Grapevine Archive for Rosé
As the mercury lowers and the nights draw in, October’s Staff Choice is naturally… a rosé.
Hats off to Cellar Showroom manager Lisa Fletcher for reminding us, quite rightly, that drinking pink needn’t be confined to the summer months; and this well-priced off-dry wine from the exceptionally reliable Bougrier family is as versatile with weather as it is with food. Take a look at Lisa’s recommendation below…
I enjoy this delicious wine all year round. Light, refreshing and only 11% alcohol, it has bags of character for the price with delicious sweet (but never sickly) fruit flavours. Its off-dry palate and lovely delicate flavour makes it all-too-easy to enjoy on its own, but it’s also a surprisingly versatile food wine.
Recently it proved a big hit with salmon and some cold cuts; it goes brilliantly with chicken and even a mild Saturday night curry.
Another reason I always keep some of this in my wine rack is because it’s my ‘mother-in-law wine’: she enjoys off-dry rosés, and this always hits the spot!
£6.50 – Bottle
£78 – Case of 12
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We shouldn’t need fine summer weather to enjoy good rosé wine; and of the myriad rosé being produced today, nothing quite matches the glamour and elegance of pink wine from Provence.Our latest offering of rosé from the region aims to prove this.
Provence has always been about pink wine, and today it represents 88% of the region’s entire production.
It used to be sold mainly in skittle-shaped clear-glass bottles and to be honest was rarely that good. Often mass produced from high yielding grapes and with little technology to improve quality, rosé de Provence was often a serious disappointment. That is changing and more and more, I’ve been enjoying my forays into the pink-tinted world of Provence.
Provence has always about mass and about a few beacons of brilliance. The beacons have become brighter of late and every year they grow in number.
Why the change?
1. Better technology used to make cleaner wines.
2. Real investment, often from outside the region. Louis Roederer and Perrin are two names to have invested here.
3. Climate change.
4. Competition from elsewhere.
5. Genuine desire to improve quality with lower yields, better husbandry, and better choice of grape varieties.
As growers try to make better wines by reducing yields and using better grape varieties such as mourvèdre, the wines have suddenly become more flavourful, characterful and even better to be drunk with food.
Not so long ago, I had the great pleasure and honour of taking a small group of Wine Society members to the Rhône. One lunchtime we were in Cairanne where there is an excellent bar à vin with, not surprisingly, an excellent wine list. Of course we had an impressive Cairanne from the equally impressive 2010 vintage. This was a brilliant red but actually not quite what was needed with lunch during June.
However, the other wine we had was just the ticket and something wonderful to show off, particularly as it is only its second vintage. This was Miraval, a Côtes de Provence made by the Perrin family but owned by Hollywood stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
It was perfect: a wine with charm and ease and coping well with all the food that was put before us. And in came in a magnum. Magnums have become the in thing for top Provence wines and they do indeed make a real impact at the table.
On rosé and food
I drink rosé throughout the year. It is just a very easy wine to serve. It refreshes and it goes unerringly well with everything, and Provence rosé from good estates not only keeps well but improves in bottle and is often better after the summer is over.
Eggs and tomatoes are a real ‘no’ for most wines, and yet rosé wines work really well, unperturbed by the strong flavours even of salad dressing. With fish, especially grilled or fried, there is little better and likewise simply prepared meats including all manner of charcuterie.
So how to serve rosé?
Simplicity itself. There is no need to decant or to open hours before. Light chilling suffices but not so cold as to erase all the flavours.
1. Lighter styles
• Côtes de Provence, Domaine Houchart Rosé, 2014 (£7.50): very round tasting, easy, no hard edges. Versatile. Best drunk very young.
• Côtes de Provence Rosé, Château Barbanau 2014 (£9.25) & Coteaux Varois Saint-Qvinis Rosé, Domaine de Fontlade 2014 (£7.50): two crisp and bone-dry thirst quenchers that can be enjoyed with or without food and ideally now and over the next three or four months.
2. Mid-weight pinks
These all have more concentration and much more flavour. While remaining versatile, they come into their own with food. Lovely now but all will continue improving over the next few months.
Examples of this style:
• Sainte-Victoire-Côtes de Provence Rosé, Domaine Houchart 2014 (£8.25)
• Mas de Romanin, IGP Alpilles 2014 (£8.75)
• Côtes de Provence Rosé, Château Riotor 2014 (£8.95)
• Côtes de Provence Rosé, Château de Galoupet Cru Classé, 2014 (£9.95)
• Coteaux d’Aix en Provence Rosé, Château Vignelaure 2014 (£12.50)
• Domaine Richeaume, IGP Méditerranée Rosé 2014 (£14.95)
• Côtes de Provence, Miraval Rosé 2014 (£14.95)
3. More weight still
Bandol and Palette, with two wines represented in this offer:
Both will again work even better with food and better still with quite big dishes such as lobster or crab.
