Now that winemakers all around the world treat rosé with as much respect as red and white wines, there are so many good rosés in such a diversity of styles that I'm dividing this year's round-up into two posts, with a cross section of styles, grape varieties and origins in each. And in a break with the past, I'm going from high to low in price this year because I don't want the more expensive pink wines (the first five in particular) to be missed. Scroll to the bottom and go in reverse order if you're looking for good value inexpensive rosés.
Before I start, if you're a trade buyer or a rosé drinker wanting to focus exclusively and in depth on the south of France, I recommend Elizabeth Gabay's Buyer's Guide to the Rosés of Southern France (€20). It contains hundreds of recommendations with tasting notes for wines from the 2020 vintage, ranging from €2 bottles to those costing €100+, and there's useful accompanying information on the regions, winemaking, flavours and so on. Liz is a Master of Wine (MW) with whom I've tasted rosés for Decanter magazine several times. There may not be anyone who knows much more about the world's rosés. (Buy Gabay's guide here.)
Donnafugata Sul Vulcano Etna Rosato 2020, Etna, Italy
Made from Nerello Macalese grown on Etna's high altitudes volcanic-soil slopes, this is deliciously individual rosé that works very well with food and without (think tuna ceviche, prawns, charcuterie, salads, pork chops). Pale salmon, vividly fresh and mineral with redcurrant, red cherry and pink grapefruit, distinctive smoky minerality, a fine-sand texture and incisive acidity. It will drink well over the next few years. 12.5%
£28.85 + taxes (free shipping for 7 or more bottles), Donnafugata's wineplatform
Domaine de l'Île 2020, Côtes de Provence, France
Another island wine: this one from lilliputian Porquerolles, which is part of the Côtes de Provence appellation, and from an estate now owned by Chanel (I've posted a separate blog about how and why Chanel came to buy Domaine de l'Ile here).
A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Tibouren. Medium-pale powder-pink with an alluring nose of old English roses and ripe strawberries. The palate is creamy and rounded but streaked with herbal and Seville orange freshness and with saline and mineral notes. I drank it with a Louisiana shrimp boil, which was hot enough to be a challenge for any wine, but it sailed through unscathed. It also went well with a savoury tart that included artichokes (another challenge), leeks, tomatoes, lardons and blue cheese. 12.5%.
£27.50, Harvey Nichols
Rock Angel 2020, Côtes de Provence, France
Subtle, creamy, roast almond and walnut flavours (from partial barrel fermentation) wrapped in peach and orange fruit and a long, saline finish. It's complex, finely structured, balanced and textured and, although perfect now – and good with food – there's no hurry to drink it. As delicious as it is impressive. 13.5%
Clos Venturi On the QT Bin 17 Sciaccarello Rosé 2018, Corsica, France
A third island wine (see Donnafugata and Domaine de l'Île above) and one of my absolute favourite rosés this year. A peach-coloured Corsican made from amphora-fermented Sciaccarello (Tuscany's Mammolo grape) by Domaine Vico. Beautiful, pure aromas, gently spicy apricot and citrus flavours, a hint of bitterness adding complexity, and an impeccable silky texture thanks to the amphorae. Lovely on its own, but good with food: sits well alongside light chicken coconut-milk curries and roast vegetables. 12.5%
L'Exubérance Rosé du Clos Cantenac2020, Bordeaux
Medium-pale powder-pink Merlot with a delicate nose and a palate that lives up to its name but is also refined, layered and creamy textured. The flavours move through succulent raspberry and peach, to apricot, redcurrant and spice, to vanilla and orange zest and finally to a long, subtly mineral and citrus finish. Take your time over it. 13%
£19.80, Private Cellar
Whispering Angel 2020, Côtes de Provence, France
Pale but not too pale. Fragrant, floral, peach and red cherry aromas – very inviting. Airy, fresh palate with citrus (grapefruit and orange zest) joining the peach and red cherry, and the supple, silky texture that distinguishes good Provence rosé. Well sustained, slowly coming to a finish with salty citrus freshness and a touch of peppery herb. Complete and satisfying – and will only get better over the coming months. 13%
£16.95–£18.99, widely available
Coolhurst Côtes de Provence 2020, France
A Provence rosé for fans of a fleshier, rounder, softer-textured style than the leaner, more mineral, saline and herbal styles that have become so fashionable (too fashionable perhaps?). The pale peach colour – Provence through and through – leads into a heady peony fragrance and creamy, peach, strawberry and spice flavours, with a citrus undertow giving it structure. A welcome variation. 12.5%.
