Another summer, another round-up of delicious dry rosés, plus a featherweight, lightly sparkling sweet wine from Italy and a pink Champagne that I wasn't familiar with and which hugely impressed me recently.
There are lots of different styles, shades, flavours and grape varieties, but it has turned out to be an almost all-European selection this year, reflecting the limitations the pandemic has imposed on tastings, travel and trade. The one exception (perhaps ironically) is from China.
I’ve included one Côtes du Rhône for which I haven't yet found a stockist of the latest (2019) vintage and I'm kicking off with two wines that aren’t sold in the UK, but which I hope will be before long. Otherwise, the wines are listed in price order (give or take a few pence) and I've set an upper limit of £20 this year, excluding the Champagne.
Bottega Vinai Schiava Gentile 2018, Trentino, Italy
A delight of a copper-pink rosé made from the local Schiava grape by the admirable CAVIT, the leading co-operative in the mountainous Trentino region. Soft textured, but crunchy fresh with flavours of rose hip, cranberry, sour cherry and a Seville orange bitter twist. 12%.
CAVIT's UK agent doesn't currently import this, although does have other have other wines from the select Bottega Vinai range.
Château Les Bois Mathieu 2019, Saint Mont, France
The stellar first vintage of a very pale rosé from a 2-hectare plot in the hidden-away appellation of Saint Mont in southwest France. It's a blend of Pinenc (aka Fer, Braucol and Mansois), Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Tannat with 10% of the local white Petit Courbu. The four red varieties were previously used for red wine, but there was a problem with high alcohol levels (summer days are very hot in this plot), so the creative people at Plaimont decided to make a rosé, picking the grapes when only just ripe. The wine is beautifully expressive, with apricot and peach fruit, a nutty undertow and vanilla-pod spiciness (although there's no oak) and a luxuriously fine, creamy texture. 13%.
Montgravet Cinsault Rosé 2019, Pays d'Oc, France
A lively, pale, dry and fruity Cinsault with red cherry, apple, spice and orange-zest flavours. Doesn't need food but is surprisingly versatile with it. Very good value. 12%
Laurent Miquel Vendanges Nocturnes Cinsault Syrah 2019, Pays d'Oc, France
Harvested in the cool of the night to preserve the freshness and fruit expression of the Cinsault and Syrah grapes. Crisp and deft with floral, peach and spice aromas. Ideal as an aperitif, but versatile with summery food , including with a touch of rose harissa. 12.5%
£6.69 on offer until August 25, then back to £8.99, Waitrose
El Viaje de Ramón Garnacha Rosé 2019, Rioja, Spain
A pale, easygoing, supple Rioja rosado with a rose-oil fragrance and delicate red fruit. For more details, including food pairings, click here: Wine of the Week. 12.5%
£8, selected Co-op
Muga Rioja Rosado 2019, Spain
A rounded but crisp Garnacha-based Rioja that draws you in with its pale salmon colour then keeps you interested with an appetising whiff of smoky bacon/smoked paprika (nothing to do with oak – there is none) and a wild strawberry, cream and peach palate. Head for the barbecue and accompanying salads or take it on a picnic. 13.5%
£9.50, The Wine Society
Rosa di Santa Tresa 2019, Terre Siciliane, Italy
This organic Sicilian blend of Frappato and Nero d'Avola was last week's Wine of the Week, so it goes without saying that I highly recommend it. Click Wine of the Week for full details.
£9.74 in any 6-bottle mix (£12.99, single bottle), Majestic
Domaine de Mourchon Loubié Rosé 2019, Séguret Côtes du Rhône Villages, France
The McKinley family's Grenache-based rosé from their estate in the spectacular, high village of Séguret is always a treat. Salmon pink and supple textured, with rose, redcurrant and spice on the nose, a creamy, spicy, cherry-fruited palate and a refreshing twist of bitter-orange on the finish. Enjoyable with or without food: it went well with both dressed crab and prosciutto.
