I've never seen so many good rosé wines and so much variety of style, origin and grape variety (never mind colour) as I've seen this year, and that's in spite of the last couple of vintages being tricky in the world's pre-eminent rosé region, Provence. Below are 18 of my favourites pinks. To keep things manageable, I've (reluctantly) excluded all but one sparkling and my two recent rosé Wines of the Week, Pink Chôt and Ramón Bilbao Rosado. But I have included Ramón Bilbao's top-line Lalomba.
Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2018, France
Southern Rhône rosé from the famous Guigal family. Grenache-based with some Cinsault for perfume and a smidgen of Syrah to fill it out. Medium-bodied with strawberry and redcurrant fruit, a hint of cranberry, fresh herbs and citrus acidity. 12.5%.
11.50€ plus shipping (from France), vinatis.co.uk; the Birmingham branch of Selfridges may still have a few bottles left, £14.99. News of further UK stockists would be welcome.
Off The Line Hip Rosé 2018, East Sussex, England
Sheer delight – and a great label too. Pinot Noir from the Weald, East Sussex and the sensational summer of 2018. Gentle blossom and citrus aromas. Delicate creamy texture, crisp citrus and redcurrant flavours and a streak of minerality – and all this at only 10.5% alcohol. Very accomplished.
£15.99, John Lewis Foodhall Oxford Street and Canary Wharf; Waitrose & partners stores in Sussex
Príncipe de Viana Edición Rosa 2018, Navarra, Spain
Single-vineyard Garnacha (ake Grenache) from Navarra. Fresh, sprightly and well-rounded with good depth of lightly spiced red-berry and citrus fruit. 13%
No known UK stockist. Under 10€ in Europe.
Ramón Bilbao Lalomba Rioja Rosado 2018, Spain
The bodega's top of the range, stylish, pale, Provençal rosé from Garnacha vineyards on stony soils at a lofty, but sheltered, 700m. Jasmine and peach aromas, peach on the palate with a seam of minerality, grapefruit acidity and a fine chalky texture. 13%.
£23.50, Great Western Wine
Cave D’Esclans Whispering Angel 2018, Côtes de Provence, France
You wouldn’t know from this wine that 2018 was a difficult vintage in Provence. Once again, Sacha Lichine’s Cave D’Esclans team has produced a classic, pale, dry, supple Provence rosé – floral, herb, citrus and mineral-edged. 13%.
£16.25, Hennings; £17.99 in any mix of 6 bottles, Majestic; £19.95, Jeroboams; £9.99 half-bottle, Waitrose
Rostro Sonrosado Organic Tempranillo Rosé 2018, Utiel Requeña, Spain
Mouthwatering debut vintage of this salmon-pink Spanish rosado – rosehip and juicy red berries on the nose, tangy cherries, pink grapefruit and rhubarb on the palate and a flicker of bitterness that makes it all the more food-friendly. 12.5%
rrp £10.99, D Byrne & Co, Hanging Ditch, vin-est…
Lyme Bay Pinot Noir Rosé 2018, England
Another English Pinot Noir from the stellar 2018 vintage, but the polar opposite stylistically of the pale Hip Rosé (above). This, made with grapes from a vineyard in Essex by Devon’s Lyme Bay winery, is as exuberant in flavour as in colour – all summer-pudding fruit, bright acidity and medium-dry edging to medium, rather than dry. 12.6%
Miguel Torres Las Mulas Cabernet Sauvignon Organic Rosé 2018, Central Valley, Chile
Deep-coloured, approachable, full-flavoured, fresh and dry with typical Cabernet flavours of cassis and currant leaves. Snap up while on offer. 13%
On offer at £6.99 until 13 August (down from £9.39), Waitrose
Foncalieu Griset 2018, Pays d’Oc, France
Made from Sauvignon Gris, a naturally pink-skinned mutation of Sauvignon Blanc, which has more perfume and roundness than the white original, but retains citrus vibrancy. 12%
£10.95, Saxtys Wines Secret Bottle Shop
Rosa dei Masi 2017/18, Rosato Trevenezie, Italy
