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La Vie en Rosé

It’s funny how a bit of sunshine hits, and suddenly we see the world through rose tinted glasses. As a wine merchant, the first glimpse of summer and we see sales of rosé suddenly go through the roof. Sadly, the rest of the year, we tend to see pink wine as being an inferior creation as a result of an incestuous relationship between red and white grapes (which is of course, not usually the case!). In fact, Rosé is thought to be one of the oldest styles of wine. Certainly we'd agree that pink wine is not to be snubbed, and ought to be treated with the dignity and respect of a wine of such age.

How is rosé made?

There are a number of ways in which rosé wine can be made, the most popular method being the skin contact method. The pressed red grapes are left in the vat with the juice just long enough to impart some colour into the juice, usually overnight, before the skins are removed and the fermentation continues without them. Some rosés are made as a by-product of making an intense red wine, where some of the pink must is removed before the winemaking is complete, leaving a more concentrated red wine, and separate pink liquid which can go on to make rosé. The only place where it is common to find rosé made from a blend of red and white wine is Champagne, where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the most common grape varieties.

Are all rosés sweet?

Absolutely not. Provence is renowned for its pale, dry rosés which are extremely refreshing and exceptional with local cuisine such as bouillabaisse and other garlicky mediterranean cuisine. England is now producing some fantastic pink wines which tend to be equally dry and crisp. You can also find fuller bodied, ‘winter’ rosés, particularly in the southern regions of Italy, which have a prolonged skin contact, and therefore more depth and colour. White Zinfandel is perhaps the most famous (or infamous) of all the sweet rosés, made by halting the fermentation of a red Zinfandel wine while the colour is still pink and there is still a discernible quantity of sugar left. These tend to be lively, fruity wines which were fashionable in the 1990s, but have since fallen out of fashion somewhat.

What are our top rosés for drinking this summer?

Well, if you’re looking for a coiffer to sit out and enjoy over a BBQ, this Organic Sicilian dry rosé  from Ciello is a steal. Dry, but not lacking in depth. And at £6.95, or £6.50 for 12 or more, you can keep well stocked up.

Albury Vineyards in Surrey have just released their 2017 vintage of the Silent Pool Rosé, so-called because of local legend involving a drowned maiden in a nearby lake...all good nutrients for the vines I’m sure! But the wine is excellent, crisp, light, strawberry flavours and a hint of tart cherry. Perfect for a summer picnic! £18.95, organic.

For something exceptional, the 2016 Gut Oggau Rosé from Austria is simply stunning. It manages to be at once subtle and light, yet full of depth, length and extraordinary balance. This wine came out of a year which saw the majority of their vineyard destroyed by hail. What was left was excellent quality, and we love the story of such riches coming out of the difficulties they faced. Very limited quantities, £48.00, biodynamic.

Just like every type of wine there are good'uns and bad'uns, but if you've been avoiding rosé because of its reputation, we think it's high time you gave it another go. As they say, make hay while the sun shines!