Fun and light, rosé wine is the ideal tipple for a summer afternoon or evening. But it’s not just a pretty face with no depth. It can be interesting, textured and elegant, too, with a wide range of flavours from simple citrus and peach stone fruit to watermelon, sun-soaked red berries and black fruit, herbaceous green and white pepper spice. Some rosés have a tantalising lightness that makes them the perfect aperitif - others have more body and are a match for meaty dishes.
Colour isn’t the giveaway sign of sweetness, so don’t think palest pink guarantees a bone-dry style. Some red grapes are much thicker-skinned than others, quickly infusing more colour than a thin-skinned variety, while climate and winery techniques also make a difference.
So, with it being National Rosé Day yesterday, what better reason is there for sampling a few of the many different styles? Here are our Top 10 plus a couple of little extras we just couldn’t resist recommending you try:
1. 2016 Miraval
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt may no longer be an item, but thankfully their lovingly made Miraval, expertly produced by the Perrin family is still going strong. Tantalisingly pale pink in the bottle, it offers notes of wild strawberry, nectarine, peach, citrus and white flowers. It’s refreshingly crisp and ideal served with a plate of Socca, the Niçoise flatbread made from chickpeas, topped with plenty of black pepper. A Provençal holiday in every sip.
2. 2016 Dunstone Shiraz Rosé
A boutique wine from Wellington in the Western Cape, this 100 per cent Shiraz rosé is hand harvested early in the morning to keep the citrus and red-fruit flavours crisp and fresh. A long, lazy Sunday lunch of roast chicken and spring greens is an ideal match.
For another plush, rounded style, try this:
2016 Château Vignol Rosé
3. Domaine le Clocher Rue de la Soif, Brendan Tracey
£16.99, Les Caves de Pyrene.
Call 01483 554750
New Jersey-born winemaker Brendan Tracey came to the vines via a long journey of punk music, DJing and journalism. He eventually abandoned his 30-year career to study viticulture in Amboise, in the Loire Valley, and was an apprentice with Thierry Puzelat, a pioneer of natural winemaking in France. Tracey’s own approach is to assist nature rather than control it: “Each year, each variety, terroir and climatic situation imposes decisions on the way grapes are grown, harvested and fermented.” It definitely yields results. His “vin de soif” , or “thirsty wine”, does exactly as it should, quenching your thirst with raspberry, plum and black cherry. Made from equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, you’ll have to stop yourself from guzzling this one too quickly.
4. 2015 Château la Gordonne La Chapelle
Founded by the Romans in the 1st century BC, Château La Gordonne in the Massif des Maures benefits from an ideal microclimate of mild winters and hot summers tempered by the dry Mistral wind, benevolently sweeping through the vineyards bringing ventilation and protection from disease. The Grenache and Syrah vines manage to soak up 3,000 hours of sunshine a year giving succulent notes of orange, redcurrant, freesia and a touch of honeyed nuts, harnessed with a slight tannic edge, providing weight and bite to the finish.
5. 2015, Château Léoube, Secret de Léoube
A food-friendly rosé produced by the organic-focused Lord and Lady Bamford, the brains and heart behind Daylesford. The wine is made by the highly acclaimed Romain Ott, the fourth generation of inspiring winemakers from Domaine Ott, who has been at Léoube since 2000. Blending Grenache, 30-year-old Cinsault vines and a “secret” touch of old-vine Cabernet Sauvignon to add weight, the wine is smooth and dry on the palate with herbal and peppery notes and a subtle red fruit and pear core. It would happily handle plates of carpaccio, grilled meat and fish.
Keen to sample another biodynamic style? Try this:
2015, Chateau Maris, Rose de Nymphe
6. 2015, Château d’Esclans, Rock Angel
The wines at Château d’Esclans are made by Patrick Léon, previously from Château Mouton-Rothschild and Opus One. With such fine wines on his CV you can sit back and enjoy the result. Grenache, Rolle (Vermentino) and lesser-known and rather ancient Tibouren combine to create a fresh, intense palate of grapefruit, tangerine and red cherry fruit. Herbal and mineral nuances add depth and texture, resulting in a very smooth, cool, dry finish. Glass after glass, this wine is so enjoyable you’ll forget all about food.
7. 2015 Cà dei Frati, Rosa dei Frati
From Lugarna in Lombardy, the Cà dei Frati is an inspired blend of full-bodied Groppello, dark-skinned Marzemino, highly acidic Sangiovese and low-tannin, sour cherry Barbera grapes. The sum of its parts, combined with a short period of skin contact and temperature-controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks results in an onion skin-pink wine with zesty summer fruits and vibrant acidity. A glass paired with a plate of creamy goats cheese will see you through an enjoyable evening.
Prefer your Italian rosé with a volcanic edge? Try this rosato from Mount Etna
2016, Tenuta delle Terre Nere
8. 2016 Mirabeau Pure
Classically pale, the multi-award winning Pure is always a joy to drink. Bone dry but never lacking in flavour with light and clean touches of strawberry, stone fruit, lychee and citrus, lasting acidity and a lingering mineral edge. Like a dear friend who stops by for an impromptu tipple and ends up staying for dinner and then dessert, this aromatic wine certainly delivers for all occasions.
Another quaffable afternoon-to-evening session wine? Try this:
2015 Domaine Royal de Jarras
9. 2016 Mirabeau Étoile
Mirabeau Étoile is the possibly the older, elegant sister to Mirabeau Pure. Definitely related, with the same blend of Grenache and Syrah, but this time the flavours stay in the summer orchard, lightly dancing around white peach and ripe apricot, against a backdrop of delicate citrus. Gossamer pink in the glass, Étoile is refined and silky. Open a bottle with a supper of salads, grilled meat, fish and sushi dishes. Pairing with cheese such as grilled halloumi brings out a rather lovely tangy, saline finish.
More from Provence? Try this bone-dry, petal pink wine with feta and watermelon or goats cheese and courgette flowers.
2016, Château de Berne, Grande Récolte
10. 2015 Chene Bleu
From just outside Gigondas in the Southern Rhône, this blush pink organic wine invites big herbal aromas of garrigue, wet stone, ripe red strawberry, cherry, apricot, white peach and passion fruit, carrying through on to a textured palate, with mouthwatering acidity, orange zest and a very long mineral finish. Medium-bodied with some smooth tannin appeal, like a bold kiss that delicately lingers. Very versatile, this would work well for a summer barbecue, with roast chicken or salmon, or with lightly spiced dishes.
More organic rosé from the Rhône? Try this vibrant, fuller-bodied number from Tavel, perfect with chorizo and picante dishes.
2015, Domaine Lafond, Tavel Rosé Roc-Epine
Nuria Stylianou is a WSET-qualified wine and spirits columnist. Email her on email@example.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @nu_on_the_vineReuse content