclable), this is 100% old-vine Grenache and is organic, from vineyards in Navarra, Spain. It pours a pale and vibrant rose pink, with quite mellow aromas, lightly creamy red fruits. In the mouth it is lively, with a very gentle spritz on opening that dissipates, then sweetly-ripe, strawberry and papaya flavours and gentle acidity making it very easy to drink and picnic-friendly. It's quite widely available, and 31Dover.com sell a four-pack for just under £15.
(2020) From the deep-south of Italy, an 11.5% alcohol rosato that has a moderately deep colour and lightly herbal and slightly cherry-ish aromas. You will not miss the dollop of residual sugar in the mouth, more medium-sweet than off-dry for sure, with plenty of soft, creamy strawberry but just about enough juicy lemon acidity to balance.
(2020) I'm a fan of Torres' aromatic white version of the Viña Esmeralda and I have to say this wine put a broad smile on my face. Pretty and pale pink in colour, it is 100% Grenache from Torres' vineyards in the Penedès, and is fragrant with old roses, pomegranate and strawberry. On the palate some residual sugar makes it summery and very easy-going, the tang red fruit and citrus acidity balancing nicely, so that it finishes basically dry, and quite pure and long.
(2020) A contemporary, pale-hued rosé from Rioja, this is 85% Garnacha (Grenache) with 15% of the white wine grape, Viura. There's a little bit of elderflower and passionfruit, presumably from the Viura which often exhibits those characters, onto the palate which is nicely concentrated with a bit of fruit skin grip and intensity, oranges and more of that passionfruit character, and keen citrus zest acidity, presumably early picking ensuring that raciness, with only 12.5% alcohol.
(2020) Something a bit different in amongst a sea of Provençal styles on the market, this is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which is deeply coloured following 36 hours skin contact. The nose is all confiture with Morello cherry and raspberry jam notes, and a sense of creamy roundness. In the mouth there's an unmissable bit of residual sugar, and balancing is not just some crisp acidity but a little tannin, which along with more berry-ripe fruit gives this a bit of savouriness to offset the sweetness of the finish.
(2020) From an estate owned by Scottish industrialist Sir David Murray, this is a Cinsault and Grenache-led blend from Varois en Provence, where 350-metres of altitude provide relatively cool conditions and clay and limestone soils some added freshness. It is elegant and perfumed, some floral notes and cherry fruit, a softer hint of pulpy strawberry too. In the mouth red fruits but a keen acid framework that adds a cleansing, quite pithy lemon freshness too. Stylish and good value.
(2020) From Cinsault vines grown in the Languedoc, this is another pale and Provençal-style rosé, there's a little bit of candy, amylic aroma here from the cold ferment (not uncommon in many of the palest rosés), and then cool and pretty watermelon fruit, touching on peachiness. Good, lemony acidity sharpens up the finish, with sweet small red berries.
(2020) A blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Cinsault and 10% Syrah from 25-year-old vines, this is a medium peachy-pink colour and has an overtly fruity nose, pomegranate and redcurrant, small and little peppery berries. In the mouth there is weight, richness and texture, plenty of summery, mixed berries character along with a cool, clean acid balance to finish on a savoury note.
(2020) Pouring a medium-pale, quite burnished, orangey-pink, this has dry seeds and herbs on the nose, a little spice, and then a bright melon and pomegratate fruitiness. Dry and savoury on the palate, there is a nicely sour and tart edge of underripe plum and raspberry, giving this a very gastronomic, digestible feel. A sweetness to the fruit and creaminess makes it very approachable, within an overall framework of savouriness.
(2020) An unusual blend of Pinot Noir, St Laurent and the white Arneis variety originally from northern Italy. Pale colour, strawberries and a leafy herbal character. The palate is dry and fruity, retaining that small underripe berry dryness of herbs and pomegranate. Price and stockist is for the previous vintage at time of review.
(2020) This is the rosé to buy if you are a fan of Sauvignon Blanc, because it is a particularly vivacious example, showing some of the passion fruit and elderflower pungency of a Savvy, the early picking of the grapes (this has only 12.5% alcohol) and I am guessing some Sauvignon Blanc yeasts giving that vivacious personality. Juicy on the palate with red berry fruit and sour orange and grapefruit blast of acidity, it is a dry, striking and very singular expression of rosé, and enjoyable to boot.
Still Wines over £12
(2020) Pink Port is all strawberries and cream, hint of Parma violet and a touch of red liquorice. Full sweetness again, with the spirit sitting under the creamy summer berry flavours. An innovation from Croft a few years ago, works as a long drink/cocktail base too. Quite widely available, price for a 75cl bottle, but also comes in 50cl size.
