Wines: Rosy futures

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Indy Lifestyle Online
It's not easy to imagine Tony in Men Behaving Badly, or Eastenders' Grant, delicately sipping a rose. Real men don't cry in public, or drink rose, or so they'd have you believe. But if rose still suffers from an image problem, not to mention the Mateus and Rose d'Anjou syndrome, it doesn't have to be blush-inducing or mawkish. Australia's macho Geoff Merrill may not be the first person you would think would produce the 1996 Breakaway Grenache, pounds 4.49, Safeway, yet his refreshingly crisp, rosehip and wild-raspberry flavoured rose, is one of Australia's best at under a fiver.

Like umbrellas and ice-creams, rose in Britain is seasonal, but there's plenty of durable, elegantly dry, food-friendly stuff around. In France, the best roses come from Bordeaux and France's south; in Spain, they are from Navarra. A case in point, the 1996 Navarra Cabernet Sauvignon Rosado, pounds 3.99, Sainsbury's, is a bronze-pink, well-priced, green-pepper-like cabernet sauvignon from one of Navarra's most successful modern wineries, Bodegas Principe de Viana. Also good value is the 1996 Cotes du Ventoux Rose, pounds 3.99, Wine Cellar, Berkeley Wines.

From Bordeaux, and Englishman Alan Johnson-Hill, comes the 1996 Chateau Meaume Rose, pounds 4.49, Majestic. It is a summer thirst-quencher of a rose with the attractive redcurrant fruitiness of the merlot grape. And from his compatriot, former Majestic director Esme Johnstone, whose Entre-Deux- Mers property, Chateau de Sours, consistently produces one of the most full-flavoured roses, the 1996 Domains de Sours Rose, pounds 4.99, Sainsbury's, is an affordable substitute in a mouthwatering, summer pudding fruits style.

For the fuller body and flavours of the south, head for the Mediterranean and the 1996 Chateau de Lancyre, Coteaux du Languedoc, pounds 4.99, Fuller's, a stylish, strawberry-fruity Languedoc rose from the Pic St Loup appellation with a refreshing twist of acidity. And from the Collioure hills close to the Spanish border, the 1996 Les Clos de Paulilles, pounds 7.70, Nicolas, is a delectably thirst-quenching Roussillon blend of syrah and grenache.

Fizz of the month The 1993 Green Point Rose, pounds 12.99, Thresher, is a flavoursome, pink-hued, pinot noir-based fizz from Domains Chandon, Moet et Chandon's Australian outpost in Victoria's Yarra Valley. It has the fragrance of ripe strawberries, an elegant mousse of pinhead bubbles and attractively malty flavours. Equally elegant, Waitrose Brut Rose Champagne, Union Auboise, pounds 14.95, is a stylish, foaming pink fizz from the Union Auboise Co-operative.

More in store this month Until 15 September, Majestic is offering a saving of pounds 100 a case on the 1990 Lanson Vintage Champagne, now pounds 15.65 instead of the normal pounds 23.99 a bottle. And it has taken delivery of the next batch of 15 classy clarets plundered from the Swedish drinks monopoly's treasure chest, ranging from crus bourgeois at pounds 9.99 to Les Carruades de Lafite at pounds 29.99. Safeway is running an Italian promotion until 16 August. It introduces, among others, the excellent new 1996 Safeway Casa di Giovanni Grillo, pounds 3.99.