I was very fortunate enough to have enjoyed a bouillabaisse prepared by Lulu Peyraud of Bandol’s Domaine Tempier and reputed to have been one of the best interpreters of Provençal cooking. Both white and rosé were served alongside, with the rosé edging it and perhaps coping best with all the flavours of crab, garlic and saffron.
Replicating the dish is not easy. The fish markets in Marseille are hardly next door though these days there is Eurostar service from Saint Pancras. So maybe it can be done…!
Celebrity culture is huge in our society today (not The Wine Society, but society as a whole…). One area of particular interest is celebs’ business ventures outside of their usual expertise, be it founding a cheese farm, developing a signature metal detector or a foray into the drinks industry.
Like the rest of us mere mortals, many celebs have a love of wine and as such make the jump in founding their own wineries, or investing in pre-existing establishments.
Of course there is often little winemaking input from these famed owners themselves – we can’t be expected to think that Antonio Banderas is out in the vineyards at the height of summer picking his grapes or monitoring sugar ripeness and deciding on the use of natural vs cultured yeasts – but you can assume that the wines produced are at the very least made in the style that they might like to drink themselves.Like ‘normal’ wineries the quality among celeb wines is hugely variable. However, at the risk of generalising, they are often at least quite good: the owners have the capital to invest in the best technology for the cellars and this in itself offers a great advantage.
Indeed, the glitz and glam of Hollywood is visiting The Wine Society in the form of Brangelina’s (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s for the uninitiated) Provence rosé from Miraval.
Their arrival is fairly recent to the pantheon of celeb winemakers, which also includes Drew Barrymore, Ernie Els, Nick Faldo, David Ginola, Cliff Richard and Sting to name but a few.
However, don’t let the youth of the winery colour your impressions: Miraval won many plaudits for the first vintage last year, and being the only rose to make Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of the Year places it among esteemed company. The wine is made in conjunction with the Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and as such quality is a top priority… with just a touch of added glamour.
Miraval 2014 is available now for £14.95 per bottle (plus a small quantity of magnums at £34.95 each), and forms part of our current Discover Provence offer alongside 11 other wonderful rosés from the region.
Marketing Campaign Manager
No longer is pink wine thought to be ‘one for the ladies’, with bottles sporting pretty wine labels designed to appeal to the fairer sex. Finally, the message has sunk home.
The other outmoded but once widely held opinion about rosés that did the wines a huge disservice is that they are light, ephemeral, holiday wines; not really to be taken seriously.
Happily this myth has been debunked too. Yes, there’s nothing like a glass of chilled rosé to perk up a not-so-sunny day, but there’s so much more to these wines which talk of place and grape alongside their white and red (and sparkling) counterparts.
Our expanded list reflects the fact that so many wine regions are making cracking rosés now from Greece to South Africa and back home in the Mediterranean heartlands.
The one characteristic they all share, be they the palest pink oeil de perdrix or the almost red clairets, is that they really come into their own with food. No other style of wine is able to cope with such a wide variety of flavours from garlicky salad dressings to spicy Asian cooking, from aperitif to dessert, even, in the case of some off-dry styles.
As for reds and whites, some basic principles will help for happy marriages:
• Match wine and food weight for weight (think of it as a boxing match)
• Ensure that acid levels match – ‘sharp’ ingredients need brisk wines
• Counteract salt and spice with sweetness
• Counteract bitter or sour ingredients with plump fruit
• Wines and ingredients from the same region are often an excellent match
• Most importantly, don’t worry too much – there are few real disasters!
If you’re looking for some recipes to inspire, we have put together a shortlist from our archives or those that will go particularly well with rosés; and if you can’t make up your mind which wines to buy, our current offer showcases the pick of the pink crop.
There’s more on matching rosé and food in this article on our website.
The finest expression of Bandol is undoubtedly red but the rosé is vitally important too, providing a delicious, food-friendly wine with an ability to refresh the palate like none other.
The 2011 Tempier Rosé is delicious: a fine vintage, maybe a touch fuller than the 2010.
And so to the railway.
The TGV, undoubtedly one of the greatest rail projects of all time, very effectively links Paris to the Midi, but only as far as Marseille. It was always intended that a line would be built to Nice. A glance at the map shows just how difficult this is likely to be and for the moment plans will bring the line straight across the vineyard of Bandol. The growers have been there before. One of Lucien Peuraud?s last missions was to stop the motorway. Then he failed but times have changed and the building costs are likely to be huge. And the state coffers are a little empty?