Adnams Provence Rosé 2018, Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence, France
Floral aromas, red berry and spice flavours in a notably pure, elegant style. Made for Adnams by Emanuelle Baude on her organic estate from Syrah with 20% each of Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. It was highly commended, with a score of 90, in a blind tasting of 178 Provence rosés I did with Elizabeth Gabay MW and Rod Smith MW for Decanter magazine's August issue (out now) – and it was the cheapest wine in the tasting. Bravo! 12.5%
Ricasoli Albia Rosé 2019, Toscana, Italy
Very pale, delicately floral and red berry scented blend of Sangiovese and Merlot from the Ricasoli estate vineyards. Fresh, soft-textured and medium-bodied palate with white peach and orangey citrus flavours. Ideal as an aperitif, but also good with smoked salmon blinis. 13%
Finest Sancerre Rosé 2019, France
Fournier Père et Fils make this very good Pinot Noir rosé for Tesco (which the eagle-eyed will spot is sporting a mock-up label above). It's vibrant and crisp, but fleshy too, showing the ripeness of the vintage while keeping the Pinot integrity. Cherry, strawberry and redcurrant with delicate spiciness. A lovely aperitif, but wouldn't flinch at poached salmon with hollandaise sauce. 12.5%
Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2018, France
This and the next wine make an interesting comparison: two Côtes du Rhônes from leading Rhône négociants, but different vintages and blends. This Grenache-based blend (with 20% Cinsault and 10% Syrah) has become less obviously fruity since last year. It still has some floral and herb top-notes but has broadened out and become more savour and spicy, making it more of a food rosé than an aperitif wine. A good partner for roast vegetables and leek dishes, but it also went well with lightly smoked mussels in a saffron cream sauce and, to my surprise, wasn't outplayed by roast goose.(Roast goose? In high summer? Knowing I was going to be in self-isolation in France for 14 days, I took a frozen goose with me.) 12.5%
£11.75, Fareham Wine Cellar; £13.17, Vinatis; £70.80 for 6, Vinvm
Vidal-Fleury Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2019, France
Cinsault is dominant here (50%, with 30% Syrah and 10% Grenache) giving a pale colour, pretty peach and red berry aromas, an elegant, fresh palate of juicy peach flecked with apricot, orange and ginger and a clean-lined finish. Best as an aperitif. 13.5%
£13-£15, no confirmed stockist of the 2019 yet.
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence 2019, France
The popular flagship of the Esclans stable (now 55% owned by luxury goods group LVMH). Fresh floral, dried flower and spice aromas; medium-full with a creamy texture, crème fraiche flavour and herb and mineral finish. Had slightly tart acidity when I first tasted it in early March, but it's bedded in now. Grenache-led with Cinsault and Syrah. Always reliable. 13.5%
Château Beaulieu Cuvée Alexandre Rosé 2019, Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence
A rounded, creamy texture with spice and nuttiness (suggesting oak, but apparently it's unoaked) balanced by red berry intensity, a hint of orange and zesty acidity. This is another wine (like Adnams Provence above) that we highly commended with a score of 90 in the Decanter tasting. And it's another containing Cabernet Sauvignon – 28% here in a blend with 42% Grenache and the rest Syrah. 13%
Chateau Changyu Moser XV Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc de Noir 2018, Ningxia, China
Bone dry but opulent in fruit and texture and with white pepper spice and grapefruit bite. A true original and former Wine of the Week. 14%
MAÏA 2019, Côtes de Provence 2019, France
How many Masters of Wine does it take to oversee the blending of a Côtes de Provence rosé? Two in this case and they've done a great job in the creation of this new rosé. It's a five-way blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, Rolle (aka Vermentino) and Mourvèdre from old vineyards and has a particularly lovely texture cosseting floral and peach melba flavours and lasting acidity. 13%
Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Aqui 2018, Piemonte, Italy
I'm cheating a bit here because this sprightly, light, sweet fizz is really a red wine, but it's such a summery number I couldn't bear to leave it out. Made from the Brachetto grape, it's a peal of rose petals, strawberries, cherries and fresh grapes – and just the ticket for strawberries, Eton mess, summer pudding, fruit salads or ice cream. 7%
Gosset Grand Rosé Brut Champagne, France
I tasted this last week and loved it – from the fleeting whiff of peony to the succulent fruit (redcurrant, raspberry, peach), the suggestion of exotic spice and the fine acid backbone. It's wonderfully approachable, so works as an aperitif, but has the depth and frame to go with food: it would raise the tone of any picnic (and the spirits of the picnickers). 12%
Photographs by Joanna Simon