In time for flaming June, should it ever catch fire, ‘posh pinks’ was the subject of the premium rosé tasting organised this month by Richard Bampfield MW and Château Brown. 36 pink wines were tasted blind and decanted into clear label-less bottles so no-one could tell what was what from the bottle shape. The only visual identifying feature was the colour, and for anyone who thinks that rosé simply means pink, even a Dulux colour chart wouldn’t do justice to the nearly 50 shades of pink on offer.
The origin was global although with 26 from France including 14 from Provence, French rosé was the focus compared to the last such tasting I attended two years ago. Given the posh in the title, most of the wines were prices between £12 and £25 with a small handful in la-la land. That may be expensive if your experience of rosé is of cheap, bland and sugary blush purveyed by the likes of California’s Blossom Hill and Echo Falls.
Premium rosé is meant to be a serious wine however that can stand alongside any fine white or red counterpart. It’s a wine in which the winemaker has generally given priority to the management of the grapes in the vineyard and the blending in the cellar. With lower yields than mass market rosé and in a dry style that makes them so much more refreshing as drinks in their own right, such rosés also come into their own with salads such as Niçoise, fish, charcuterie, chicken and pork.
The quality of the Provence rosés stood out. Expensive but not quite bank-busting, the juicy cranberry fruit of the 2014 Whispering Angel, £16.99, Waitrose, was alluring, along with the scented berry fruit of Brangelina’s 2014 Miraval, £17.99, Majestic and the approachable strawberry fruits of the 2014 Domaine des Diables Bonbon, £13.95, Lea & Sandeman. Bandol came up with two charmingly delicate berry fruity rosés in the 2013 Domaine de Terrebrune, £22, The Good Wine Shop, and the 2014 Château Pibarnon Rosé, £22.58, Exel Wines.
Languedoc too had its pink moments, notably in the fresh apple and pear fruit of the 2014 Chêne Bleu, £17.99, Waitrose, and the raspberryish juiciness of Gérard Bertrand’s 2014 Château la Sauvageonne, £12.99, Majestic. Outside France, my favourite was the appetisingly fresh 2014 Niepoort Redoma Rosé, £13.99 – £15, Corks of Cotham, Highbury Vintners. If you really want to push the boat out, you could always try Domaines Sacha Lichine’s smokily complex 2013 Les Clans, £59.40, Hedonism, and if you have a big enough fridge, a double magnum of Domaine Ott’s 2014 Clos Mireille, £300, Hedonism, would win friends and influence people.
Top of the Pinks as ranked by the assembled press tasters:
2014 Ch Léoube Rosé de Léoube
2014 MIP Domaine Sainte Lucie
2014 Chêne Bleu Vaucluse
2014 Ch D’Esclans Rock Angel
2014 Whispering Angel
2014 Secret de Léoube
2014 Château Léoube La Londe
2014 Château Ste Marguerite Cuvée Symphonie
2014 Château La Sauvageonne Languedoc, Gerard Bertrand
2014 Domaine Tempier Bandol
2014 Château Brown, Bordeaux
2014 Domaines Ott Provence
2013 Les Clans (Lichine)
2014 Miraval, Provence