A Big Fat Guide to Rosé, Part 1

I think the most surprising fan of rosé has to be Jeremy Clarkson. He just loves the stuff. One of the most (fairly) recent references was in his column for The Times about childhood obesity:

“If you sit there on the sofa every night, washing chocolate and curry down with gallons of rosé, which is what I do, you are subtly letting your children know that it’s OK to look like the bastard love child of an elephant and a hot-air balloon.

You know you are fat. You know you look ridiculous and you know your back hurts when you have to walk to the shops. You also know you’re going to get diabetes, which will cause your penis to break. And yet, despite all this, you are still going to haul your lardy arse over to the fridge for another slab of Cadbury Fruit & Nut. There is only one reason you would do this: you’re thick.

Don’t try to argue you became heavy on purpose because fat people are harder to kidnap. And don’t say you’re genetically prone to fatness. You’re not. You don’t see fat people in famine zones. I was stick-thin until my late twenties. And then one day someone said: “Have you tried this pink wine?” And now I’m a wafer-thin mint away from bursting.”

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/childhood-obesity-why-its-better-to-target-the-porky-parents-nv5b2t7kh

I think after this isolation period, many of us will be a ‘wafer-thin mint away from bursting’, but seeing as everything fun is cancelled, it doesn’t really matter. While we’re stuck in our gardens with this outrageously good weather, it is crucial to keep up a good supply of wine. I find that optimism, sun and wine are all inexplicably linked. And, try as we might to drink rosé all year round, there is something about the heat of the sun that disturbs something deep within us. You can try to fight it, but eventually nature will get its way and you’ll come-to, drinking a wine that nearly matches your sunburn.

So why a guide to buying rosé? It’s fairly straightforward, you go to the supermarket, buy the bottle you find the prettiest and go on your way. Except it really isn’t that straightforward anymore is it, because if you go to the supermarket you have to queue for hours, and as essential as it may be, is it really worth the hassle? Then the decontamination, the guilt and you’ll be so stressed from your trip you’ll try drinking it while wondering if that tickle in your throat is a hangover (again), hayfever or an ultra rapid response to Covid-19. Therefore I suggest you buy your rosé online and keep some smaller businesses in business in these torrid times. Although, keep checking announcements for independents around you opening up again. I know in Stamford our local Adnams is back open! The following rosé wines are compiled over various mischievous summers, as you no-doubt read, this is Part 1 and what you’ll notice about these rosé wines are that they’re all fairly expensive. I will keep doing these guides and talk about nearly ALL rosés. But this is where we begin.

CHÂTEAU LÉOUBE

I have written about Château Léoube before in depth, here, if you are interested in reading more about the brand and vineyard.

This is also an extract from the lovely Château Léoube Sales Manager, Lauren Holman:

 “For us sustainability is instinctive – to produce the best that the land can give, with gratitude and respect.”

Romain Ott, Head Winemaker & Production Director

 ————-

We are true custodians of the land and that we care deeply about farming sustainably, with the upmost respect for nature. We believe that good grapes make good wine so first you must tend to your land, all great wine is made in the vineyard not in the winery! ‘We are not wine doctors’ Romain once said to me and its so true, each year our vines do the talking and we care for them individually in the best way we can, each vintage and each cuveé will always tell a story

My favourite of their rosé is the mid-range offering:

Château Léoube Rosé 2018, Organic, Côte de Provence, 13%, £17.49 from Daylesford Organic

Classic pale pink rosé, washes down beautifully. Crisp and fresh but with notes of strawberries. A touch of minerality which makes you feel like you need more, for hydration purposes. Grapes: Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Mourvèdre.

Buy it here: Daylesford Organic

Or here: Great Western Wines

Or in Magnum form here: Pull the Cork

CHÂTEAU D’ESCLANS

Another brand I’ve written about before, but not in a huge amount of depth is Château d’esclans. Whispering Angel is like the popular kid at school. Most people love it, but some people aren’t into it predominantly because it’s so popular, it’s a slave to its reputation. Thankfully, the cynical club is only small and this rosé remains as popular as ever. As John Hoskins MW once said to me (albeit sarcastically), ‘If you’re sat on your yacht in St Tropez sipping pale pink rosé, you feel like you’ve made it in life.” None of us are sat on yachts at the moment, we’re probably sat on a questionable garden furniture, but don’t let that stop you indulging in this opulent brand.

Whispering Angel 2018, Côte de Provence, 13%, around £18.95 from most retailers

The mid range that often sells out faster than the rest offers a real mouthful. And, if you sit outside drinking it you will notice as it warms in the sun that it releases quite an extraordinary bouquet of strawberry notes. Endlessly refreshing, a very dangerous rosé. Grapes: Grenache, Cinsault, some say Vermentino

Buy it here: Slurp Wine

Or here: Majestic Wine

Or here, 2019 vintage: 8 Wines – they also do a fabulous mixed box which includes Rock Angel and The Palm, both equally fantastic wines and it’s great value. Box of 6.

DOMAINE TEMPIER

Maybe at this point you are noticing that this rosé list is slightly biased towards my personal favourites. However, I assure you that there will be a few sweet & fruity numbers in here too. I struggle to put into words how much I love Domaine Tempier rosé. It’s a serious bottle of wine, that often runs out before you can even get hold of it. I am forever grateful to my friend Lionel for helping me source it. And speaking of Lionel, we recently argued about wine and the ability for a wine to age. Domaine Tempier’s rosé is perhaps one of the only rosés you can buy that will age extremely well. Someone actually messaged me recently on Instagram to tell me they’d had a 20 year old bottle of the stuff that had developed expressive candied citrus notes. It depends, on your patience…

Lionel raised the question ‘Does a great wine need to be unapproachable in youth?’ To which I bit, savagely, and said this was the entire problem with the wine world and it makes it scary and shuts people out. Wine should be drinkable whenever rah rah rah. Fortunately, Lionel persevered and returned with a wonderful theory, “Ageability = proxy for greatness as a cellar of any size means one won’t drink the same wine frequently. i.e. a wine therefore *has* to be ageable.” What do you think?

