Rosé Roundup 2018

For several years now I have published a roundup of rosé wines in time for summer drinking. The first thing to say is that this selection of over 40 wines is not intended to be comprehensive, and there are many fine rosés and rosé producing countries that do not feature. It is simply my gathering of the many rosés I’ve tasted in the past month or two.

BMI Research published a report last year titled “Rosé Revolution More Than Just A Fad,” which pointed out that 2016 was another record year for exports of wine from France’s Provence region – the largest producer of rosé wine globally.

Pale and pretty Provence

sales of provence rose in the USFrench customs data shows that trend has continued, particularly in the USA: In 2017 the US accounted for 43% of Provence rosé’s entire export market, with phenomenal growth over the past decade.

provence leading export marketsThe UK is still the second largest importer of Provence rosé, with a 29% increase between 2015 and 2016. But the chart left shows we are no alone: these are the countries importing in excess of 10,000 hectolitres – around 1.4 million bottles – in 2017, compared to 2008.

Judging by this sample of 40-odd wines, from 10 different countries, the very pale, dry style of Provence rosé continues to drive this sector – and continues to be mimicked by rosé producers around the world. Deeply coloured pink wines are becoming more and more scarce, even from regions where that style would once have been the norm

The kosher selection

Interestingly for this year, I have been able to include a dozen kosher rosés, having been contacted by Kedem Europe, producer and distributor of kosher wines from  Israel and elsewhere. To be considered kosher, only Sabbath-observant Jews should handle the wine during production and even after bottling. Sometimes the wine is pasteurized before bottling, so becomes ‘Mevushal’, meaning non-Jews or non-observant Jews can handle it and it still retains its kosher accreditation.

Update – five more wines

Meiklang Prosa
As always seems to happen, a clutch of interesting rosés arrived with me just after I published this article on July 4th. So two weeks later, the first batch of five wines reviewed below have been added to update this year’s rosé round-up.

That takes the total number of wines reviewed to over 40, and adds in two new countries too, in the shape of Austria and Greece.

(2018) A low alcohol blend of Zweigelt, Pinot Noir, St Laurent and Blaufränkisch, I guess this would count as a 'Pet Nat', a trendy new term for gently sparkling 'natural' wines and this has the credentials: biodynamic, closed with a beer bottle crown-cap and with only 10.5% alcohol. It is only gently effervescent, the colour lovely ruby/pomegranate red, with delicate strawberries and cream aromas. In the mouth the frizzante style gives a lively edge to crisp and flavourful red berry fruit, a hint of sweetness swept up in lovely, clear apple core dry acidity. Delightful.
(2018) A blend of Grenache and Cinsault, and clearly mimicking the Provence style, this is a Vin de France, the classification that allows cross-regional blending of grapes. Pale and fairly neutral in aroma, there's a delicate, light peach and red fruit quality and a fairly obvious dollop of residual sugar. There's a sense of this being a very 'made' wine, but the recipe is successful enough to justify the £6.99 'mixed six' price in Majestic if it sounds like your cup of tea.
(2018) From the Languedoc, Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, Merlot and Mourvèdre in the mix for a medium-pale rosé, with a fairly simple and straightforward strawberry and raspberry fruit, the palate fruity and generous, a little briary leafiness and a slightly astringent quality to the acidity stopping it a little short, but keeping it fresh.
(2018) From the traditional rosé stronghold of Tavel, very close to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this is a deeply-coloured and quite serious pink made from Grenache and Syrah that’s so unlike the in-vogue pale Provençal style, yet is quite marvellous: crammed with cherry and ripe red berries, there’s a creaminess to the flavour and texture and the little nip of tannin and focused acidity give it structure and length too. Excellent with an Italian fennel sausage casserole perhaps? On offer at time of review for £11.75.
(2018) From the super-impressive Alpha Estate in Greek Macedonia, this has the delicate Provençal colour and character, spices, small hard red berries and a touch of watermelon. Made by running off some juice from the red wine cuvée,  'Hedgehog', after two hours in the press, it has a nice salty mineral freshness. Long and nicely done.

