A Rose By Any Other Name

POSTED ON 03/05/2014

I’m sure there are many of you who think that the idea of superior rosé is as plausible as equating cupcakes with haute cuisine. To disabuse us of the notion, Richard Bampfield MW and his client, the enterprising Jean-Christophe Mau, owner of Château Brown in Bordeaux, put on a blind tasting last month of premium rosés around the world at London’s Westminster Boating Base.

It looked at first disconcerting sight on as though all the bottles were of Bordeaux rosé. As it turned out, all shapes had been cunningly standardised after being decanted into clear glass, unlabelled Bordeaux bottles. Ranging from the palest blush to deep cherry, there were more shades of pink than a Winsor & Newton colour chart. But variety wasn’t confined to colour.

The rosé line-upThe rosé line-up

Not surprisingly, over half the 31 rosés were from Provence, the spiritual home of rosé. Then there was Bordeaux, the Loire, the Rhône, Navarra, Piedmont, New Zealand, Australia and England, yes, England. The English rosé was a major surprise. Made from pinot noir, the excellent pale salmon pink 2013 Albury Silent Pools Rosé, £14, Albury Vineyard, showed fresh berry aromas and substantial redcurrant fruit flavour with a satisfying lipsmacking tang.

Finding myself taking notes at the same table as Julia Harding MW, co-author of the encyclopedic Wine Grapes, I asked her how she was getting on identifying the various different grape varieties. When, to my surprise, she said that she hadn’t thought about grape variety, it occurred to me that despite the broad palette of grapes involved, grape variety is less of an issue when you’re drinking rosé than factors such as colour, bright fruit, freshness and dryness.

The Provence rosés acquitted themselves well. Although a handful were blandly peardroppy in style, the best were deliciously full, concentrated and elegantly refreshing. In particular, I liked the crunchily refreshing and crisply dry 2013 Château de Léoube Secret de Léoube, Goedhuis, Bibendum, the appetisingly raspberryish, elegantly dry 2013 Chêne Blue, Ventoux, £15, Justerini & Brooks, the delightfully berry fruity 2013 M de Minuty, £14.99, by 2 = £9.99, Majestic, and the deceptively rich and full-flavoured 2013 Domaine Ott, Clos Mireille, £30, Hedonism Wines.

To my surprise, the Brangelina wine, the 2013 Miraval Rosé, £18 - £20, Lay & Wheeler, Berry Bros & Rudd, was also among the best with its juicy redcurrant and raspberry fruitiness and finesse; as was Sacha Lichine’s fine Les Clans, Domaines Sacha Lichine, albeit at a hefty £49, Hedonism Wines.

Outside Provence, I thought Italy’s distinctive 2010 Biondi-Santi Rosato di Toscana Greppo excellent, also the fine 2013 Chivite Finca de Vallatuerta, Navarra, £28.99, Mike Hothersall Wines, and from the New World, the instant strawberries and cream appeal of the 2013 Turkey Flat, Barossa Valley, Australia. £14, Costco, made it not just a rosé by any other name.

Something for the Weekend 3 May 2014

Night In

Tesco 2013 finest* Stellenbosch Sauvignon Blanc

A fragrantly fresh and herbal Cape sauvignon blanc from Vergelegen showing notes of passion fruit and gooseberry with an underlying juiciness that makes it so appetising as food or sipping dry white. £7.99, reduced from £9.99, until 20 May.

Dinner Party

2012 St-Nicolas de Bourgeuil Les VII Arpents de la Chapelle aux Vignes, Foucher-Lebrun.

Deliciously drinkable as the best cabernet franc can be, this Spring sunshine red with a herbal backdrop to the savoury blackcurrant fruit slips down almost before you know it. 9.50, Jeroboams shops.

Splash Out

2007 Roda 1 Reserva Rioja

It’s pricey yes, but this is a fabulous ultra-modern rioja, whose light toasting of vanilla oak coats a power-packed cherryish fruitiness topped and tailed by smooth oak and lively refreshing acidity in perfect balance. Around £48.00, Hedonism, Selfridges, Handford Wines.


1. 2013 Albury Silent Pools Rosé, £14, Albury Vineyard

Pale salmon pink, clean, fresh red berry and redcurrant aromas, fresh almost tart spritz, good volume of tartish redcurrant fruit flavours, very juicy and full-flavoured with lovely crisply tart lipsmacking acidity and freshness and length of flavour. 89+

2. 2013 Artadi Garnacha Rosé, Navarra, £11.30, Berry Bros & Rudd.

Mid-pink in colour, quite pronounced, pleasant strawberry fruit quality with some obvious bubblegum off-dry sweetness and strawberry fruit flavour, finishing nicely crisp and dry but a tad on the short side. 86.

