Verdict: a blind tasting of top rosé wines
Should my finger be on the pulse of fashion I can assure you it is entirely accidental. Take living in Hackney. I just happened to have been here for 20 odd years! As for wine, the rosé phenomenon rather passed me by. More often than not I’ll order a rosé by process of elimination, where neither whites nor reds pass muster. So I was intrigued to attend a blind tasting of top rosé wines from around the world last week. Hosted by Jean-Christophe Mau of Chateau Brown, Bordeaux I might add it was a very clever means of highlighting the release of his second Rosé cuvée and soliciting feedback from the trade about rosé styles!
Below you’ll find a report of the tasting penned by Mau’s consultant Richard Bampfield MW, followed by a list of the wines – none from Portugal, though I have suggested that, next time, Niepoort’s and Sogrape’s Casa Ferreirinha Vinha Grande Roses from the Douro and Colinas de São Lourenço Principal Rosé Tête de Cuvée 2010 from Bairrada warrant consideration.
As for my favourites, plainly Provence’s drier, savoury textural styles float my boat and I am not averse to oak provided that there is precision and freshness. Here they are:
Domaines Ott Clos Mireille 2013 Provence, France
Reassuring to spot this classic name blind. Loved this pale Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah’s savoury, salty, creamy and subtle palate. Insinuating, persistent acidity makes for surprising length and heightened intensity. 19/20
Chene Bleu 2013 Ventoux, France
The overall top-scoring wine – another Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault blend – came in joint second for me but, given its price point, I’d happily promote it to the top of the pile. Spicy and (white) peppery with a saline edge, good acidity and exotic appeal to boot (hints of orange peel/bergamot tea). Yum. £15.00, Justerini & Brooks. 18/20
Chateau de Leoube 2013, Provence, France
Mourvedre joins the Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah party in this pale, pretty in pink number. Subtle fresh strawberry fruit dances delicately over a perfumed palate. Very likeable indeed. £16.00, Bibendum, Goedhuis. 18/20
Chateau Brown 2013 Pessac-Leognan, France
I can understand why the oak would not appeal to some but this deep pink perfumed rosé, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, had a brisk and bright concentration of blackcurrant fruit beneath. An attractive lick of woodspice brought lift to its precise, firm finish. Trés Bordeaux. £25.00, Hedonism. 18/20
Domaine Tempier 2012 Provence, France
Another famous Provence wine scoring well for me. Loved its dryiness, minerality and texture. One of the more individual rosés, it is a blend Cinsault, Grenache, Carignan, Mourvedre. £23.95 Lea & Sandeman 17/20
Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel 2013 Provence, France
Though I also gave this Grenache, Rolle, Cinsault, Syrah, Tibouren blend 17 points I found it a touch confected and smooth (maybe my sixth sense picked up on the cheesy name?!?!!?) No denying its length and fruit though. £16.95 The Wine Library, Jeroboams 17/20
Chateau d’Esclans Dom Sacha Lichine 2013 Provence, France
Quite different in style from Whispering Angel, this well structured Grenache, Rolle blend shows smoky, vanillin oak nuances on nose and palate with creamy, leesy nougat textural notes to its well balanced finish. £22.95 Jeroboams 16.5/20
I scored eight wines 16 points including Albury Silent Pools 2013 – a crisp Pinot Noir Rose from Surrey, Chateau de Leoube Secret de Leoube 2013 Provence, Chateau de Sours “La Source” 2012 from Bordeaux, Chivite Finca de Villatuerta Rosado 2013 Navarra, Domaine de Terrebrune 2012 Bandol, Miraval 2013 Provence, Sancerre Rose Chavignol, Dom Laporte 2013 and two South Australian roses – Skillogalee 2012, Clare Valley and perhaps the country’s best known rose, Turkey Flat 2013 Barossa.
The trade verdict
The wines were tasted blind and, before tasters were given the crib, they were asked to score each wine out of 20. 37 tasters submitted their scores.
The top scoring wine was Chêne Bleu, closely followed by L’Hydropathe from Domaine Sainte Lucie and Miraval. The top 11 wines were all from the Provence region and special mention should go to Domaines Sacha Lichine, all four of whose wines were in the top 11. The top 5 wines were all from the 2013 vintage.
Not surprisingly, different tasters rewarded different styles. Tasters were divided over the two Italian wines (Biondi-Santi and Sella Majoli), the Tavel (Chateau d’Aqueria), the Spanish (Chivite and Artadi) and the Bordeaux (Chateaux Brown and de Sours). Some of these were oaked and it was clear that not all were attracted by that aspect. Others had deeper colours and were more mature, which again were characteristics which did not please all. The English Rosé, from Albury, scored admirably well and the only wines that failed to win many admirers were those from Australia and New Zealand.