The Wines

rose wine roundup 2018

Sparkling wines

(2018) An interesting wine, produced by négociant Pierre Chavin, it is organically certified and made, so Lidl informs me, from 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir by the charmat or tank method. It is Brut but tastes sweeter, and is crammed with soft, pulpy strawberries and berries, perhaps a lower pressure than most sparkling wines too, adding to the mouth-filling richness of easy-drinking fruit, but balanced and very summery.
(2018) Made from Muscat, Glera and Brachetto, this is an off-dry fizz with only 8% alcohol, so in the same idiom as the Asti from Martini. There's an added strawberry character joining the icing sugar and lemony fruit, the pale pink colour is appealing and it slips down very easily in a summer-in-the-garden style.
(2018) Another easy-drinking and deliciously summery sparkling wine from Martini, this time a rosé that is just off dry perhaps, but really drinks softly rather than sweetly. There's good acid to balance and a delicate rose-hip, peach and cherry flavour, pleasant and not too aggressive mousse, and balanced to provide lots of simple drinking pleasure for picnics and summer in the garden.
(2018) The team behind Mirabeau explain that they created this, their first commercially available sparkling wine, at the request of Waitrose, and experimented with the traditional method (with second fermentation in individual bottles) but in the end chose the charmat or tank method, as used in Prosecco, to make a fresher and fruitier style of fizz. This blend of Syrah and Grenache is really successful of its style, only gently sparkling and with some residual sugar to give a sweetness that matches its charming summer pudding berries and floral profile, so delicate and quaffable for summer in the garden, and of excellent quality. Watch the video for food matching suggestions and more information.
(2018) Since I last reviewed this wine it has gained 'Fairtrade' accreditation, but is still 100% País, a local variety, and made by the traditional method with nine months lees-ageing in bottle. A pretty vibrant pink, it's all charming raspberry and summer-pudding fruits on the nose, with a crisp and easy-drinking palate, similar in style overall to a quality Prosecco with its lightness, freshness and touch of residual sugar to ensure quaffability.
(2018) An interesting and perhaps surprising new wine in the extensive Caves d'Esclans line-up, the subtle elegance of thier usual packaging his gone a bit tropical in this blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, which has a marginally deeper colour than the regular Whispering Angel bottling, and a little more ripe upfront fruit, even a whiff of banana before small red berry fruit. Dry and elegant in the finish, it is certainly distinct from the pale minerality of the Whispering Angel, but very good.
(2018) A truly charming rosé this, 100% Pinot Noir made by the saignée method, Toni has reduced the time on lees from 24 to 12 months as he thought it retained freshness and lightness. It has 8g/l dosage. Toni also chooses to make quite a deeply-coloured wine, "as that is its natural colour." This has strawberry and a touch of clove or almost Negroni character, lovely freshness and raspberry and lemon clarity to the palate, finishing long and dry.
(2018) I rather liked this blend of elderflower with blackberries, rhubarb, and strawberries, with second fermentation in bottle a la Champagne.The pale colour and small bubbles are attractive, and the nose is not too sweet and not too elderflowery, the dry rhubarb and cranberry character and modest yeastiness the main players. On the palate it is dry, perhaps even a touch astringent, but that gives it a bit of sour and savoury grip against the berry fruits that are a little more obvious in the mouth. Stylish.
(2018) Made from Touriga Franca, this spends 16 months on the lees and has a dosage of 9g/l. A very pale salmon-to-peachy pink, the nose shows really nice bready, pastry-like autolysis due to that considerable time on the lees, and the sweetness as it strikes the palate is abundant: the dosage is moderate but clearly the ripeness of the fruit shines through. There's a nice twist of endive bittersweetness, the crisp mousse and lovely citrus freshness of the acidity giving it great freshness and agility. I really enjoyed this quaffable but finely tuned sparkling rosé very much
(2018) Made with Bramley, Cox's and Russet apples from the estate, just like the white Sparkling Apple Wine, but with the addition of strawberry and blackcurrant, mostly for colour I suspect as the flavours are resolutely appley. There is a hint of extra strawberry sweetness perhaps, but the sharp apple acidity ensures this finishes feeling dry and fresh. Equally enjoyable as its white partner, and lovely summer drink with 8% alcohol.
(2018) Shop around for this wine, as it is widely available and at time of review prices ranged from a promotional £25.00 to well over £30.00 in different stores. It's a crisp, relatively straightforward rosé, just a touch of Chardonnay blended with the two Pinots. Small red berries- redcurrant and raspberry - notes, dry onto the palate, the mousse crisp and fine, and although forward and crowd-pleasing in its straightforward way, there is a good acid core and decent length. A good buy at the promotional price.
(2018) Still one of the stars of their line-up, the vintage rosé first brought Hush Heath to the wine world's attention, and this 2013 was tasting really good: delicate aromas of small summer berries, just a touch of pastry-like creaminess, but fresh and inviting with its pale, light colour. In the mouth the mousse is fine and persistent, and that dry redcurrant fruitiness fills the mid-palate, and stylish lemon and lime acidity extending the finish. A blend of 44% Pinot Noir, 48% Chardonnay and 8% Pinot Meunier aged three years on the lees.
(2018) From a 2015 base, with 2013 and 2014 reserves, 55% is Chardonnay from Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, 38.5% Pinot Noir from Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, the assemblage made with 6.5% oak-aged Pinot Noir red wine from the 2014 vintage, and also from Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. This was fermented in stainless steel with a dosage of 6.5 g/l. A certain ripe, juiciness of Chardonnay dominates this release, yet underneath the lush fruit is a lurking complexity of fine, summer berries.  A light rosé style, made using the “assemblage" method, it is eminently drinkable, with surprisingly versatility at the table.  Drink: 2018-2020, when it has the potential to score 90/100.
(2018) Composed of 50% Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims, a proportion of which was vinified as a red wine, then blended with 40% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Meunier, this is aged on the lees for three years. It has a bold and relatively deep pink colour, and a lovely nose of wafting summer berries but with a little Pinot quality of sweer earth and lightly balsamic notes. In the mouth it is a substantial and fruity Champagne, a touch of creaminess, but has a fine core of acidity that shimmers through to the finish.

