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Expert’s choice: Premium Rosé

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Complexity is possible in rosés, notably those from southeast France, but can a price-tag of 23$ or more ever be justified? Yes it can, says Elizabeth Gabay MW.

Is premium rose a contradiction in terms? Should rosé be fresh and simple, not complex, weighty or oak-aged? The modern Provençal style is regarded by many as the benchmark of good rosé, but it has not always been so. Over the past 30 years, Provençal rosé has evolved from dark pink and powerful to pale, dry and fresh, and designed for easy drinking.

Early attempts at more complex rosés were clunky, as producers tried to combine the simple, fresh style with greater weight and longevity, but recent years have shown great improvements. Until 2006 no one imagined that rosé would sell for more than $70, but Sacha Lichine’s investment and success at Château d’Esclans in Provence has inspired others to aim high. Riedel’s launch of a rosé glass earlier this year is another sign that it is being taken more seriously.


Château Pibarnon, Bandol, 2014

Château de Pibarnon, Bandol, Provence 2014

August 26, 2015: Great structure and weight, balanced by long fresh acidity. Cinsault with Mourvèdre from well-established vineyards in the hills. This is a serious food wine that would be good with roast meats -- POINTS 93


Château de Sours, Bordeaux 2014

Château de Sours, Bordeaux 2014

August 26, 2015: 100% Merlot. Despite the darker pink, this is not a rosé to ignore. Fresh red berry fruit with fresh, zippy acidity to make a crisp, refreshing summer wine. POINTS 90


Tenuta delle Terre Nere, Etna, Sicily 2013

Tenuta delle Terre Nere, Etna, Sicily 2013

August 26, 2015: Nerello Mascalese and a hint of Nerello Mantellato. Nutty aromas reflect its age and the palate has fresh acidity and mellow, nutty fruit. A unique aperitif. POINTS 85

The range of colours on display in this tasting was gorgeous, ranging from pale red to off-white, illustrating the challenge of choosing by colour. Paleness is traditionally regarded as an indication of quality, with orange tones suggesting oxidation and darker rosés a weak red wine. But colour has little relation to quality, and can be a clue to the variety: Grenache often has hints of salmon, Syrah is blue-pink and Cabernet pale red.

This tasting proved that rosés can be complex, but that price alone does not indicate quality. Once a sceptic, I am now excited by the quality and variety on offer, though I still struggle to justify a price of over £30 ($45).

These wines were chosen from a tasting in May of 36 premium rosés organised by Richard Bampfield MW and Jean-Christophe Mau of Château Brown.



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