Discover Different Rosé – Pink Perfection

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Vintage Cellars
January 8, 2019
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Paint your summer with the sublime shades of rosé, whatever your colour preference.

Nothing quite announces summer's arrival more than a balmy evening, a hearty barbecue and its sizzling

offerings, all accompanied by a glass of cool rosé with its cheery pastel pink hue. Or copper. Or cherry red. Or fuchsia. That’s the thing about this type of wine – it comes in an array of colours and styles.


Rosé can be bone-dry to slightly sweet, plus, depending on where it is produced, it can be made with any number of grape varieties, including those of the white inclination. It can be fun and easy-drinking or made with such serious intent that it’s complex and beguiling. While it comes down to personal preference, often the finest examples are the palest in colour and the driest on the palate.


Australian drinkers have adopted the French word, rosé; the Italians call it rosato; and the Spanish label it rosado. It’s certainly a universal style, whose popularity has skyrocketed in the last decade, both with imports and locally made examples. Why? It positively suits our Australian lifestyle and our food culture.

But there’s more to this blushed drop than meets the eye, so let’s start with its most famous regional home, where it all began – Provence, in the south-east of France.


Provence: The spiritual home of rosé

This Mediterranean region is all about sunshine, warmth and the sea. Sounds like home, doesn’t it? Provence is the world’s number one region for rosé in terms of production – a staggering 156 million bottles of appellation wines, as deemed by French wine law, are made annually and Provence produces about 6% of the world’s rosé demand.


It’s astonishing, given rosé was once scoffed at as simple and one-dimensional. Not anymore. Provence leads the way with 89% of its grape vines dedicated to rosé production, including mourvèdre, grenache and cinsault. As a historical aside, did you know the Romans established the area now known as Provence? While they did so much to cultivate and spread grapevines from Burgundy, Rhône Valley, Bordeaux and more, recent studies show that it was in fact the ancient Greeks who brought vines to the Provence region, before the Romans, some 2,600 years ago.


Rosé by another name in the Loire

While Provence is France’s undisputed rosé capital, the next most notable is the Loire, with several appellations making pink wines, the most popular being Rosé d’Anjou. It’s slightly sweeter with floral strawberry aromas and a soft palate. The varieties are cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon, but grolleau often features as it's indigenous to the Loire and is high in acidity.


Do production methods matter?

Absolutely. There are generally two ways to make rosé – maceration (soaking crushed grapes, seeds and stems in wine must to extract colour and aroma compounds as well as tannins) and saignée, a French word meaning “to bleed” (where some of the crushed red grape juice is bled into the rosé juice). The remaining juice with its skins is more concentrated and goes on to make a red wine. While it is a valid way to produce rosé, aficionados prefer rosés made from grapes solely destined for the style.


One of Australia’s most celebrated winemakers and rosé lovers, Julian Langworthy from Deep Woods Estate in Western Australia’s Margaret River, is emphatic about how to make pink drinks. “We don’t believe in rosé production as an afterthought, so we plan and manage our viticulture around sites and varieties that we think will be good for quality rosé,” he says.


Does varietal choice matter?

Yes, again. Julian’s preferred varieties from Western Australia are two flavoursome varieties, tempranillo and nebbiolo. The former is made into a fresh Provençal style: fermented in stainless steel resulting in an easy-drinking wine; while nebbiolo undergoes wild fermentation in old oak barrels so it ends up with loads of texture and neat phenolics.


Julian's dedication has paid off because in the last few years, Deep Woods has won numerous trophies for his rosé. When we look for varietal direction in Australian rosés, often the variety is on the label, such as pinot noir, which makes excellent rosé thanks to its aromatics and acidity. However, Australia's wine laws allow up to 15% of other grapes to be included without being identified on the label. It means a spicy grenache-dominant wine might include a splash of shiraz, touriga or carignan to bolster the palate or colour. And while a darker colour might indicate a fruitier, sweeter wine, it’s not a hard and fast rule. For example, a dark magenta rosé from McLaren Vale may be fruit-forward but also full-bodied and hearty enough to pair with kangaroo in an excellent food match.


But if the ever-burgeoning rows of rosé still appear baffling, try asking for advice from the helpful and knowledgeable staff at your local Vintage Cellars store. Or better still, buy a bottle, chill it and make up your own mind.


Did you know?

The colour of rosé does not necessarily represent the sweetness or dryness level of the wine. A pale rosé

could be either sweet or dry, and a dark magenta rosé could be