£14.99, Coolhurst Vineyards
Domaine de la Noblaie Chinon Goutte de Rosé, Chinon, France
Very pale salmon. Peach, apricot, spice and red berry flavours. Airy, fresh and supple; a sophisticated but approachable Loire rosé made from the estate's youngest Cabernet Franc vines. 13%
£14.95 (£13.25 per 12), Haynes Hanson & Clark
Viñas del Vero Pinot Noir Rosé 2019, Somontano, Spain
Sweet scented and soft-textured with strawberry, rose and touches of vanilla (not from oak) and orange peel. Rounded, fresh, full of charm and well balanced. 12.5%
£13.99, The Oxford Wine Co
The Pale by Sacha Lichine 2020, Vin de Pays du Var 2020, France
A new wine from Sacha Lichine, presented in a very different way from Whispering Angel and the other Esclans wines but not just a pretty package. Behind the New Yorker Magazine-style roaring 20s label, the screw cap and the embossed punt, there's a very pale (no surprise there), dry, fruity Provence rosé with spice, red berries and a soft, downy peach-skin texture. 12.5%
Nature Secrète Saint Mont Rosé 2020, France
This is a new organic and vegan wine from Saint-Mont, an appellation in Gascony that deserves to be much better known for all its wines – whites, reds and rosés, almost all made by the admirable Plaimont group of co-operatives from local grape varieties. In this case Tannat, Pinenc (aka Fer, Braucol and Mansois) and Cabernet Sauvignon come together in delicately textured strawberry, cream and spice flavours and a crunchy, redcurrant finish. I enjoyed it with a rose veal chop flavoured with sage. 12.5%. (See also Les Bois Mathieu below.)
£9.99, House of Townend
The Society's Corsican Rosé, Corsica, France
It speaks volumes about the individuality of Corsica's rosés in the hands of good producers that there are two in this round-up. The Society's pale powder-pink wine, made by Sizzoni the family, is a blend of 70% Sciaccarellu and 27% Niellucciu with a smidgen of Cinsault. It's bone-dry and marshals its spice, rhubarb, red berry and wild herb flavours with real refinement. 13.5%.
£9.95, The Wine Society
Foncalieu Piquepoul Rosé 2020, Coteaux d'Ensérune, Languedoc, France
The previous vintage of this palest of rosés was Tanner's star rosé seller last summer. I can see why. It's strawberries in a glass with a squeeze of red cherry and lively acidity – and it's made from the rare Piquepoul Noir grape.
£9.95, or £8.95 for 6 or more, Tanners; £9.95, Wickhams Wine
Anciano Garnacha Rosado 2020, Campo de Borja, Spain
Candy pink. Bright, juicy, smooth and dry with red cherry, red apple and spice flavours, good weight and freshness. A new Garnacha (aka Grenache) from Norrel Robertson (aka 'The Flying Scotsman'). Good value, and even more so at £5.99 – watch out for special offers. 13.5%
£7.99, Waitrose and waitrosecellar
Laurent Miquel Vendanges Nocturnes Rosé Classic 2020, Vin de Pays d'Oc, France
Pale salmon, pretty floral and vanilla perfume, lightweight, smooth palate with delicate peach, spice and orange notes and nippy acidity. Grenache based with 20% each Cinsault and Syrah. 12.5%
Les Bois Mathieu Saint Mont Rosé 2020, France
Very pale and bone dry with delicate summer-pudding aromas, a squeeze of zesty orange and a rounded texture, produced from 60% Pinenc (aka Fer, Braucol and Mansois) blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat and Caberent Franc and lees aged for around 5 months. Another example (see Nature Secrète above) of how well suited parts of Gascony's small Saint Mont appellation are to producing rosés, as well as whites and reds.
£7.50, The Wine Society
HUN Pale Rosé, Western Cape, South Africa
Not only in a can, but the first Fairtrade wine in a can. Just off-dry with sweet raspberry and red cherry fruit, an attractive slightly smoky edge and grapefruit acidity. Well-made, easy to drink and good value.
£2.50 for a 250ml can, Tesco
Photographs by Joanna Simon