Still wines

(2018) Composed of 70% Castelão and 30% Aragonês, two grapes typical of the Península de Setúbal in Portugal, this is a dry and perfectly quaffable summer pink at a very good price. With only 10% alcohol the grapes have obviously been picked early to retain good acidity and freshness, but there is a summery red berry fruit and a hint of tobacco and dried herbs, finishing with a nice balance between strawberry sweetness and citrus acidity.
(2018) The 6.2g/l of residual sugar in this grenache pink from Torres does not make itslef felt as obvious sweetness. Relatively pale pecahy-pink, the nose is dry and Provençal in style, a little flowers or herbs and small red fruits, a touch of citrus. In the mouth good sweetness of fruit, but the acidity cleanses and persists, so the finish feels dry and moreish.
(2017) What a thoroughly lovely Bordeaux pink this is, a delicate blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot made in a pale, Provence style, picked early so there is a zip and zing to the red fruits and the acidity, little watermelon and pomegranate notes mixing with redcurrants, before a free-flowing palate with just a bite of tannin to add a savoury edge, and a crisply defined finish.
(2018) A lovely blend of 60% Grenache with Syrah from vineyards at 300-400m altitude, planted on clay and limestone soils, this is a most delicate and dry rosé, passion fruit and watermelon aromas touching into the tropical, a saline hint in the background. In the mouth that sweep of peach and grapefruit fresh but full fruit meets more delicate rose-hip, a lovely tart acid background pushing out the finish to a fine point.
(2018) Made from Syrah (60%), with Grenache (35%) and Cinsault (5%), this is more robustly fruity than the 'Pure' bottling, but that's not to say it is in any way clumsy or crude. Very pale in colour, tha aromas are of lychee and raspberry, clearly more fruity than the Pure, but with a sense of breezy freshness too. On the palate the limey acid core is excellent, in a dry wine that frames the summer berry fruits with citrus, an ozoney lick of salty mineral character adding some grip in a slightly nore powerful, but delightful pink.
(2018) From the same vineyards as 'Pure' this elegantly packaged, pale wine is also a similar blend so presumably a selection of the better plots or tanks. There's a delightful icing sugar-dusted confectionery character, fruity and fresh, with a hint of raspberry and small whitecurrants. In the mouth it's pretty much bone dry again, and once more has that saline lick to the lemony acidity, the fruit quite savoury but hinting at peach and rosy red apple. Handsomely packaged, it's another lovely and delicate wine.
(2018) Though the name of the estate sounds like a not so subtle cash-in on Provence, in fact domaine de la Provenquière traces its history back almost 500 years in it's corner of the Languedoc close to Béziers. Having said that, this certainly has Provençal leanings, pale in colour, dry and fresh with only 12% alcohol, though made from the pink-skinned Pinot Gris rather than Provençal varieties. Summer berries, fragrant lemon peel and a little wisp of peach on the nose, then a dry, chalky palate with pleasingly sweet fruit, medium body and then plenty of tangy acid. Daily Drinker club members will pay £9.00 for this.
(2018) From an estate in Côtes de Provence, a typically pale and restrained rosé, watermellon and redcurrant aromas, a touch of zesty lemon. In the mouth it is dry and tangy, a touch of tangerine or bitter orange against the light red fruits and fresh citrus and salt acidity. Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault is the blend.
(2018) There's something just a bit too confected about this 12% alcohol pink from Hawke's Bay. Varieties are unidentified, but the blend of slightly sweet fruit and slightly green acidity isn't entirely successful, though well-chilled it is probably an acceptable quaffer.
(2018) Goose Bay is the label under which Spencer Hill releases its kosher wines, this rosé pouring one of the darkest pink/reds of this tasting. Strawberries and cream on the nose, with a touch of Pinot sweet damp earthiness, and a dollop of residual sugar to flatter the palate. It's a slightly heavier style, and fairly straightforward, but will suit those who like a bit of oomph and don't mind a bit of sweetness in their rosés.
(2018) A Côtes de Provence rosé from certified organic vineyards, this is the kosher version of this wine, a pale, peach-tinged wines made from a whole bunch of varieties: Cinsault, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Carignan, Tibouren and Mourvèdre. Perfumed nose with a touch of watermelon and pomegranate, the palate is cool and precise, very dry, and whilst I'd wish for just a touch more fruitiness to offset the acidity, a very elegant wine. Stockist quoted is not necessarily for the kosher version of this wine.