I wouldn’t normally do a split vintage, but when I posted this blog last week I hadn’t had a chance to taste the 2018 that most retailers have moved on to. I’ve now been able to taste it (and photograph it – scroll down to see) and am delighted to report that it’s every bit as good as the 2017, with ample cherry, rose-hip, spice and tangy cranberry flavours emerging from a deep copper-pink colour and soft-textured smoothness. It’s made from Refosco, a variety local to the Veneto and Friuli, and a small proportion of the grapes is semi-dried which is what gives the attractive, caressing mouthfeel. 12.5%
2018: £12.79, All About Wine; £14.64, Tannico; £14.95, winedirect; £86 per 6 bottles, Corking Wines
2017: £14.60, Toscanaccio
M/S Sangiovese Rosé, Akluj, Maharashtra, India
Zippy, fresh, but rounded with spicy, cherry fruit – and from India of all places. The key is the altitude of the vineyards (650m) and the ripening and picking of the grapes at the end of January before the monsoons. It’s a joint venture between Tuscan winemaker Piero Masi (not the Veneto Masi family above) and wine writer and Dorset wine producer Steven Spurrier; hence the name M/S. 12.5%
£14.99, The Bottleneck Broadstairs. For other stockists, contact libertywines.co.uk, 020 7720 5350, and they’ll be able to direct you to your nearest
Domaine de Mourchon Loubié Rosé 2018, Séguret Côtes du Rhône Villages, France
I’ve picked two previous vintages of this estate-grown, old-vine Grenache and Syrah blend (2017 and 2015) for my Wine of the Week slot and I’m no less enamoured of the 2018. Effortlessly fresh, wild strawberry, cranberry, spice and herb flavours. 13%
£10.95, The Wine Society; £13.99, Averys
Domaine Audebert et Fils Bourgeuil Rosé 2018, France
Cabernet Franc grapes produce some lovely, fresh, dry rosés in the Loire, but mostly they're used for red wines. I drank this leafy cassis and raspberry scented Bourgueil in a restaurant in Chartres and haven’t found it in the UK, but it’s worth looking out for it if you’re in the Loire Valley or California (where it sells for around $18) and worth looking out for other 2018 Bourgueil rosés in the UK. 13%
Château D’Esclans Garrus 2017, Côtes de Provence, France
Sacha Lichine’s top wine – a beautifully layered, complex pale rosé made from old Grenache (predominantly) and using techniques from Burgundy, including fermentation, ageing and bâtonnage in barrel. 14%. (There's more on the estate and all its wines in last year's Peerless Provence blog.)
Simpsons Estate Rosé 2018, Kent, England
Another English Pinot Noir from last year’s stunning vintage (see Hip Rosé and Lyme Bay above). Provençal style – very pale with crisp strawberry and lemon-zest fruit and a silky texture. If you can't find it in Waitrose, Charles Simpson says that the estate's Railway Hill Rosé 2018 is an "almost identical" Pinot Noir (£117 for 6 bottles, simpsonswine.com). 12.5%
£13.99, 32 Waitrose branches, mainly around London and Kent, and John Lewis Foodhall Oxford Street
Cavit Terrazze della Luna Pinot Grigio Rosato 2018, Vigneti Delle Dolimiti, Italy
Like the French Griset rosé above, the natural pale peach colour here reflects the pale copper colour of the ripe grapes – in this case Pinot Grigio. Then it’s delicate red berries and herbs on the nose and a soft, blossomy apricot and spice palate and crisp, lightly mineral finish. 12.5%
£8.99, North & South Wines; £8.99, Kwoff Wine Shop; £9.50, Toscanaccio
Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé 2018, France
Sophisticated, pale, dry Mourvèdre-blend from the Provence appellation of Bandol. Medium-bodied and silky textured with spicy strawberry and blackcurrant flavours, herbal freshness and a long finish. 13%
£28.95 (£25.95 in a mixed dozen), Lea & Sandeman
Simonnet-Febvre Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé Brut
I couldn't resist including one fizz – a traditional-method (like Champagne) Pinot Noir Crémant from the Chablis region. It was aged for two years (double the legal minimum) and is all elegance, cherry, raspberry and citrus flavours. 12%
£16.95, Saxtys Wines Secret Bottle Shop; £17.03, TheDrinkShop
Photographs by Joanna Simon