With the best summer wines putting their straw hats on, Christine Austin chooses her favourite rosés.

If the sun is shining then you need pink wine in your glass, but our unpredictable weather means that you first have to find your favourite rosé wine and get it in the fridge, ready for when the sun decides to shine. Pale, subtle, and definitely chilled, rosé is the wine for garden parties, picnics, weddings and lunches on the lawn.

In the last few years rosé has had a personality change. Many used to be deep pink, almost red, but now it is almost as if rosés as a group have been wearing straw hats to protect themselves from the sun.  Delicate, almost hardly there, with just a light shading of pink, while still retaining their pure, characterful flavours of wild strawberries and summer flowers they can charm their way across any summer lunch table.  Provence has grabbed most of the headlines for rosé wine, but other regions are learning how to make their wines pale and interesting too.

Prices have changed too.  Rosé used to be the cheap and cheerful addition to a picnic.  Now it is the guest of honour, some arriving in their best designer bottles, looking elegant and expensive, with tastes to match.

If you are splashing out on a top-notch rosé, then you will need to lift your lunch beyond the usual quiche and salad.  These are wines that demand whole roast salmon, grilled langoustines, crunchy, vibrant superfood salads and quality dressings.

Remember that rosé wine is best when it is fresh, so rattle the bottles on the shelves to make sure you get the latest vintage.

As always I have been looking for the best flavour for money, so here is my baker’s dozen of perfect pinks.

Garnacha Rosé 2017, Campo de Borja, Spain, Tesco £4.30

Astonishingly good value, this is full of strawberry fruit with a creamy rounded style.  Perfectly good enough for garden parties, large gatherings or a sitting-on-the-ground kind of picnic.

 

Exquisite Collection Sud de France Rosé, 2017 £5.99 Aldi

This arrives in store in a couple of weeks and you will need to snap it up when you see it.  Like our own good weather, this is a summer season wine only.  Pale and elegant with wild strawberry fruit and a crisp finish.

La Vieille Ferme 2016, Vallée du Rhône, France, Waitrose normally £7.99, down to £5.99 until 10 July

Made from Southern French grapes, Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah, this has the taste of fresh-picked redcurrants and just a hint of herbs.  It is made by the Perrin family who own Ch. de Beaucastel and who also have been making Brad and Angelina’s Ch. Miraval for the last few years.

Le Rosé de Balthazar 2017 Pays d’Oc, France, Waitrose £6.99

A mix of Syrah and Grenache grapes grown on chalky soils in the south of France, this has light raspberry and red cherry fruit with a streak of citrus to keep flavours fresh.

Fleur de Prairie Côtes de Provence Rosé 2017, France, Aldi £7.49

Another Aldi wine that you have to snap up when you see it. It comes in the traditional curvy bottle of Provence and that instantly makes you think of long summer days and sunshine. The flavours are good too. Light strawberry fruit with a twist of orange zest.

Viu Manent Malbec Rosé 2017, Chile, Bon Coeur (01325 776446) £8.50

A bigger style of rosé with redcurrants, red berry fruit and watermelon freshness.  Perfect with an evening barbecue.

Ch. Haut Jonset 2017, Bordeaux, France, Marks and Spencer £10

From a small family estate, this is made from 100% Merlot that is allowed just a few hours on the skins to extract a pale, delicate colour.  It is a dry, fresh-tasting rosé that can be enjoyed on its own, but will taste best alongside charcuterie or grilled fish.

 

Finest Sancerre Rosé 2016, Loire, Tesco £11

Made from Pinot Noir this has more weight than many rosés, without losing its freshness of style and finesse.  With notes of wild strawberry, redcurrant and a dusting of herbs, this goes well with grilled duck breast or lightly spiced stir-fried prawns.

Marlborough Rosé 2017, New Zealand, Marks and Spencer £11

Made lowish in alcohol at just 9.5% by careful viticulture and grape selection rather than any clever chemical tricks. It is a blend of Pinot Noir, Arneis and other grapes and is a delightfully fresh-tasting, red cherry and peach-edged wine. Perfect for long lunches.

Berne Grande Recolte Rosé 2017, Côtes de Provence, France, Morrisons £10

From the famous hotel, spa and estate of Ch. de Berne in Provence, this wine brings a touch of Provençal elegance to your table. It comes in a fabulous square cut bottle that could double up as an oversized perfume bottle. The wine has delicate white floral notes backed by wild strawberry and lime fruit and just needs sunshine and salad to partner it.

AIX 2017, Coteaux d’Aix en Provence, House of Townend, special offer £13.49

A bargain price for this wine, so snap it up now. It comes from the famous Maison Saint Aix, situated on a plateau 420 metres above sea level, where Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault grapes are grown.  The wine captures the scent of wild herbs with notes of wild strawberries, watermelon and flowers.

Ch. Miraval 2017, Côtes de Provence, France, Majestic £19.99, down to £14.99 on a mix six deal

Despite the divorce it seems that Brad and Angelina are holding on to Ch. Miraval. Winemaking is still in the hands of the Perrin family who have been looking after it from the start and quality remains consistently good.  Demand is high and the best deals come and go quickly, so buy it when you find the best price.  This wine doesn’t just have good flavours, it comes with a story your guests will love.

 

Chivite La Fincas Rosado 2017, Vino de la Tierra 3 Riberas, Spain, Hic! (01977 550047) £15.75

In its skittle-shaped bottle this looks sophisticated, and the wine inside doesn’t disappoint.  Voted the best rosé wine in Spain, it has wild strawberry and pomegranate notes with a rounded, food-friendly finish.

About The Author

Christine Austin

Christine is a wine writer, broadcaster and a wine judge for several international wine competitions. She has a technical background and spent five years as a buyer for a major supermarket before moving to wine writing.She writes for The Yorkshire Post Magazine and organises the York Festival of Food and Drink. She has won both the Lanson and the Roederer prizes for wine writing.

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