(2018) A blend of 60% Merlot, 22% Malbec and 18% Cabernet Franc from high-density vineyards planted at 700 metres altitude, west of Jerusalem. Pale salmon pink, a little bit of reductive sulphur character has to be swirled away, to reveal a quite delicate and definitely cool fruit character, and a racy palate with bright and dry acidity and some small red berry fruitiness. Once past that reduction this is really rather a nice wine, but the £30 price tag is harder to swallow than the stuff in the bottle perhaps.
(2018) A very attractive bottle for this wine, a lacey rose pattern screen printed in white over the pale pink/peach wines is very attractive. And so is the stuff inside: a blend of Provençal varieties, gently floral with small firm red berry fruits, good acidity and a long finish with pert acidity giving it a brisk and savoury appeal whilst still being fruit-forward.
(2018) A blend of 80% Grenache and Viura, visuallu this could pass for a slightly fuller-coloured Provence style, certainly much paler than a 'typical' Spanish rosado. It has pretty, cool fruits on the nose, a little warming hint of tobacco, and it is appealing. In the mouth it seems rather sweet, perhaps a touch of residual sugar, and whilst fresh and easy to drink, length is moderate and that sweetness needs just a touch more acidity to balance.
(2018) From the Judean Hills in Israel, a kosher wine made from 100% Cabernet Franc grown at 650 metres altitude. A pale- to medium salmon pink, the nose here is lovely, crammed with crushed rasperberry and redcurrant, rose-hip and tiny floral notes. In the mouth it is bursting with fruit, a peachy sweetness cut by a tang of grapefruit to the acidity. Long and beautifully tangy and fresh.  No UK stockist for this 2017 vintage at time of review, so stockist for an earlier vintage shown.
(2018) A blend of Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from mountain vineyards at 700 metres close to Jerusalem, this kosher wine has a medium salmon colour, and a dry, cranberry and redcurrant fruit character aromatically. In the mouth it is balanced by good acidity, but perhaps lacks the finesse of the best examples here.
(2018) A wine that always makes me smile because it is so resolutely unfashionable in colour, a deep magenta/red that's easily the darkest of all the wines tasted here. Cabernet is evident on the nose, both blackcurrant and a touch of something herbaceous, before a full, sweet and creamy palate, some residual sugar softening the edges. Not a style I could drink a lot of, but chunky enough for a chile con carne or some beef empenadas.
(2018) Another typically pale and pretty Provence pink, a blend of Syrah, Grenach and Cinsault. Aromatically refined, with citrus and small red berries, there is really nice, dry fruit on the palate, and that fresh and appetising Provence length and saling touch in the finish. This is the kosher bottling of this wine, and the problem again is the price quoted by the only UK stockist I can find: a very good Provence rosé, but £30 seems way too much basically.
(2018) Under the same ownership as Château Roubine, this is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah from the Côtes de Provence, and was one of my favourites in a big rosé tasting, and is also a kosher wine. Refined, perfumed, with a peachy tone to the fruit and pale in colour, the palate is bone-dry without any austerity, the pretty red berries and watermelon freshness seeing to that, with a zinging lemon zest acidity. Kosherwinesuk also sell this at £161.89 per dozen, giving a bottle price of £13.49. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas.
(2018) This rosé is a 'Vin de France', so the Merlot fruit could have come from anywhere, presumably at least some from Bordeaux where the Rothschild brands are based. It has plenty of warming red berries, a fashionably pale colour and a gentle touch of honeysuckle. I found the acidity just a little lemony and tart for my personal rosé taste.
(2018) Composed of 67% Grenache, along with 30% Mourvèdre and 3% Viognier, this rosé comes from vineyards around the Yatir forest in the Judean Hills, and is a kosher wine. Fairly deep pink in colour, aromas are quite delicate, a touch of cherry bubble-gum, then a drier, lightly earthy and small red berry fruit. Very nice fruit in the mouth, with that dry juiciness of cranberries, a hint of sweetness, and a long finish. Rather expensive compared to some better value wines here, but very good. £22.49 if bought by the case.
(2018) A classic Provence blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, the packaging is striking and appealing - especially in the glorious magnum size I tasted for this review. Note the £26.99 price quoted is for a magnum (150cl) in Majestic. As part of a mixed six, the price falls to £23.99. Also in bottle at £15.95 from Saxtys and others. It's a lovely pale salmon pink wine with floral and peach down and icing sugar aromas, as well as a cherry freshness. In the mouth lovely fruit and plenty of crisp acidity, both soft and fruity and fresh in the finish.