Hopefully Mr Hollande?s favourite tipple is Bandol.
I have a confession, and I beg forgiveness from all francophile & hispanophile members. If I were to be restricted to drinking wine from just one country for the rest of my life I would choose Italy – no discussion.
While I admit that I would be hard pushed to find a direct replacement for my beloved Rhône reds, my aromatic Alsacien fix could come from the Alto Adige, and I would then be forever happy. The sheer diversity of Italy’s indigenous grapes has to be tasted to be believed, and our annual double-header tasting (this year in London and Bristol earlier in the week) has cemented this yet further into my taste buds.
14 estates present, 33 wines between them, 22 purely Italian indigenous varieties (with the exception of a dollop of cabernet sauvignon & merlot in one Umbrian sangiovese-based blend). The freshness of Etna’s frappato, the minerality and linear beauty of Soave’s garganega, the elegance and staying power of Piemonte’s nebbiolo and the grippy ripe food-worthiness of Puglia’s negroamaro were just four of the delights experienced by the palates of 300 members & guests in London and 200 in Bristol.
A full list of the wines tasted can be found on our website; many are either currently available on the List, or will appear in our Italian offer which runs from 6th August to 9th September.
The list of growers was impressive, reading like a veritable who’s who of who and what is hot in Italy at the moment: GD Vajra & Proprietà Sperino (Piemonte); Pieropan, Allegrini & La Riva dei Frati (Veneto); Isole e Olena & Gianni Brunelli (Tuscany); Monte Schiavo (Marche); Barberani (Umbria); Contesa (Abruzzo); La Guardiense (Campania); Masseria Monaci & Vallone (Puglia); and Nicosia (Sicily).
What is most reassuring is to see the next generation of families taking their business yet further, something that struck me as I looked at those sitting opposite me at our ‘thank you’ dinner on the Glass Boat in Bristol (see right), as well as others further around the table. The future is fixed on firm foundations, and with it my drinking habits should that aforementioned singularly restrictive day ever come!
Head of PR & Events
On paper, tasting hundreds of wines sounds like a lot of fun; and it is.
Nonetheless, some tastings are inevitably more difficult than others and the respective heats for the chardonnay and rosé categories were cases in point for different reasons.
Were you to have listened in on the chardonnay heats, you would therefore have been forgiven for thinking you?d stumbled into an antiquated card game.
I often think of chardonnay as the vinous equivalent of a lightning rod: not a hugely interesting device in terms of its raw materials (with apologies to any enthusiasts who may be reading), but amazing in its ability to conduct the power the elements can throw at it. It is a relatively neutral grape but when planted in certain places throughout the world it expresses incomparably multifaceted flavours.
Add to this the fact that it responds well to both stainless steel and wood and in blind-tasting environs its diversity becomes profound to the point of perilous. It therefore took Joker-playing, re-tasting, olfactory scrutiny and debate before everyone was happy that the wines had all been given a chance.
Then there was the ?pink morning? scheduled for the all-important task of selecting the ready-best of our 2011 rosés. In the event, the morning erred considerably more to the grey side, being as it was the coldest of the year thus far.
For myself, this lent the tasting an element of Zen as I sought those wines that transported me most vividly to the lazy summer afternoons which I hope await me later in the calendar. Remarkably, I think it worked; in any case, the buyers? final votes revealed some very strong performances indeed.
These particular occasions impressed upon me just how much perseverance and concentration (not to mention talent) is required to taste objectively through large and/or complicated lineups. I can certainly now vouch first hand that Society members are in good hands/noses/palates with the buying team, and promise that the 2012 Wine Champions will be all the more delicious thanks to these meticulous ? not to mention egalitarian ? efforts in the tasting room.
Helping suppliers pour wines at Wine Society tastings is not only good fun but it’s a great way to hear about their wines first-hand and to learn from the often searching questions put to them by members.
As those of you who have attended grower tastings will know, there are some real characters among our producers, many of whom tell a great story as well as make a good wine or two.Pierre Bories of Château Ollieux Romanis who makes our Society Corbières, is just such a character. He regaled members and staff alike with stories about his wines and his property at tastings earlier this year. We have recently added Pierre’s delicious 2010 Corbières Rosé to the List, so I thought I would share the story of how, each year, Pierre and his friends ‘crash test’ the new vintage.
