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Prime Time for Pink: Rosés for Summer 2023


Update, August 3

I've just added two more southern French rosés: Alaina, which is new to me, although its producer, Laurent Miquel, isn't; and Miraflors, which I've recommended in previous vintages, including as a Wine of the Week. Scroll down to the seventh and eleventh wines. Alaina is currently on offer, as is Le Bijou de Sophie Valrose.


Rosé is an all year round wine, but everyone knows that rosés become more irresistible in summer. So, glasses at the ready for this year's seasonal round-up of new wines and new vintages.

To repeat a few things I said last year: rosés aren't only for the aperitif or poolside slots. They often make very good food wines, not least with the sort of dishes you might be having in warm weather – grilled and barbecued fish, seafood, charcuterie, salads, vegetable tarts, chicken dishes, pasta and picnic fare.

All wines need to be kept out of sunlight to avoid spoilage by light strike (does what it says on the tin) but rosés are often more vulnerable, above all when they’re in clear glass bottles. Ideally, we'd have dark, opaque wine glasses, but that's a step too far. In fact, I tried the most expensive wine below in one of the new Josephine glasses designed by Kurt Josef Zalto – scroll to the end to see and read more.

Pink wines should be served chilled and then kept cold while you make further inroads into the bottle, box or pouch. Wine cooler sleeves kept in the freezer or ice box are invaluable for bottles. Chilling your glass by swirling a couple of ice cubes round it before you start is another good move when the sun is beating down. If your wine does end up too warm, you can always resort to an ice cube lobbed into the liquid itself.

This year I’m kicking off my recommendations with three wines in sustainable packaging. These are all the more relevant and praiseworthy in the context of rosé when so many, especially from Provence, come in absurdly heavy glass bottles.

I’ve given empty bottle weights at the end of each tasting note when I have them – and I can tell you there are some shockers. I’m sorry to say that three of my top-scoring wines are the worst offenders by a long way. If Chanel (yes, that Chanel) can put its Domaine de L’Ile rosé, my other top scoring wine, in a bottle weighing only 409g, others could too. When will they wake up to the harm they're doing?

After the sustainably packaged trio, the order is in more or less ascending order of price. More or less, because supermarket price promotions skew the picture.


Two Tavel rosés I really wanted to recommend, Domaine Maby La Forcadière (Yapp Brothers) and Arbousset rosé (Tesco), have fallen by the wayside because they have moved on to 2022 from the 2021 vintage I tasted. I’m sure the new vintages will be worth a try. There’s also a lack of English rosés (my fault).


A score of 93 is equivalent to a gold medal; 89–92 is silver; 85–88 is bronze.


Domaine of the Bee ‘Bee Pink’ 2022, Côtes Catalanes, France

Delightful, very pale, Provence-style rosé from the Roussillon estate of Master of Wine Justin Howard-Sneyd, who also happens to be BIB Wine’s wine selector, which made them all a bit cautious initially about taking one of his wines, in case it seemed too cosy an arrangement. They needn’t have worried. This is, as I say, a delight: a tinglingly fresh, dry blend of Grenache Noir, Grenache Gris (a grape variety the Roussillon region does so well) and Syrah (60:20:20). Think spiced raspberry and redcurrant with hints of blood orange and apricot.


I tasted the wine from a mini pouch in one of BIB Wine’s six-pouch taster packs, which they sell so that you can taste wines before you splash out on a whole box. All six were good, particularly this rosé and Domaine Reverdy-Ducroux Sancerre 2022, closely followed by Domaine Bégude Élégance Chardonnay 2022 and Domaine Julien Chantreau Javernand Chiroubles 2021.


Why buy bag-in-box? Convenience, yes, but also caring for the planet. BIB wines are sustainable and sourced direct; their carbon footprint is 10 times lower than glass bottles; their transport cuts down on carbon emissions; and the boxes, bags, taps and pouches are 100% recyclable (you get a freepost returns envelope for the taps, bags and pouches). 12.5%

90

£35.80, 2.25l box (equivalent to £11.93 a bottle), BIB Wine Co


Cantina Goccia Rosato 2022, Umbria, Italy

One of a trio of red, white and rosé wines from Umbria in a paper bottle that weighs just 83g and has a carbon footprint that's 84% lower than glass. Cantina Goccia was the first winery in the world to adopt Frugalpac’s Frugal Bottle and now uses it for 80% of its production. The rest goes into lightweight 360g bottles.


