Wine drinkers are in the pink with summery rosé
PUBLISHED: 10:44 28 July 2020 | UPDATED: 10:44 28 July 2020
July and August are a cornucopia of pleasure with pale, paler and palest southern French wines - but serve them cool says expert Liz
For the past month I’ve been, almost literally, in the pink. It has been a proper pleasure.
Rosé fashion these days is pale, paler, palest – and those are my favourites, rather than the deeper-coloured fruit-bomb styles. There’s often a wonderful elegance and freshness when red grapes are very lightly pressed, removed quickly from their skins and treated with gentle coolness in the cellar. (Remember, very few red grapes indeed have red juice, so white or palest pink wines can come from even a deeply red-skinned harvest.)
Provence, of course, has set the pale benchmark, and its wines continue to soar in popularity. And in price. Instead, look next door, to Languedoc, increasingly a serious rival.
That’s where many of the rosés I’ve been enjoying have come from.
There are lovely wines which follow Provence’s classic blend of grenache, syrah, cinsault and mourvèdre – one of the very best is organic grower Domaine Gayda’s La Menuette (£15, cambridgewine.com), complex yet subtle and so enjoyable.
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Great, too, is the pure cinsault, Rosé des Papilles (£10.50, thedrinkshop.com) a southern expression of Beaujolais star Henry Fessy’s skill: zesty fruit with a clean, almost salty edge.
But there is remarkable innovation, too, with the use of grape varieties unexpected so far south or ones few drinkers have ever previously encountered. It’s not only independent, individualistic growers who are taking that route; intriguing examples also come from such larger-scale operations as Vignobles Foncalieu, the co-operative grouping of almost 700 Languedoc growers.
They offer a sauvignon gris, for example, a cabernet franc – and a picpoul noir. That’s the rare dark sibling of the picpoul blanc which Mediterranean holidaymakers (and many Brits once home) match with local oysters.
Foncalieu Picpoul Rosé (£10, tanners-wines.co.uk, henningswine.co.uk) has restrained melon and red fruit aromas, crisp, creamy and smoothly intense fruit flavours with a mineral-edged finish.
At the co-op’s top operation, up in the Corbières hills, Domaine Haut Gléon (£15, kendrickwines.co.uk), from the happily named Vallée du Paradis regional appellation, is an eclectic blend: cabernet, merlot, pinot, sauvignon gris and marselan.
The result is meadow-scented with fresh, balanced fruit and memorable length.
Further north west, Maison Ventenac exploits the cross-region grape choices permitted in the Cabardès area to blend cabernet sauvignon and grenache to tasty yet restrained effect in Trève Estivale (£14.50-£17, winebuyers.com, redsquirrelwine.com).
Browse merchants, and there will be many more. But whichever rosé you choose, two simple rules: buy the 2019 vintage (age is rarely an asset) and serve it very cool. Remember, as well, these are not merely aperitif wines – they’re perfect summery food partners.
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