Rosé Round-up: Summer 2021

My run down on a bunch of rosé wines available in the UK has become something of a summer fixture. In this second year of Covid restrictions, with no organised tastings to attend, I have still managed to put together a selection of 35 wines, sparkling and still. The pale Provençal style is still flavour of the month – from more or less everywhere on the planet – and while it shows no sign of abating, there’s no doubt that some wines made in homage to that style are more successful than others. That, I suspect, is as much down to the grapes used as the location of the vineyards, as some unlikely grape varieties are being coaxed and constrained to produce the lightness and colour. That is done very successfully in some cases, less so in others.

Sparkling Wines Under £20

(2021) Boschendal's Brut Rosé spends 12 months on the lees and has a dosage of 10g/l. It's around 70% Pinot Noir, with Chardonnay and around 10% Pinotage, with 20% reserve wines. Pale peachy-pink, aromas are delicately floral and fruity with just a hint of biscuit. Keen, fresh and perceptibly dry on the palate, the mix of small, tart berries and lemon gives a fresh if perhaps slightly lean character (the wine does not see malolactic), but it slips down well and finishes with a bit of tanginess for sure.
(2021) A blend here of 58% Pinot Noir and 42% Chardonnay, from a relatively young estate whose first vintage of this wine was 2007. It has 8.3g/l of sugar. Pale and peachy in colour, the nose is tight and mineral, with salts and small, underripe red berries as well as something gently herbal. The palate is sheer and elegant, taut with citrus and redcurrant, that stone, salty minerality pushing out the finish. Classy stuff.
(2021) We're in very light, raspberry-scented and relatively dry sparkling wine country here, with a Fairtrade-accredited wine from Chile made using one of the 'Criolla' historical grape varieties, País. It is made by the traditional method, but with a relatively short period on the lees so it's much more about fruit and freshness than any yeasty character. Nimble, with some rose-hip and refined red fruit, then good acid balance.
(2021) This Marlborough wine is made by the traditional method, and is 100% Pinot Noir bottled with a dosage of 9.8g/l after 18 months on the lees.  It is light and frothy and very much focused on red berries, with strawberry and raspberry, a touch of lemony character adding some edge. In the mouth it is also brightly focused, but the mousse adds some texture and richness before very good acidity offsets the dosage and naturally sweet fruit character into the finish.
(2021) This Pinot Noir-dominated blend is always well-made and appealing. They call the production method "Tasmanois", a cheeky avoidance of the 'C' word which is not allowed in such traditional method sparkling wines. Aged on the lees for 18 months, it has a dosage of 9.5g/l. Pale salmon pink in colour, there is both strawberry and crunchy red apple on the nose, though there is a hint of biscuity richness in there too. In the mouth it is quite full with a cushion of mousse and fruit-forward, mouth-filling flavour. It does have some nuances of herbs and flowers in there, but the fruit and good acid balance drive forward, into a pleasingly crisp finish.
(2021) A Syrah and Grenache blend, this is a delicately-coloured but vibrant pink with a light passion fruit and nectarine aroma, some raspberry too in a summery cocktail. The palate is very dry, a lovely lemon pith line of acidity giving this definite food-friendly appeal for most fish dishes or tapas perhaps, the fruit quite tart and elegant, just enough sweetness for delicious drinking too. £12 to Bee Club members.