All three wines have an appealing Italian accent and are bright, contemporary and approachable. The white, my favourite – just – is a zesty, rounded Vermentino and Grechetto blend, the red is a plummy, lightly wooded Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend and this rosato is a smooth, dry, salmon-pink Pinot Noir with a smidgen of Cabernet Sauvignon and a flavour of cherry and tangy raspberries. 13%.

88

£12–£13. No stockists of the 2022 yet. Ellis Wharton Wines and Vin Van Cymru have 2021.


Wise Wolf Rosé 2022, Pays d’Oc, France

One of Banrock’s trio of wines in green, 100% post-consumer recycled glass bottles; 95.1% recycled packaging in total. The pale powder-pink blend of Grenache and Cinsault with 10 per cent Syrah has a flavour of lemon-drizzled strawberries-and-cream and a zingy, mineral finish. The other two wines are a fruity, lightly oaked Chardonnay and a ripe (slightly jammy), oaked Cabernet Sauvignon.

87


Ramón Bilbao Rosado 2023, Rioja, Spain

I tasted this immediately after the splendid Château d’Esclans Garrus 2021 (see below), which was unfair, but it was impressive how this ultra-pale Garnacha-based Rioja stood its ground. Of course, it’s not remotely in the same league as the £100+ oak-fermented Garrus, but it has a Provence-style powdery, breezy fragrance and stylish, slender-cut citrus, red berry and mineral flavours. It also goes well with food – tapenade, stuffed vine leaves, shellfish, charcuterie, pork tongue tonnato – and is very good value. 12.5%. 456g – 50g lighter than last year.

88

£8.25, Tesco


Le Bijou Rose de Sophie Valrose 2022, Coteaux de Béziers, Languedoc, France

Echoes of Provence rosé in everything but price: very pale salmon colour, delicate strawberry, peach and citrus fruit, soft rose-petal texture and zippy freshness. It’s made from hand-picked, low-yielding vines (mainly Grenache and Cinsault) and is named after a local vineyard worker who is said to have fought to improve conditions for fellow women vineyard workers in the early 20th century. Very good value. 12.5%

89

£7.99 until 22 August (down from £9.99), Waitrose


Cupiolo Pinot Grigio Blush 2022, Vignete Delle Dolomiti, Italy

A sleek, dry, perfumed and fruity, pale salmon rosé made from naturally pink tinged Pinot Grigio from vineyards high up in the sunny, Alpine Alto Adige region. Think red cherry, redcurrant and orange lightly streaked with herbs and minerals. 12.5%. 718g.

89

£10, Tesco


Laurent Miquel Alaina Rosé 2022, Pays d'Oc, France

Prettily packaged, pale, elegant and easygoing: a delicate fragrance of flowers and herbs and a silky, softly spicy palate with citrus, peach and red fruit. Alaina is named after the daughter of Laurent and Neasa Miquel, the Franco-Irish couple based at Laurent’s family estate Château Cazal Viel in Languedoc. He's the 8th generation winemaker. This wine, a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault, comes from Château Auzines, the estate the couple bought high up in Corbières in the foothills of the Pyrenees. 12.5%. 570g.

88

£8.99 until 22 August(down from £11.99), Waitrose


Domaine de Mourchon Loubié, Séguret Côtes du Rhône Villages 2022, France

The latest Loubié, a 60:40 blend of Grenache and Syrah from the McKinley family’s domaine high up in the southern Rhône, is a little deeper in colour than some vintages. Its characteristic strawberry aroma is framed in the 2022 by a fragrant note of scented clematis (montana Wilsonii) and the palate mixes cherry and piquant orange with the alluring strawberry. Good with salmon (try fennel-spiced roast salmon fillet with ginger, soy sauce and miso mayonnaise), charcuterie and roast or barbecued veg. Also delicious on its own. 13%. 396g.