5 comments

  1. Hi Tom, Thank you for reviewing some Israeli wines and also the Chateaux Roubine kosher cuvee. I suspect I am one of very few participants in Wine-Pages who drinks Israeli and kosher wine regularly. We drink the Castel and Flam at home and also rose new in the market this year from Domaine Seror, situated on the Golan, which is our current favourite. You addressed a very real problem for Israeli wine (kosher or not: there are many that are not kosher) and that is the cost. Israeli wine quality is getting better and better but until prices go down they will always be a minority interest for wine drinkers unless they are strictly religiously observant and can only drink kosher wine.

    1. Many thanks for your comments Jonathan, and I agree totally: I was very impressed by the Israeli wines overall, but tasting them alongside the non-kosher Provence examples made things tough: quality was similar, but the Israeli kosher wines routinely cost 50% or 60% more. I guess cost of production in Israel is higher, but also the extra measures needed to make the wines kosher?

  2. Hi Tom, Great reviews, thank you. We’ve been drinking very pale ‘Provence’ Rose for many years (when the sun shines) and managed to ‘convert’ lots of friends. Sadly, as it becomes more popular/fashionable, the price rises, rather like Picpoul!!
    Whilst not strictly from Provence, I’d be interested in your thoughts on a very inexpensive Vin de France Rose – La Belle Angele from Majestic – £6.99 mixed sixes or £3.99 in Majestic Calais. To my mind, ideal in the current very hot weather and great value?

    1. Many thanks Richard, and yes, the price is creeping up thanks, I guess, to the global demand. Not that many examples at around the £9 – £10 mark where the were just a couple of years ago. Speaking of which: I have just been asked if I’d review the Belle Angele rose and sauvignon blanc and have agree to take samples of them, so I will add the rose review to this feature later this week hopefully. However, not quite at the bargain price you are buying it for in Calais 🙂

    2. Now had a chance to taste it Richard, and at £3.99 it would be a superb buy. At the list price in Majestic of £8.99 I’m not so sure, so one to pick up in this country when it’s on offer – which I suspect it will be regularly 🙂

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