Sparkling Wines Over £20

(2021) There is no Nicolas Courtin (or at least not one who has anything to do with this Champagne) as it is a brand name, exclusive to Majestic, as far as I can see. The wine has a fairly deep rosé colour for Champagne, and there is a nice biscuity quality that pink Champagne doesn't always show, and small red berry fruitiness: think cranberry and redcurrant. In the mouth a creamy mousse and plenty more depth of red fruits. There's a hint of sweetness to this Brut wine that makes it soft and easy to drink, so a pretty good choice all round if your Valentine's day requirement is for a pink fizz suitable for sipping on its own or with poached or smoked salmon perhaps. £16.99 as part of a mixed six is the price to be on for this one. Watch the video for more information.
(2021) Made from 100% Pinot Noir, this cuvée spent two years on the lees and has a dosage of 6.3g/l. It was disgorged on 6th August 2020. Very fine, pale peachy-pink, with small and moderately persistent bubbles, the nose offers plenty of summer-pudding fruits, almond creaminess but a nice tensioning element of bracken and briar. In the mouth lots of tart but also sweet raspberry and redcurrant, but the long lees-ageing adds a light biscuity layer beneath, and the acidity keeps it fresh and focused, dry but elegant on the finish.
(2021) Part of the secret here is from having low yields and very ripe grapes, a saignée of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Pinot Meunier. Dosage is 9g/l. Really fragrant, orange blossom character here, flowers and delicate small red berry fruit, dry cranberry notes and a little peach perhaps. The palate is sharply focused, something gently toasty and biscuity, but really racy and refined fruit, dancing and zesty across the palate, charming but dry in the finish.
(2021) Digby was founded by two business partners with a vision of setting up a very high-end négociant business: they do not own vineyards, but work with vineyards in different English areas. They have based their model partly on Californian sparkling wine producers who sell a "whole lifestyle experience," so really trying to engage with consumers with their brand, web site and their story, including a high street store in Arundel. Planted predominantly on greensand, this is 60% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Meunier with 20% of the Pinot component fermented in oak. The colour is a peachy pink, and aromas of orange and peach are underpinned by a little toast and spice. In the mouth sweet and ripe, but really nicely balanced, the crispness of the rosy apple acidity and fine mousse, a mellow undertow of vanilla, it is long and styish.
(2021) A blend of 54% Pinot Noir, 23% Pinot Meunier and 23% Chardonnay, there is only 4g/l of residual sugar in this incisive and dry English sparkling rosé. It's part barrel-fermented and is an 'assemblage', with a small percentage of still Pinot Noir added to the blend before secondary fermentation. After 24 months on the lees, the mousse is strong, and the nose has a real mineral, smoky, taut and small red berry-fruited appeal, a herbal streak only adds to the freshness. In the mouth that dry, mineral and flinty character continues, yes there is red fruit of raspberry and bitter lemon, good length and that racy, very grown-up acid character.
(2021) There are two main methods for producing pink sparkling wines, by blending red and white base wines together, or the one used here: saignée, where the colour comes from a short period of skin contact, colour leaching from the skins of black grapes. This is made from Pinots Noir and Meunier, and the skin contact also gives an unusual herbal, twiggy aspect to the aroma, as well as strawberry, sherbetty red fruit and floral notes. In the mouth I find a touch of green bitterness, which although there is plenty of creamy red fruit and fine acidity, just detracts a little.
(2021) This blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir is partially fermented in oak and spends a minimum of 24 months on the lees. It is Brut, and opens with a very fine sense of minerals and small, summer blossom aromas. The fruit is elegant, with raspberry and redcurrant. In the mouth the mousse is cushiony and rich, with rosy red apple and those fragrant summer fruit and floral notes, ending with some richness but very good clarity, a pleasing touch of mouth-watering bitterness. A delicious, elegant and successful style. £56 for a magnum from Tannico.
(2021) Henriot's rosé is 50% Pinot Noir grapes from the Montagne de Reims, with 40% Chardonnay and a 10% Pinot Meunier. Reserve wines make up 35% of the blend, which spent three years on the lees and has 9g/l dosage. The colour is a medium-pale bronze/peach, with aromas of small red berries, and a touch of biscuit. In the mouth the mousse is cushiony and rich, but the zestiness of the acidity gives good energy to the wine, the soft fruity character also making it approachable and easy to drink.