(2020) The UK's centre of excellence for wine and winemaking studies, Plumpton College's students make wines from their own estate vines in East Sussex. For this medium-deep coloured rosé the grape variety is Acolon, a Geerman cross of Blaufränkisch and Dornfelder. A little touch of earthiness and herbal quality sits nicely with creamy, pulpy soft strawberry fruit aromas. In the mouth lots of fruit sweetness and creaminess, good balancing acids and a highly sippable pink all-rounder.
(2020) This Sicilian rosé is certified organic, and is a blend of the local Nero D'Avola and Frappato varieties. Santa Tresa say it has taken time to perfect this style - let's broadly describe it as Provençal - given the hot conditions of Sicily. The colour is relatively pale with a little warmth to the hue, the nose delicately cherry-scented, very much focused on small red fruits, a touch of cherry bubblegum. Dry and tangy on the palate, raspberry tartness adds a refreshing twist, a touch of cool watermelon, and a concentrated and bone dry finish. £9.74 as part of a mixed six.
(2020) From the famouse Barone Ricasoli of Chianti, this IGT Toscana rosé is blended from Sangiovese and Merlot, and is an absolute dead ringer for a Provence pink, from the attractive, plump bottle to the pale colour and dry, herb and red fruit aromas. It is very different from the Cantele rosé tasted alongside, with a very light the palate, perhaps the fine lemony acidity would benefit from just a little more fruity substance lying over it, but it finishes with a nice tang of cranberry or rasberry and has the savoury credentials to make a very good food wine, maybe with a prawn pasta or risotto.
(2020) Based on 50% Cinsault with Syrah and Grenache, this Rhône rosé is a full-flavoured and full bodied rendition, but not without delicacy. The colour is pale and attractive, the nose has a little confiture and watercolour paintbox lift, and the dry palate loads of small, dry, raspberry and reducurrant fruit flavours, sliced by fresh lemony acidity with a little salty edge into the finish.
(2020) What a lovely rosé from Ventoux in the Rhône Valley, a blend of 50% Cinsault with 25% each of Syrah and Grenache. It's pale in colour and had beautifully lifted floral, watercolour paintbox and bright kirsch aromas, so bright, elegant and vivacious. In the mouth the 12.5% alcohol early-picking is obvious with a little flinty, sulphide note adding intrigue and the fresh but juicy and substantial weight of dry redcurrant and cherry fruit behind, the pert acidity perfectly judged. A very nice style this, gastronomic and mouth-watering, yet vivid and flavourful.
(2020) The Cronk family from England moved lock, stock and barrel to Provence in 2008 and quickly established Mirabeau with the assistance of Master of Wine, Angela Muir. In their beautifully presented range of rosés, Etoile is stocked by Sainsbury's in the UK, though Waitrose and many independent merchants stock other cuvées too. Very pale and pretty in colour, there's an exotic note on the nose, lychee and a touch of watercolour paintbox, and juicy ripe apple fruit. Lemony acidity - and fruit - balances that peachy and red berry fruit into an elegant finish. Watch the video
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(2020) Lots of zip and appealing brightness to this, a bit of lipsticky lift and bright red summer fruits: rosehips, strawberry and watermelon. In the mouth a nicely balanced wine, with that pulpy fresh red fruit tanginess persisting, a nice core of lemony acidity and pleasing dry, textured finish.
(2020) From English MW Justin Howard-Sneyd and his family, this blend of Grenache and Syrah is made by Jean-Marc Lafage of Domaine Lafage, with a limited run of individually numbered bottles. It's an unashamed homage to Provence from its pretty, pale salmon pink colour, to its sheer acidity and cool red fruit profile. As in the 2018 there's a whiff of exotic pot-pourri of flowers and spices, dry reducrrant, downy peach and watermelon fruit. That bracing shot of acidity revs up the finish, so whilst delicate and light, it has a bit of tension and grip too. Note that members of Domaine of the Bee's wine club can buy for £12, and bibwine.co.uk will be selling a limited number of 2.25-litre boxes of this wine.
(2020) One of the more unusual and more interesting pink wines, principally because it is a rare barrel-fermented rosé, the blend composed of 54% Garnacha (Grenache) and 46% Tempranillo, from Chivite's Navarra vineyards in northern Spain. It is pale in colour and pretty on the nose, the aromas immediately betray that barrel influence from the Alliers oak, vanilla, toast and a touch of truffle, but that's amongst the fragrant raspberry and summery, blossom fruits. In the mouth that creaminess and toast from the barrel is evident again, adding lots of intrigue, and melting into the soft pillow of red berries, a good and slightly salty acidity, all completing a fascinating picture.