90


Bird in Hand Rosé 2022, Australia

Pretty, salmon-pink, mostly Pinot Noir rosé with fruity, rose-petal aromas, juicy cherry, raspberry and cranberry fruit and a ping of orange-zest acidity. The grapes are harvested late in the evening when it’s cool from vineyards across the greater Adelaide region. Good on its own but also pairs with barbecued prawns and veg. 12.5%.

88

£13.99), Waitrose


Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2021, Rhône, France

From the renowned Guigal family, a full, creamy rich, expressive Grenache-based rosé. Candy floss pink in colour and packed with vibrant fruit (strawberry, cranberry), herbs and spice. As comforting in winter as summer. Pair it with roast vegetables, saffron chicken or seafood – and snap it up on offer. 14%. 567g.

89

£13.49, Waitrose


Famille Lafage Miraflors Rosé, Côtes Catalanes, France

A perennial favourite, the flagship rosé of Domaine Lafage, made from 75-year-old Grenache Gris and Grenache Noir and 25-year-old Mourvèdre grown in stony soils (galets roulés) close to the Med. It's broadly Provençal in style, but the Grenache Gris in particular (50 per cent of the blend) gives it its own character: apricot and strawberry with hints of nuttiness and oyster-shell minerality, orange-zest zing and a silky texture. 12.5%.

90

£14.99, Urban Grapes; £16.99, North & South Wines; £16.44, Tannico UK; £16.64, Gourmet Hunters


Calvet Sancerre Rosé 2021, Sancerre, France

Pinot Noir rosé from the region famous for its racy, dry Sauvignon Blancs. Not the most distinctive of pink Sancerres, but succulent and supple, with wild strawberry, redcurrant and ruby grapefruit, crunchy lemon, wet rocks and a touch of white pepper. Good with salmon and tuna.

88

£16.99, Waitrose


Babylonstoren Mourvèdre Rosé 2023, Western Cape, South Africa

Smoky, crunchy, sweet red-berry fruit, spice, supple texture and refreshing acidity in this southern hemisphere wine from the 2023 vintage. Provence in style, but with extra spice from the Mourvèdre, the grape variety of the high quality Bandol enclave in Provence. Small proportions of the juice were fermented in Nomblot cement eggs and terracotta clay amphorae, which has added textural interest to the main stainless steel tank-fermented component. No wonder this has been the official rosé of the Chelsea Flower Show for the last three years. 13%. 446g

90

£16.95, Harris & Co; £17.25, Frontier Fine Wines; £17.49, Novel Wines; £17.95, The Cellarhand; £17.99, The Wine Library; £18.95, Cellar Door Wines

Whispering Angel 2022, Côtes de Provence, France

This was very tight-lipped when I tasted it at the beginning of the year, but has now relaxed into flowing, floral, red fruit and vanilla-patisserie aromas and apricot and red apple on the palate. Lemon, elegantly bitter grapefruit rind and salinity provide and structure and freshness. Another impressive, appealing Whispering Angel. 13%. 596g.

91

Widely available at £15.95–£19.99. Half bottles and magnums available from Majestic and Waitrose


Knightor Pinot Noir Rosé 2022, Cornwall, England

Light-bodied, sprightly, silky textured, dry rosé from Cornwall, which I wrote about here in June. 11.5%. 409g.

89

Roseline Prestige Rosé 2022, Cotes de Provence, France

Archetypal Provence rosé: enticing strawberry, spice and floral notes with a snap of crisp citrus acidity slicing through the polish and smoothness. This is the first certified organic vintage from a large, sustainable estate owned and managed, like Château des Demoiselles (below), by Aurélie Bertin. 13%, 551g.

90

£18, Ocado


Domaine de l’Ile Porquerolles Rosé 2022, Côtes de Provence, France

The 2020 harvest was all over before the end of August at Chanel’s (yes, that Chanel) wine estate on the tiny, wild, car-free island of Porquerolles. The rosé is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Mourvèdre with – secret weapon – five per cent Tibouren. The warmth of the year has given lovely exuberance to the fruit (red apple, apricot, peach) and spice, while the surrounding sea and overnight dews have given the hydration necessary for briny mineral purity and a freshening bite of bitterness. (Read more here about Chanel’s purchase and plans for Domaine de l’Ile.) 13%. 409g – impressively light for a luxury brand.