Still Wines Under £12

(2021) A successful Provence style this, from the Southwest of France using local varieties Pinenc and Tannat, as well as the two Cabernets. Small redcurrant fruits and orange on the nose, onto a palate that is limey and fresh, again a little firm red fruit character, but stylish and long, if arguably lacking the final energising shot of typical Provence acidity.
(2021) Quite a distinctive peach tone to the colour of this certified organic rosé, a blend of Tannat, Pinenc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Small redcurrant aromas are joined by a little pomegranate, before a palate that is bone dry, again focused on those smaller red berries - redcurrants and raspberry - with plenty of pithy, sour orange and lemon acidity.
(2021) Cherry, lipstick and red liquorice aromas in this relatively deep pink wine, a touch of tanky pear drop. Onto the just off-dry palate, well-tempered raspberry and small red berry fruits, the texture is nicely medium-bodied and the balance of acidity and fruit is good. No heather will be set on fire, but summery and quaffable. Available early May (tbc)
(2021) A pale peachy-pink, the main advantage Torres wine has over some of the other Spanish attempts at this style are the grapes used: Carignan and Grenache, two of the mainstays of Provence wines too. Very light, very commercially appealing raspberry and rose-hip aromas, a little bit watercolour paintbox, then a palate that has some sweetness and possibly a touch of residual sugar, but plenty of lemony acidity keeps that in check. It is light-bodied and arguably a touch dilute even for a rosé, but flavours and balance are good.
(2021) The first of two wines from Ribera del Duero producer Protos, from their brand new rosé-dedicated winery in higher altitude Cigales is a bright, very pale pink blend of Grenache and Tempranillo. It opens with confectionery and pear-drop notes, before a palate that also feels a touch too confected for comfort: jammy strawberry and decent acidity adds up to a quaffable but not distinguished drink that feels to me to be rather too 'manufactured' for commerical appeal. No UK stockist listed at time of review.
(2021) No UK listing as yet for this second offering from Protos's new rosé project, which is very, very different from the 'Aire de Protos' in colour, a deep cherry pink to light-red. Made mostly from Tempranillo, there's lots of bubblegum and raspberry on the nose here, much more obvious red fruit character, though still a little tanky pear-drop too. The palate is sweet and creamy, with a dollop of residual sugar I think. I find this just a touch cloying, though there is acidity and generally good balance as well as plenty of flavour.
(2021) I think it's fair to say that rose Rioja would once have been much deeper in colour, but like so many others this follows the Provencal path, pale and peachy pink, a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Tempranillo. There's a light yeastiness and creaminess over quite understated, lemony aromas. On the palate there is ripe, sweet fruit, as much about melon and citrus as red fruits, the 14% alcohol quite noticeable, but a bright finish a there is good fruit here.
(2021) I've tasted most vintages of this Riojan pink over the past six years or so and I'd say this is the best yet. 85% Garnacha (Grenache) and 15% Viura from higher altitude vineyards, it is a very pale pink and offers fresh floral notes, a little strawberry and feshly-sliced pear. On the palate 12.5% abv gives it a light, elegant character with very well-balanced acidity.
(2021) Logically enough perhaps, a pink wine made from Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir and made in stainless steel. No UK stockists at time of review. A confectionary, cherry-lips nose, all bright fruit and icing sugar, a little creaminess in the background. In the mouth it is sweet, but that's mostly fruit rather than residual sugar, a smooth strawberry shortcake charm, with only moderate acidity so it finishes smooth, easy and relatively broad.
(2021) From Villány, one of the production areas for the historic 'Bull's Blood' wine, this is a blend of 70% Kékfrankos with Syrah. Deeper in colour and a little sweeter than your average Provençal pink, this has some strawberry and reducrrant on the nose, and a little bubblegum character, though overall it is fruity and appealing. The residual sugar (less than 5g/l) is apparent on the palate alongside naturally sweet fruit, and lively, really quite crisp acidity tightens up the finish.  
(2021) Well, I loved this rosé in my big tasting of 2021's pinks I must say, made from 100% Gamay and from Beaujolais. Yes, it is fashionably Provence pale, but feels totally un-contrived unlike some. The vineyards are cultivated under the 'Terra Vitis' biological system (close to organic with a few allowances), and the wine opens with great succulence and delicacy: rose-hip, summer blossom and peach down are the notes, leading on to a palate where a zesty lemon acidity ensures a dry finish, but that's after the small redcurrant and peach fruit charms the mid-palate. A really lovely rosé this, great value for money, and one of my favourites of my extensive pink wine tasting. Watch the video for more information.
(2021) The Society's first Provence rosé in the Exhibition range blends Cinsault and Grenache with a a little Syra. Very pale peach pink, it is perfumed with mineral salts, fowers and rose-hips, gentle summer berry fruit.In the mouth it is dry and delicate. There's enough peachiness to the fruit, a little strawberry, to make it very easy-going but the oranges and lemons acid really is well-judged. It's workaday bottle lacks the appeal of the fancy £15 and £20 brands, but the stuff inside is really very nice.

