Rosé wine has been one of the big success stories of the past few years. Exports of Provençal rosé have grown 28 per cent a year since 2015, according to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. And it’s easy to see why. Rosé is fun. Rosé is glamorous. Rosé looks great on Instagram. It says holidays and swimming pools and lazing in sun-dappled hammocks. And if you fancy it with a few ice cubes, go ahead – no one is going to judge.
Rosé used to be a bit of an afterthought for winemakers – something designed to be bottled young and sold for quick cash. But as interest in the style has grown, more and more are now raising their game. Many consider the benchmark to be Domaine Tempier’s Bandol Rosé, a copper-pink rosé that marries classic Provençal crispness with a ravishing perfume. The 2018 is a romantic lungful of parched Mediterranean herbs, lavender and funky-sweet papaya (£22.75, abvintners.co.uk or as part of a mixed case, keelingandrew.co.uk). It’s dear for a rosé, but still a snip for fine wine – scarcity, rather than price, tends to be the main obstacle here.
Rather steeper is Domaines Ott’s new “prestige cuvée”, Domaines Ott Etoile, a £120 rosé showcasing the best of its three terroirs in Provence: “the salinity of Clos Mireille, the smooth elegance of Château de Selle and the depth of Château Romassan.”
Chanel recently joined the fray with the acquisition of Domaine de l’Ile, a white- and rosé-producing estate on the island of Porquerolles on the French Riviera (£175 for a case of 12, frw.co.uk). And Château Miraval – the Provence estate belonging to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie – is planning a high-end pink champagne in collaboration with cult grower Pierre Péters.
Provence may be the by-word for rosé – but the dry, pale-pink wines of this region offer only a small taste of how interesting rosé can be. For rosé with substance, try Italy. I love the deep-strawberry Rosato from Calabria’s ’A Vita winery (£24, passionevino.co.uk). Made from the tannic Gaglioppo grape, it combines the fruity tang of cranberry juice with a more savoury sun-baked earthiness. Great with a plate of spicy pasta all’arrabbiata.
Fans of orange wine should also try the rosé from Vigneti Tardis, a maverick outfit in Campania co-founded by Jack Lewens of Leroy restaurant in Shoreditch. Almost amber in colour, this Primitivo blend is a visceral fusion of citrus zest, gentian and scented orange blossom. The antithesis of anaemic rosé (£19.50, bbr.com).
Austria – which is currently super-hot in hip wine circles – is doing some really attention-grabbing pink wine too. Belle Naturelle Rosé 2017 (£24, newcomerwines.com) is a gorgeous blend of Pinot Noir, Zweigelt and Cabernet Sauvignon from the prestigious Jurtschitsch estate in Langenlois. It captures the fruit at its most pure – wine, as its creators say, “in its birthday suit”.
One of the last wines I enjoyed on an evening out was a glass of Rosé de Xinomavro 2017 from the all-Greek wine list at Ampéli in Fitzrovia. Made by Apostolos Thymiopoulos – a rising star in Greek wine – it was generous, deep and softly spicy. We drank it with a dish of smoky aubergine and walnuts (£15, theatreofwine.com).
Portuguese specialist Bar Douro – now doing deliveries – has also struck gold with Folias de Baco Uivo Renegado, 2018, a blend of more than 25 Portuguese varieties that walks the line between red and rosé. Packed with crunchy red and black fruit – damson, sloe, raspberry – it’s a wine you could drink year-round (£14.75, shop.bardouro.co.uk).
And don’t forget about England, where rosé is blossoming too. The 100 per cent Pinot Noir Cherry Garden Rosé 2019 (£25, gusbourne.com) from Gusbourne in Kent tastes like Provençal rosé that strayed over to the dark side. The best, you could say, of all worlds.