3. 2010 Biondi-Santi Rosato di Toscana Greppo

Deep rich bronze in colour, a distinctive interpretation of rosé, distinctive smoky oak and red fruits on the nose, powerful, concentrated and unusual red fruits quality, ripe, soft and juicy with a degree of complexity and considerable vinosity finishing refreshingly dry. Very winey but not everyone’s cup o’char. 91

4. 2013 Château Brown, Pessac-Leognan, £25, Hedonism Wines

Pale salmon pink, lightly herbal, almost cabernet franc-like nose, initially nicely ripe then nicely dry, herbal red berry fruitiness, and dry crisp fruit quality with good juicy fresh acidity; well-crafted rosé, self-evidently Bordeaux. 88

5. 2012 Château d’Aquéria, Tavel. £16.40, Eton Vintners

A jolly, deepish pink, pleasantly fresh and strawberryish on the nose, and then sweetly strawberryish on the palate, pleasantly soft and juicy with nice refreshingly dry finish. Full-bodied, food-friendly, if unspectacular. 87

6. 2013 Château de Léoube, Provence, £16, Bibendum, Goedhuis

A very delicate blush in colour, quite serious fresh and berry-like scent, nice full fruit in the redcurrant spectrum, juicy, ripe, off-dry, good concentration of flavour and vinosity and with a clean, dry finish. Good food rosé. 88

7. 2013 Château de Léoube Secret de Léoube, Provence. £21, Bibendum, Goedhuis.

Very pale and delicate blush, pleasant floral and berry notes on the nose, excellent volume of berry fruit concentration with a bright freshness and crunch to it, finishing with a balanced feel of fruit and refreshing dryness at the same time. 90

8. 2012 Château de Sours La Source, Bordeaux. £14.50, Private Cellar

Pale salmon in colour, distinctively aromatic and very herbal on the palate with an almost austere, dry herbal, blackcurrant leaf fruit quality that’s quite challenging, but on a hot summer’s day, could equally be just the crisp and refreshingly tart ticket. 87

9. 2013 Château d’Esclans, Domaines Sacha Lichine, Provence. £22.95, Jeroboams

Pale salmon pink, attracticve sweetly ripe berryish nose with a hint of peardrop to it, nicely ripe, dry yet fruity rosé with a precise quality to it, good vinosity and dryness; very well-crafted with some persistence of length and flavour. 88+

10. 2012 Château Sainte Marguerite, Cuvée M, Provence. £20, Enotria

Delicate pale bronze blush, quite full and promising on the nose, lots of ripe soft, juicy berry fruit, very pleasantly approachable with a cleansing dry finish, albeit a tad on the short side. 87

11. 2013 Chêne Blue, Ventoux. £15, Justerini & Brooks

Delicate pale bronze, attractively aromatic with peach and pear aromas, good taut ripe concentrated fruit character, very nicely put together in the raspberry and redcurrant spectrum; super quality and clarity of berry fruit flavour with finely balanced fresh drying acidity on the finish; excellent food wine. 90

12. 2011 Chivite Colección 125 Rosado, Navarra. £13.99, Mike Hothersall Wines

Deepish salmon pink, distinctively aromatic with evidently smoky oak tones that follow through onto the palate in a rosé of considerable vinosity, weight and smoky oak flavours that finishes appetisingly crisp and dry; not everyone’s cup of tea either because of the oak, but good in traditional rioja-like vein. 88

13. 2013 Chivite Finca de Vallatuerta, Navarra. £28.99, Mike Hothersall Wines

Pale salmon pink hue, lovely fresh raspberry aromatics, spritz, and fine lively crisp and crunchy raspberry fruit quality with a subtle concentration and rather lovely juicy freshness to it; good as a dry apéritif or a food wine equally. 90

14. 2013 Domaine Sainte Lucie Made in Provence Classic, Provence. £11.95, Lea & Sandeman

Delicate pale bronze in colour, quite intense in aromas but rather let down by an overt peardroppy character that’s a tad on the obvious side, although finishes quite juicy and pleasantly dry. 86

15. 2013 Domaine Sainte Lucie Made in Provence Premium, Provence. £14.95, Lea & Sandeman

A delicate pale blush, distinctively aromatic with a nice smoky berry fruit quality, good concentration of ripe yet dry and refreshing raspberry fruit with fine vinosity and flavour, very good overall balance and refreshingly dry finish. 88

16. 2012 Domaine de Terrebrune, Bandol. £22.50, Hailsham Cellars, AG Wines

Pale bronze in colour, attractively aromatic berry fruit, pleasant fruit sweetness on the palate, quite juicy and ripe, with good vinosity and flavour, finishing nicely juicy and appetisingly dry. 87

17. 2013 Domaine des Diables Rose Bonbon, Provence. £13.95, Lea & Sandeman

A very pale delicate blush, distinctive nose with notes of peardrop and blackcurrant leaf, quite peardroppy, and cold fermented on the palate, pleasantly ripe and juicy with an appetisingly juicy dry finish, if a tad on the anodyne side. 86.