Still Wines Over £12

(2021) Seven Springs rosé is 100% Syrah, and opens with strawberries and cream in abundance, a light herbal note and some floral, violet nuances. In the mouth there is more cream, both flavour and texture, with a light smokiness and plenty of pulp red fruit charm. A lovely sun-kissed rosé.
(2021) From a unique Provence terroir on the Trévaresse volcano, winemaker Michel Fabre has made this wine from vineyards grown on soils composed of black rock, basalt and clay-limestone. The blend is Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, and the nose has a distinct floral lift, plenty of rose and violet, and a peach and passion fruit. There'salso a flinty touch that's quite Chablis-like somewhere in the mix. The palate is dry and vividly fruity, watermelon and pomegranate, with very food acidity that does show a mineral sense of the volcanic soils. No UK stockists listed at time of review.
(2021) This West Sussex rosé is made from Pinot Noir, and is the first pink released by this family-owned single estate vineyard. Their own vineyard was planted only in 2019, so I presume this is made from purchased fruit. Pale and Provençal, it has a lovely lifted floral nose, peach down and rose-hips, a litte watermelon note too. In the mouth there appears to be a touch of sweetness, but the fruit here is summery and elegant, very much in the strawberries and cream spectrum, and crucially it has perfectly pitched balancing acidity. A really charming English rosé.
(2021) Slightly deeper in colour than the Cuvée l’Excellence, do you want to know the cepage? OK, deep breath: Grenache 40%, Cinsault 20%, Syrah 15%, Tibouren 10%, Mourvèdre 5%, Cabernet-Sauvignon 3%, Carignan 3% and Rolle (a white variety) 3%. Fresh and red-berried on the nose, there is that hint of passion fruit, but more on strawberry pulp and lightly grassy raspberry too. The palate is creamy and summer pudding-like, with plenty of sweet berries and cream, though the grapefruity tang of the acidity is nicely placed here, cleansing and elongating the finish.
(2021) Mellot suggest not chilling this too much and I can understand that: the Pinot Noir character is quite strong, and a light chill wirks well. Rose-hip and cherry aromas lead on to a certain creaminess on the palate, relatively robust red fruits and super clean freshness from the lemon-fresh acidity and the touch of saline minerality.
(2021) A typically pale and attractive, peachy Provence, a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, Rolle and Clairette, from limestone and clay soils. The nose is attractively fruity and welcoming; a strawberry sundae character, with a tiny hint of leafy herbs. In the mouth there is abundant peaches and cream sweetness, more of that strawberry summer fruits character and nice texture as well as balancing acidity. Part of the Chapoutier Selection, it is very nicely done. Please note: price and stockist quoted at time of review is for the previous vintage.
(2021) A blend here of 58% Pinot Noir and 42% Chardonnay, from a relatively young estate whose first vintage of this wine was 2007. It has 8.3g/l of sugar. Pale and peachy in colour, the nose is tight and mineral, with salts and small, underripe red berries as well as something gently herbal. The palate is sheer and elegant, taut with citrus and redcurrant, that stone, salty minerality pushing out the finish. Classy stuff.
(2021) A blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Tibouren, Carignan and Rolle, this is Saint-Maur's top cuvée, even paler than the regular Côte de Provence rosé, and very aromatic. There's even a touch of elderflower and passionfruit here among the pretty red berry fruit notes, and a sense of something more taut and mineral. In the mouth it bursts with sweet, ripe fruit, but there's a tart, mouth-watering character too with citrus and salts balancing into the finish. Quite powerful and concentrated too, it nicely straddles prettiness and power.