(2020) The very minimalist packaging of this Provence rosé is explained by the eco-conscious brand behind it: made by Château Pigoudet, like all Sea Change wines each bottle purchased results in a donation to marine conservation charities to fight plastic pollution. No plastics are used, the bottle coming without a capsule, its label made from plant cellulose. The wine is suitably pale in colour and has a very vibrant, and very appealing nose, with plenty of zestiness but also a vivacious fruit salad character with juicy mango and peach to the fore. In the mouth there's a touch of confectionary tutti-frutti character, but that juicy peach dominates and the balance really is very good, a crisp citrus freshness leaving the finish dry and moreish. The price drops to £13.99 for a mix of six Sea Change wines.
(2020) Another stylish bottle for this blend of Syrah, Grenache and a little of the white variety, Rolle. Pale in colour, and an intense nose of lime peel, small red fruits and something quite mineral and concentrated, maybe melon skins. In the mouth again there is an impressive level of fruit concentration here, more intense and powerful than many Provence rosés, but it does not lack clarity or finesse, or fresh acidity. Very good. Price and stockist quoted at time of review is for the previous vintage.
(2020) From the renowed Morellino di Scansano producer Elisabetta Geppetti of Fattoria le Pupille, a rare Tuscan rosé, coming from the coastal Maremma, and made from 100% Syrah, some of the vines dating back to 1990. Another unusual aspect, is that 10% of the wine was aged in barrels of Acacia wood. The colour is a pale, but orangey-pink, the nose fragrant with small red berries, a hint of sweet blossom, and a little touch of peppery spice. In the mouth, it at first seems off-dry, perhaps there's a gramme or two of residual sugar, but that's soon swept up in the savoury berry fruitiness, lemony acidity and more of that lingering spice.
(2020) An unusual white, made from Pinot Noir given minimal skin contact, so it has the faintest tinge of copper to the colour. A lovely nose, with crispness and crunch, a touch of yeastiness and plenty of crunchy apple fruit, a touch of zesty orange. Nice mouthfeel, a little sweetness, but the freshness and lemony acidity comes through.
(2020) From an estate owned by Bernard Magrez, whose portfoilio of properties includes Pape Clément, this Côtes de Provence Rosé marches to quite a different beat, from vines averaging 41 years of age and with a stated alcohol of 14.5% abv. That translates into a wine that is neither overripe nor particularly deeply coloured, but which has an intrinsic subtle power and intensity. Good, elegant and lifted red fruit notes dominate, but the palate has a real mineral salts streak on acidity along with cleansing citrus, for a concentrated and slightly more serious take on the style.
No UK retail listing at time of review
(2020) A really very charming rosé this, pale in colour and extremely fresh and appetising. Equal proportions of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Tannat and local speciality Pinenc form 90% of the blend, along with 10% of the local white grape Petit Courbu. Viticulture is carried out according to phases of the moon, and the wine harvested in the early hours of the morning of a 'fruit day', according to the biodynamic calendar. There's a litghtly herbal note, stone fruit aromas and a mineral, slightly smoky sense, before tangy raspberry, grapefruit and passion fruit in the mouth, plenty of zesty acidity and a mouth-watering, dry finish.
(2020) From the Bordeaux vineyards of Chateau Surain, but designated as a Vin de France, so possibly the fruit coming from elsewhere, this is cool, fresh and dry, a nicely pitched savoury pink straddling lemony savoury qualities and small, firm red berry fruitiness, and really very nicely done.
(2020) Come hither charms for this soft, pulpy red-fruited Provence pink, aromas of strawberry sunde, sherbet and watermelon and an appealing, very easy drinking palate with balanced acidity and a gentle finish. No UK retail listing at time of review.
(2020) An absolutely delightful wine, predominatnly Syrah with 20% Mourvèdre and 10% of the white grape, Vermentino, it is made from a selection of the best grapes from their best vineyards near Aix-en-Provence. The Mourvèdre component sees barrel maturation. Such an explosively fruity nose, strawberry and burstingly ripe peach, flowers and a fine salty/earthy note too. In the mouth the fruit is decisive and keen, small redcurrant berries and raspberry, but that keen, mouth-watering edge of salts and lemon giving great thrust and decisive tension. Terrific rosé. No UK stockists at time of review.