18. 2013 Domaine Sainte Lucie L’Hydropathe, Provence. £15.95, Lea & Sandeman

Pale delicate blush, peardroppy notes on the nose and palate, quite juicy, albeit a tad cold fermented peardrop in style, but at least with a quite juicy dry finish to it. 87

19. 2012 Domaine Tempier, Bandol. £23.95, Lea & Sandeman

Good delicate bronze blush, nice fresh rhubarb aromas, good ripe berry fruit concentration with a twist of liquorice and blackcurrant leaf; really fresh and juicy with good concentration of berry fruit, finishing appetisingly dry and crisp. 88

20. 2013 Domaine Ott, Clos Mireille, Provence. £30, Hedonism Wines

Very pale delicate blush, nice fresh rhubarb on the nose, good delicate ripe and juicy concentration of raspberry and berry fruit, deceptively full-flavoured and vinous with a very good clean dry finish. There’s more to this rosé than meets the eye or the nose. 91

21. 2013 Les Clans, Domaines Sacha Lichine, Provence. £49, Hedonism Wines.

Very pale delicate pink hue, nice smoky oak touch to the berry fruit on the nose, following through to a distinctively smoky berry fruit that’s ripe and rich and delicately poised between oak-derived complexity and juicy dry berry fruity; good complexity and vinosity here with nicely dry finish. Distinctive and unusual. 90+

22. Garrus, Domaines Sacha Lichine, Provence. £60, Bordeaux Index.

Pale delicate bronze, fine delicate fresh berryish nose and good ripe berry fruit on the palate, quite juicy and dry, appetising fruit quality with an almost tannic grip of oak on the finish. Distinctive and quite elegant. 88

23. 2013 M de Minuty, Provence. £14.99, Majestic.

Delicate pale blush, attractively aromatic, very nice herby redcurranty fruit concentration and lovely delicate berry fruit ripeness, deliciously refreshingly dry and vinous at the same time, so both appetising aperitif and good food wine thanks to its concentration of flavour and delicate balance. Classic Provence. 90

24. 2013 Miraval Rosé, Provence. £20, Berry Bros & Rudd

Pale delicate salmon pink hue, attractive pinot-like raspberry fruit nose, touch of bubblegum, nicely crafted rosé with good juicy redcurrant and raspberry fruitiness, nicely textured with a finesse and tension between berry fruit juiciness and appetisingly dry refreshing acidity; a very smart rosé. 89+

25. 2012 Rimauresq, Provence. £13, New Street Wines

Pale delicate bronze in colour; good berry fruit nose, fresh berry fruit on the palate, quite full, ripe and rich with light herbal twist to it, and good appetisingly juicy dry finish; subtle, balanced, appetising food rosé. 88

26. 2013 Sancerre Rosé, Chavignol, Domaine Laporte. £16.50, Lea & Sandeman

Pale delicate salmon hue, good fresh strawberries and cream nose, surprisingly tart crisp dry acidity on the palate behind the attractive raspberry fruit, the dry crisp finish very much a summer’s day rosé. 87

27. n/a

28. 2012 Sella Majoli Rosato, Piemonte. £16.75, Antico, Locanda Locatelli

Bronzey pink with a garnet rim, lots of strawberry on the nose and palate, a tad on the coarse and obvious side with slight phenolic bitter background. 85

29. 2012 Skillogalee Cabernet malbec Rosé, Clare Valley, Australia. £14, Enotria

Deepish pink, quite rhubarby on the nose, lots of rhubarb and cherry fruit sweetness, rather obvious although fairly appetisingly juicy with pleasantly dry finish. 87

30. 2013 Takatu Rosé, Matakana. £17.50, Newzealandhouseofwine

Pale bronze in colour, distinctive nose, good concentrated fruit, a touch of smoked anchovy, ripe, off-dry berry fruit, distinctive flavours, full-bodied, nicely ripe; dry with fair vinosity but weird. 84?

31. 2013 Turkey Flat, Barossa Valley, Australia. £14. Costco

Pale salmon pink, good fresh berry nose, immediately appealing sweetness of strawberry fruit, very juicy with lovely ripe berry fruit concentration, super-appetisingly juicy, with lively dry and vinous finish. 90

32. 2013 Whispering Angel, Provence. £16.95, The Wine Library, Jeroboams

Pale bronze, nice berry fruit nose, very attractively juicy raspberry fruit quality, juicy and textured, appetisingly clean and fresh with lively dry finish and overall excellent balance. 88

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