First of all Pierre was keen to impress upon me the importance of the colour of his rosé. Tilting the glass against the white table cloth he commanded me to ‘take a look at the colour…it’s not at all orange, it’s blue!’ I confess I couldn’t honestly say that I would call the colour blue, but it was indeed a beautifully delicate colour; the palest of pellucid pinks; more purply than peachy pink, so I think I know what he means. ‘This is vital’, Pierre went on, ‘it shows that there is no oxidation. Once oxidation occurs you start to lose fruit. You must avoid this at all costs’
Then Pierre went on to tell me about his rosé crash test. ‘Every year, usually in April at the beginning of the first warm days, we invite five families to our house for a day of eating and drinking, with the odd game to keep the children amused. The day starts around 11am with some aperitifs and nibbles, then we have a picnic lunch and a barbecue in the evening. Throughout the day we drink nothing but our new Corbières rosé. Our friends and their children all bring mattresses and crash on the floor. We usually get through several cases of rosé and the next morning we all get up and go about our usual business without feeling jaded or having sore heads. This is the test of how pure the wine is. Some of my friends are keen cyclists and have even been known to go off and compete the next day…and no, they didn’t crash!’
Perhaps I misunderstood and Pierre meant crache not crash, but somehow I don’t think so. It’s good to hear tales from growers who clearly enjoy drinking their own wines and whose zest for life is so infectious. Let’s celebrate with a glass of blue-tinged rosé and drink to headache-free mornings after!
The other evening I craved a glass of something tasty to enjoy in the garden with a few nibbles and the glorious April sunshine. But my heart sank when I opened the fridge and saw that the only thing I had on ice was a rosé.
I have a guilty secret. I don’t really like pink wine. It’s not a macho thing; I actually love the colour. Perhaps that’s the problem – anything that looks so tempting and delicious in the bottle surely has to be slick and refreshing, full of mouth-watering summery fruit. But all too often, for me, once you’ve pulled the cork or cracked the cap, it’s a disappointing anti-climax, a wine that’s drab and flabby on the nose and palate. Where’s the complexity and sense of identity that you get from even basic whites and reds?
I realise that I am in the minority here. Rosé is all the rage and I have many friends and colleagues that I enjoy numerous wines with who love pink wines.
Perhaps it’s the indecisiveness that puts me off. I want the fresh, cooling charm of a white but also the depth and fruit of a red. So I compromise and plump for rosé. It’s the Nick Clegg of the wine world.
‘Let’s give it a whirl’ offered my Panglossian better half pouring me a glass of the chilled rosé. And it was absolutely, lip-smackingly delicious.
A temptingly bright pink in colour and the nose actually delivered what the appearance promised: rich gloriously fresh fruit like sniffing a punnet of strawberries. The palate too had all those lovely fruity flavours, but, importantly, good acidity too. Such flavour. Such freshness. I was converted.
The wine? It was Château Bel Air, Bordeaux Rosé, 2009. It is made by the brilliant Despagne team at their estate in Entre-Deux-Mers. The secret to the fresh palate is that the grapes (all cabernet sauvignon) are picked just before they get too ripe and lose their freshness.
If you were cynical about the charms of going pink, then give it a go. It cured me.
… or should that be ‘giorni di insalata‘?
Having just returned from a delightfully lazy few days in the Wye Valley, eating outside for most of the time, I simply must share my four top Italian tipples for the current season.
Fizz: Prosecco Treviso Frizzante from La Riva dei Frati. Don’t let the name change, or the screw cap distract you. Recent DOC machinations have meant a different nomenclature, but this is the same Prosecco we have always listed – fresh, dry, bubbly, a superb palate cleanser or party starter straight from the fridge with enough flavour to go with any light nibbles you may wish to crunch while basking in the sunshine.
White: Orvieto Classico Secco 2009 from the Barberani boys Nicolo and Bernardo. Based on the local grechetto grape, this Umbrian wine oozes class. It is unpretentious, with a whiff of citrus and fresh hay, while on the palate it is weighty enough to match roast chicken. Its lightness of touch means that, as long as there is not too much vinegar in the salad dressing (a wine killer if ever there was one), it is the perfect white for a summer meal.
Pink: Cerasuolo Vigna Corvino Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2009 from our old friend Rocco Pasetti at Contesa. Tomatoes are usually the curse of any wine, as they are so difficult to match. Hey presto! This is the solution.
Red: Barbera d’Alba Poderi Colla, 2007. Tino and Federica Colla make this beautifully fragrant, wonderfully fruity, superbly complex wine which is just the ticket for any meat your care to lob on to the barbie!
Of course, you may beg to differ. What are your summer favourites?