91.5

£19, Bon Coeur Fine Wines; £19.99, Marlo Wine; £22.79, Vinatis UK

Château des Demoiselles Rosé 2022, Côtes de Provence, France

Like sister winery Château Sainte Roseline (above), this is the first certified organic vintage at Château des Demoiselles, a 300-hectare estate, with 72ha under vine, in the Esclans Valley. The estate is part of a Natura 2000 site that protects valuable and threatened European floral and fauna. This is classic Provence rosé: buoyant peach and raspberry coulis aromas and appetite-whetting Cantaloupe melon and pink-grapefruit tingle. 13%. 499g.

89

rrp £24.99; I have yet to find a stockist of the 2022 in the UK, but they may well come along soon on wine-searcher.com


Château d’Esclans 2021, Côtes de Provence, France

Scented summer-garden nose with an inviting hint of juniper berry. Rich, pure fruit on the palate with discreet, toasted vanilla and oak, a silky texture and fine acidity. Elegantly shaped and well-balanced. Primarily Grenache and Rolle (Vermentino) vinified in a combination of 600-litre oak barrels and stainless steel. 13.5%. 978g – ouch!

91.5

£44.95, Cellar Door Wines; £49.99; Harrogate Wines; £52.80, Hedonism


Château d'Esclans Les Clans 2021, Côtes de Provence, France

Mainly free-run juice from 50-plus year old Grenache, Rolle (Vermentino) and Syrah, fermented and aged for 10 months, with bâtonnage, in 600-litre oak barrels (one and two year old). The oak is still quite pronounced on both nose and palate, but not so that it overwhelms the floral, apricot and raspberry fruit, the creamy, close-textured richness, citrus sweetness and core of acidity. It will be better in a year, but is already a serious fine wine when given time to breathe in the glass. A good match for lobster and rich seafood dishes, vitello tonnato and pork ragù with capers. 14%. 975g –ouch again!

93


Château d’Esclans Garrus 2021, Côtes de Provence, France

I tasted this at 8ºC and 12ºC and then drank it at 12º+C. By all means serve it cooler if you like, but the higher temperature allows this young, tightly wound, oak-fermented and matured rosé to uncoil and express itself. And you’ll want to let it do that because it’s an exceptional wine: reminiscent of white Burgundy in its hazelnut and mineral aromas, buttery taste and silky texture, but with added orange pomander, exotic spice and incense. It’s intense, complex, powerful and balanced with an impeccable interplay of fruit, acidity and oak. Designed to go with food – lobster, salmon, pork, veal, lamb chops, savoury dishes in cream sauce and so on. Drink from now to 2033, if stored in cellar conditions. 14.5%. 979g – and ouch yet again!

95

£99.90, Vinatis UK; £119 (in any 6-bottle mix), Majestic; £120, Clos19; £124.95, Master or Malt; £125, Woodwinters; £125, Cellar Door Wines; £129.95, Secret Bottle Shop; £160, Hedonism; see wine-searcher.com for more stockists.


New wine glass range

The aim of the four mouth-blown Josephinenhütte wine glasses designed by Kurt Josef Zalto is "to unlock new taste dimensions". Described as elegant, thin-walled, lightweight, robust yet resilient, the glasses (for red, white, Champagne and universal) are said to amplify the flavour and bouquet of each wine. The "visionary" part of the design, or a key element of it, is the "bent bowl": the bowl is pinched in – has a kink – part way up (see the photo of Garrus above in Josephine No. 2, the universal glass).


They are odd looking, but do they work? My limited testing so far, in initially sceptical mood, suggests that the universal and Champagne glass can do. The Garrus 2021 was more expressive on the nose, more intense and complex than it was in the Riedel Chianti Classico glass that has been my standard for tasting for decades. It also appeared to be silkier in texture, which I really can't explain.


I had the same experience with two Champagnes in the Champagne glass, but I need to test more wines in all four glasses. With hindsight, I should probably have tested the Garrus in the larger diameter Josephine No. 3, designed for full-bodied, complex wines. I shall test and report back.


Photographs by Joanna Simon


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