Navigating through a sea of rosés

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How to choose the best pink-hued wine for a summer occasion.

It is sailing regatta season and bottles of pale pink rosé in a cooler on the club terrace or deck are a common enough sight. The third colour choice is often available at a party or barbecue, too.

Time was that rosé did not have a popular following in Britain with only a couple of brands the norm on supermarket shelves. Last month I counted no fewer than 33 different rosés from all the main wine-making countries occupying a whole four-tier shelf run at my local Waitrose. Rosé, it seems, has become a summer wine of significant volume so how to select the one that suits you?

LOCAL WINES

When abroad, sailing or land-born, always try a local rosé to build up some benchmarks for your taste palate. Many of the local vineyards close to the Mediterranean Côtes d’Azur coastline make rosés to meet domestic holiday demand.

On one trip travelling by road to sail a St Tropez regatta, we stopped a few miles inland at the Campaux winery. Their rosé is a stunner. Once found, we noticed it on many local wine lists but none is exported, not even within France.

Colour is a good starting point. Generally the paler the colour the better and dryer the wine will be and the delicate pink lighter rosés are good on their own as an apéritif.

A good way to make your choice is to follow the grape varieties the wine is made from. Rosés use the same core range that well known reds or whites use. If you have a favourite red or white, a rosé from the same grapes may well suit you.

TASTING PANEL

Here are a few I ran past my tasting panel.

From France, Esprit de Buganay is a good example of the blending of local Côtes de Provence grapes, picked in the early morning before the day heats up. A blend of the traditional provençal grapes Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, plus in this case a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon for flavour reasons. Pale pink, fresh with cherry fruity aroma and a respectable 13 per cent abv at about £8.24 per 75cl bottle at Waitrose.

From Italy, the aptly named Italia brand range is a reliable, moderately priced brand quite widely available. They offer a straightforward Pinot Grigio Rosé, a gentle summer-time wine 11.5 per cent at £5.59 a bottle.

If you like Spanish Rioja, try Muga rosé. A robust 13.5 per cent, it uses the classic Rioja varietals, Tempranillo, Garnacha and Viura grapes, producing a full-bodied wine good for barbecues rather than as an apéritif. The price of £9.99 a bottle puts it in a higher price range but this is more of a sipper to savour rather than a quaffer.

TOUCH OF FIZZ

Prosecco fizz has already enjoyed its own surge in popularity. Enthusiasts should also try Prosecco Rosé Italian San Leo Rosata, 11 per cent and very reasonably priced at £7.79 per bottle.

For Spanish fizz, Cava long-since established its credentials in the UK as an acceptable (even preferred) reasonably priced sparkling alternative. Codorniu make a rosé version from the same traditional cava grape varieties, principally Macabeu and Parellada. Very reasonably price at £7.86 for the 75cl bottle, 11.5 per cent and made according to the traditional method with the second fermentation producing the bubbles in the bottle. Dropping a fresh cherry in each glass adds to the summer party atmosphere.

 

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