November through Rosé coloured glasses

Rosé. What images does that word conjure up for you? For many it’s a bad seventies dinner suit, a distinctive round Portuguese shaped bottle and a lucky lady ready to be romanced… Oh yes, Rosé still seems to be tainted with memories of wines such as ‘Mateus’ and, if mentioned on the street today, Rosé will often be preceded by the word ‘sweet’. But is the famously pink wine as one dimensional as it seems? Never one to follow general opinion blindly, I decided to hold a special tasting to discover the truth about Rosé.

I gathered a serious panel of others dedicated to my cause (or who fancied a tasting), sourced fifteen Rosés from various regions and took to the tasting bench. The line up featured an array of different styles, from the slightly fruiter to the drier, crisper style. We went in search of Rosés that, regardless of style, showed balance, freshness and appeal. The ideal was a fruity sweetness that left the palate wanting more. Luckily for us, the tasting was a real treat and it was refreshing to see how far Rosé has come – anyone expecting lolly water was certainly surprised!

You really don’t have to go back as far as the seventies to see escalating sales of sweeter, slightly sparkling Rosé in Europe and America and this is certainly still the case in certain markets. But as our tasting identified, the current trend is toward the traditional, drier Rosé styles, especially from Provence. Provence Rosés are typically pale pink in appearance, with a crisp dry palate. The most common Provence Rosé grape varieties are Grenache, Cinsault, Mouvedre and Carignan.

There are a few different ‘approaches’ or techniques used to make Rosé wines and they each produce wines with different characteristics. For example, if you see the word ‘Saignee’ on your Rosé label, this indicates a wine making technique involving bleeding off the grape juice after limited contact with the skins. More often than not this produces more intense tasting wines. Recommended producers using the Saignee technique are Farr Rising from Geelong and Amisfield from Central Otago. Other Rosé producers to look out for include La Boheme, Spinifex and Pizzini.

Rose should be a style of popular choice in Australia: the wine’s chilled, beautifully refreshing qualities are perfectly suited to our warm climate and casual lifestyle. As wine retailers however, we have noticed a growing tendency for Rosé drinking throughout the year, and with good reason. Rosé is known for its versatility: when paired with food a good Rosé will complement most flavours, from sweet to hot and spicy, yet it’s one of the few wines I like to enjoy without food.

I must admit, I didn’t come up with the idea to reassess Rosé all on my own – I was inspired by a wine industry event called ‘Rosé Revolution’. Regardless, the foray into reincarnated Rosé has me wanting to inspire you to taste and reassess some of this wonderful wine, so we are holding an event at La Vigna in November to give you that opportunity.

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