(2021) Partially barrel fermented in large oak barrels, Rock Angel is made from Grenache, Cinsault and Rolle. A slightly deeper, peachier colour than the other wines tasted here, and a peachier fruit character too: aromatically some floral character, orange and that peach down softness. There's substance on the palate here: yes, there is charming stone fruit and light strawberry character, but a bit of grip too, the barrel component, keen acidity and a touch of tannin even giving real gastronomic credentials. For me the (comparatively) meatiest of the Esclans line-up, but just delicious.
(2021) This is Esclans estate wine, no cuvée name except 'Château d’Esclans', made from Grenache and Rolle, partly vinified in demi-muids (600-litre big barrels). There's a white peppery, stony character here, taut with lemon zest and cool Asian pear fruit aromas, the oak transparent. In the mouth the texture is creamy (the barrel ageing and lees stirring no doubt helping with that) and the fruit is bright, a little red apple but mostly a dry redcurrant, a hint of peach, then zipping, saline acidity to extend the finish.
(2021) Pale peach in colour, this 2020 wine very youthful with some pear drop character that will subside, a little cherry note and soft red berry fruits. On the palate Whispering Angel's trademark combination of elegant, cool precision with very easy-going, open and attractive fruitiness. Nicely textured, the raspberry fruit and edge of acidity is ripe but bone dry,  and there's a hint of stony minerality adding to the sophistication of the finish.
(2021) The blend here is old vine Grenache, Vermentino and Syrah, a selection of fruit, with fermentation and 10 months ageing in 600-litre barrels, new and second use. It immediately gives an impression of cool precision on the nose, a little lemon and lemon bon-bon note, yes some small, taut red berries, but intense, salty and mineral like a slatey dry Riesling in some ways, the oak more or less imperceptable in the aroma. In the mouth there's a sweetness to the fruit, a little dusting of icing sugar over frozen red berries, just giving up their juiciness, but again this is ultra-cool and elegant. The oak adds a creaminess, as much to the texture as the flavour, and the poise and effortless elegance extends and clarifies into a long, long finish. Superb, and though different from Garrus, for me giving more or less equal pleasure.
(2021) Garrus is made from a single vineyard of nearly 100 year-old Grenache vines, blended with a little Rolle (Vermentino), and fermented in new and second-use French oak barrels of 600-litres, where it is aged for a further 10 months with batonnage. The colour is still delicate and appealing, but the nose is intriguing: the herbs and light floral and summer fruit scents are there, but it seems deeper, it seems as though it is a rosé that is holding something in reserve and not putting it all there from the start. In the mouth it is bone dry, and though there's a hint of passion fruit and even mango, that is soon tempered and calmed by a serious bit of structure, salts and lemon acids yes, but also an intensity of small red berries from cranberry to redcurrant, the concentration seeming to build in the mouth. It's a wine that plays mind-games with you, seeming like a typically fresh, floral and herb-strewn Provence pink one minute, perhaps a delicate and feminine Pinot Noir the next, and yet with the texture and balance of a fine white wine. Truly something exceptional and will cellar positively too.

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