The results suggest the following:
That tasters are more drawn to Rosés that echo the characteristics of white wines rather than reds.
Pale colour is seen as a positive attribute. Deeper colours less so.
Freshness is key. The 2013 Provence wines fared better than those from 2012.
Tasters are looking for texture rather than weight.
The wines that fared best would probably be considered suitable to be consumed as both aperitifs and with food.
Albury Silent Pools Rose 2013 Surrey, England – Pinot Noir – £14.00, Albury Vineyard
Artadi Artazuri Garnacha Rose 2013 Navarra – Garnacha – £11.30, BBR, Baileys Wine Merchants
Biondi-Santi Rosato di Toscana “Greppo” 2010 Tuscany, Italy – Sangiovese
Chateau Brown 2013 Pessac-Leognan, France – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot £25.00, Hedonism
Chateau d’Aqueria 2012 Tavel, France – Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Clairette, £16.50, Eton Vintners, The Vineyard
Chateau de Leoube 2013, Provence, France – Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Syrah, £16.00, Bibendum, Goedhuis
Chateau de Leoube Secret de Leoube 2013 Provence, France Grenache, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon 21.00 Bibendum, Goedhuis
Chateau de Sours “La Source” 2012 Bordeaux, France Merlot, Cabernet Franc £14.50, Private Cellar
Chateau d’Esclans Dom Sacha Lichine 2013 Provence, France – Grenache, Rolle, £22.95 Jeroboams
Chateau Sainte Marguerite Cuvee M 2012 Provence, France – Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre £20.00, Enotria
Chene Bleu 2013 Ventoux – Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault £15.00, Justerini & Brooks
Chivite Colleccion 125 Rosado 2011 Navarra Tempranillo, Garnacha £13.99, Mike Hothersall Wines
Chivite Finca de Villatuerta Rosado 2013 Navarra Garnacha £28.99, Mike Hothersall Wines
Dom Ste Lucie Made in Provence Classic 2013 Provence, France – Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah £11.95, Lea & Sandeman
Dom Ste Lucie Made in Provence Premium 2013 Provence, France – Vermentino, Grenache, Syrah £14.95, Lea & Sandeman
Domaine de Terrebrune 2012 Bandol, France – Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsault , £22.50, Hailsham Cellars, AG Wines
Domaine des Diables Rose Bonbon 2013 Provence, France – Cinsault, Syrah, £13.95, Lea & Sandeman
Domaine Sainte Lucie L’Hydropathe 2013 Provence, France – Syrah, Grenache, £15.95, Lea & Sandeman
Domaine Tempier 2012 Provence, France – Cinsault, Grenache, Carignan, Mourvedre, £23.95 Lea & Sandeman
Domaines Ott Clos Mireille 2013 Provence, France – Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah , £30.00, Hedonism, Davy’s
Les Clans Domaines Sacha Lichine 2012 Provence, France – Grenache, Rolle, £49.00, Hedonism
Garrus Domaines Sacha Lichine 2012 Provence, France – Grenache, Rolle, £60.00, Bordeaux Index
M de Minuty 2013 Provence, France – Grenache, Syrah, £14.99, Majestic
Miraval 2013 Provence, France – Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, Rolle, £20.00, Berry, Bros & Rudd
Rimauresq 2012 Provence, France Grenache, Cinsault, Tibouren, £13.00, New Street Wines
Sancerre Rose Chavignol, Dom Laporte 2013 Loire, France – Pinot Noir, £16.50, Lea & Sandeman
Sancerre Rose Le Rabault Joseph Mellot 2013 Loire, France – Pinot Noir, £16.99, Hatch Mansfield
Sella Majoli Rosato 2012 Piemonte, Italy – Nebbiolo – £16.75, Antico, Locanda Locatelli
Skillogalee Cabernet Malbec Rose 2012, Clare Valley, Australia – Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec £14.00, Enotria
Takatu Rose 2013 Matakana, New Zealand – Cabernet Franc, Merlot, £17.50, newzealandhouseofwine.com
Turkey Flat 2013 Barossa, Australia – Grenache, Shiraz, Cabernet, Dolcetto, £14.00 Costco
Whispering Angel 2013 Provence, France – Grenache, Rolle, Cinsault, Syrah, Tibouren £16.95 The Wine Library, Jeroboams