It’s high summer and that can only mean one thing: death by rosé. At the barbecues and on the patios of England, pink wine is being served by the gallon. We all smile politely and neglect to tell our hosts that most of it is barely drinkable.
Like others I have always been a rosé sceptic. While it may look pretty in the glass, the fact is many of the pink wines I’ve tasted over the years have been downright nasty, and not even a sunny day and a piece of chargrilled meat could convince me otherwise. Even when it’s drinkable, it tends to be neither Arthur nor Martha. It lacks the finesse and elegance of a Chablis for example, or the body and complexity of a Claret. It’s a shame, really, since there’s evidence rosé was the first wine ever made and it was drunk by the ancient Greeks as they warred and philosophised.
On Monday however, accompanied by my usual tasting homies, we tackled a set of rosé wines that went some way to challenging – if not entirely shattering – our prejudices.
There were a few disasters. The Ogio Pinot Grigio from Italy (Tesco £5.99) was condemned as “nasty, bland and sour”, while a Vina Albali was dubbed “rough medicine”.
But there were a series of pleasing discoveries. The first was the sheer variety of rosé on offer from the nation’s vintners – from the traditional southern French wines, through the rest of Europe and onto the New World. No grape type, it seems, is too proud to go pink.
The second was that there are some great rosé wines out there – if you are prepared to pay a little extra. Three stood out.
The first is the Cune Rioja Roful (hints of its red Rioja cousin plus a pleasing freshness). Second, there’s the Les Pins Couchés Rosé 2013 from Jean-Luc Colombo (£9.99 Partridges of Sloane St) which is the quintessential summer wine – light and inoffensive, but with a satisfying tang from the Syrah grape skins.
But my favourite by far was the Sancerre, Joseph Mellot Rose 2013 (£16.99 Famous Wines). Call me a heathen but I wasn’t even aware they produced rosé in Sancerre. But this was a lovely wine with complexity and length, a Pinot Noir would you believe which had lightness and body at the same time.
If you are a bit flash though, there is really only one pink wine for you and that is Chateau Miraval (£18.00 Lay & Wheeler). This wine is famous because of its owners, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who bought the estate in 2008. Not content with sunbathing on the terrace, they set about creating a special rosé by working with the renowned vigneron Marc Perrin. It is now regularly voted one of the world’s top wines. It is delicious, combining the freshness of summer with fruit and intensity you rarely find in a white wine. Stocks of Miraval are short so you need to move sharpish to secure your supply. Make sure you do; this wine should be right at the top of your summer “to do” list.