I am not alone. 11% of the wine we drink in this country is rosé. We spend around £3.3m on it. So quite a few of us must be pretty keen.
Personally, I love rosé – a phrase you won’t find many wine professionals shouting from the roof tops – but with caveats. It shouldn’t be sweet (most of the time, there are always exceptions) and it shouldn’t be heavy.
I have a particular penchant for well-made Côtes de Provence pinks whose colour alone is tantalisingly appealing, whose aromas make you think of rose petals, strawberries and raspberries, summer smells in a glass really, and whose flavours are bright, vibrant and refreshing. Surprisingly the sales figures show that we drink rosé all year round and not just in the warmer months but I can’t help thinking that May to September is the perfect time to enjoy these wines, partly due to the weather and partly due to the fact that the wines have had time to settle after bottling in April and are then beautifully fresh and still wonderfully fruity.
Provence claims to be the oldest wine region in France with a history of wine-making, principally rosé, going back 2600 years – they should know what they are doing then! The grapes used are Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan and Rolle along with a few others, all red grapes which are de-stemmed, lightly crushed then macerated for between 2 and 20 hours until the desired colour and aromas are extracted from the skins. The grapes are then pressed and fermentation takes place in temperature stainless steel tanks. It may seem all too easy but rosés can be the most tricky of wines to make to obtain just the right amount of flavour and colour without extracting too many of the heavy tannins you find in red wines. When done properly the wines are delicate, dry and crisp often with a lively spicy finish and the best are complex and show a gorgeous finesse about them.
They work brilliantly with the oily Mediterranean dishes of the area as well as (almost) all things pink – think lobster, prawns, ham, summer pudding.
If Provence is your holiday destination of choice, bear in mind that the wines can taste just as good at home. Exports to the UK have risen 82% in recent years so there are plenty of Cótes de Provence rosés around to see if they hit the spot for you and if they do and you want to push the boat out, try these pink gems:
Miraval 2013 (Brangelina’s winery and very nice it is too) £17.99 Majestic, £13.19 Costco
Château de Léoube, Secret de Léoube 2013 £21 Bibendum
Château d’Esclans 2013 £22.95 Jeroboams
BYWine has a Posh Pinks tasting on 2nd July in central Birmingham where you will have the opportunity to taste over 20 rosés from around the world, including the three above, ranging in price from £15 to £60. To book, go to the events page.