Domaine Tempier Rosé 2018, Bandol, France, 13%, often around the £27.95 mark

Depth and minerality, achieved using grapes picked from vines that are at least 20 years old. A sort of mustiness to it, like the pith from a grapefruit. Then blossom, strawberries still on the plant, fresh peach, so perfect, it even has length. Grapes:  Mourvèdre, Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan

Buy it here: Hic

Or here: Noble Grape

MIRABEAU

This is another award winning rosé, instantly recognisable by the label or lack of label in some cases. I have heard many a chap tell me quite earnestly that they could never understand the rosé hype until they tried Mirabeau, and now they can’t get enough of it. I’m not sure how they’ve won the gents over, perhaps the addition of pure on the label? Maybe it’s the slight spice there is to this wine, who knows. Mirabeau has to be on the list though, it is a wonderful wine and it’s actually created by an English couple who quit their jobs and moved to Provence in 2009. To have created such an outstanding reputation in such a short space of time, is quite the achievement.

Mirabeau Pure Rosé 2019, Côte de Provence, 13%, usually around £16.99

A great wine to begin drinking at lunchtime, it screams Provence and is so refreshing that you could probably get up and play a game of tennis afterwards. A dash of spice from the addition of Syrah might explain why my friend decided they liked this rosé above many others. Grapes: 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah

Buy it here: Vinvm

Or here: Majestic

MIRAVAL

I love Miraval, I do, but the bottle is so irritatingly voluptuous that it doesn’t fit in many wine racks. The prestige of this pink wine is the history behind the bottle (as well as the taste). Miraval is one of the oldest wine estates in the South of France, that dates back to Roman times. The vineyard is not stuck in the past though by any means and they are now certified organic and aside from the pretty but silly bottle, practising sustainable wine-making.

Buy it here: Majestic

I’m sure there are lots of other stockists too!

DOMAINE OTT

The elegant Domaine Ott Château Rosmassan Rosé is sprung from Bandol terroir. I still haven’t recovered from my interview with Elizabeth Gabay MW and this enormous statement, “Bandol rosé is a bit of a schizophrenic style at the moment. 70% of Bandol is now rosé, four estates last year only produced rosé, no red.”  Regardless, Domaine Ott t always remind me of pink grapefruit and diets that I only stuck to for a day. There are a handful of other rosé’s that they produce too, get stuck in!

Buy it here: Lea & Sandeman

DOMAINE DE LA MORDORÉE

Oh what do we have here? Something that isn’t pale pink, that’s what. And while there aren’t many, there are certainly lots more than you might first expect. I ask that this summer, the one that’s going to be ever so odd, you don’t discriminate when it comes to the colour of rosé. This wine is from the Southern Rhone valley and it is finally a rosé that represents the terroir it is from rather than just ticking all of those commercial boxes. Seeing as it comes from outstanding terroir it also means that you get a lot from this rosé. In fact, it is a wine that pairs well with food. The Domaine is run by two strong women, Madeleine and Ambre Delorme, who took on the estate after the extremely sad passing of Madeleine’s husband Christophe.

There are a few rosé’s in their collection but I’d opt for the 2019 Rosé Cuvée de la Reine des Bois Domaine de la Mordorée – a rosé so astoundingly brilliant for food you’ll wish you had discovered it sooner.

Buy it here: Lea & Sandeman

MINUTY

Thank you to my Auntie Lucy for introducing me to Minuty. It’s one of those poolside rosé’s that has definitely earned itself a bit of a reputation. It’s very much an easy drinking wine though, it deserves every bit of credit it gets. We can’t forget that wine was meant to be enjoyed, not criticised by people on Twitter until it’s no longer enjoyable. Minuty is a rosé I would be very happy to have vast quantities of in my fridge.

Buy it here: Roberson Wine

PODERE CASINA

Sempre is a wine from Jackson and Seddon. A company belonging to my friend Rob who actually helped me run my first wine tasting. Before I tried Sempre, I admit that I was one of those ‘Ooo it’s going to be sweet because it isn’t pale’ types. In fact Sempre isn’t just unpale but it’s practically neon red. The colour is gorgeous, it glows, and the elephant on the front of the label makes you wonder if this bright liquid might just help you hallucinate. Sadly, it doesn’t, but it is delicious. An organic Italian wine that is 50% Syrah and 50% Sangiovese, you get the light strawberry notes you’d expect but the sexiest kick from the Syrah’s pepperiness too.

Buy it here: Jackson & Seddon

HATTINGLEY VALLEY

I couldn’t finish without adding a few English wines to the mix. The STILL rosé wine from Hattingley Valley is beautiful. It is made from Pinot Noir Précoce, sourced from prime Kent and Berkshire vineyards. It’s like a mouthful of freshly washed strawberries, with a hint of cream, so wonderfully English in every way and a perfect wine to drink and reminisce about Wimbledon filled summers.

Buy it here: Hattingley Valley (their website has Apple Pay hurrah!)

Right, that’s it for now! I know I’ve only just touched the surface, but it’s only June we have plenty of time!

If you do have any rosé recommendations you’d like to get on my radar, drop me an email to: Georgie.fenn@hotmail.co.uk or message me on Instagram.

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