First published in The Irish Times, Saturday 15th June, 2019
Few things are more evocative of summer than a glass of rosé. Some of us may drink it throughout the year, but consumption soars as soon as the sun comes out and temperatures start to rise. The mere mention of the name brings forth images of azure seas, fields of lavender, olives trees and vineyards, and chilled glasses of rosé wine sipped by the side of a swimming pool.
Provence rosé exploded onto the scene a decade or so ago, and has been growing every year since. Sales of Whispering Angel (the original pale Provence rosé), (€30-€35) and Brangelina’s Château Miraval (€30) continue unabated, alongside Clos Mireille, from Domaine Ott (€40).
According to Fortune magazine, rosé has now overtaken red and white wines as the largest category of French wine sold in the United States. Château d’Esclans, the house responsible for Whispering Angel, shipped almost five million bottles to the US last year.
The Provence style is pale in colour (we incorrectly associate colour with sweetness, apparently), delicate and dry, almost like a white wine. It should be served in a distinctive, slightly bling bottle, preferably a magnum or double magnum. It is Sacha Lichine of Whispering Angel who is credited with inventing the category that has taken the world by storm.
My own favourite rosé from Provence is very different, the Domaine Tempier (about €40), a wonderful, more deeply coloured, complex, full-bodied rosé that demands food.
Just about every multiple has a few Provence rosés on offer, ranging in price from €10 to €20. At Marks & Spencer, I like both the Coteaux Varois en Provence 2018 (€13.30) and the new Sainte Victoire Côte de Provence (€17.70). M&S also has the very gluggable House Rosé for €7.30.
But Provence is not the only place capable of making pink wine. Over the past few years, just about every region has tried its hand. Spain has a long rosé tradition – if you ever get the opportunity to try the unique López de Heredia Rioja Rosado, don’t pass it up. O’Briens’ director of Wine, Lynne Coyle MW, has produced Rós, her own (very tasty) Spanish rosé, from Navarra, this year, available from O’Briens for €16.95, or €12.71 each when you buy two bottles. O’Briens has just started its hugely popular annual rosé promotion, with 14 wines from four countries. All are available in some form of multibuy discount.
Rosé is much more than an aperitif wine; it also works well with a wide range of foods, including fish, white meats, barbecued or cold, all sorts of meze, salads and lightly spicy foods. Richer rosés are great with Provencal food; think salade Niçoise, rich fish soups, pissaladière, aioli and other summery dishes.
Réserve du Boulas Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2018
Fresh, light, clean raspberry fruits, with a lovely bright mineral edge. A very elegant and enjoyable rosé at a great price. Try it with salade Niçoise and other salads.
From Marks & Spencer, marksandspencer.ie
La Maldición Clarete 2018, DO Madrid
Is it a rosé or a very very pale red? Either way, it is a delicious distinctively different wine with tangerine peel, sour cherries and a lovely tangy quality. With cold meats or light pasta dishes.
From First Draft Coffee & Wine, Dublin 8, Firstdraftcoffeandwine.com; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth, elywinebar.ie; Lilliput Stores, Dublin 7, lilliputstores.com; Ely 64, Glasthule, Ely64.com; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4, baggotstreetwines.com; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3 clontarfwines.ie; Lilac Wines, Dublin 3, lilacwines.ie
L’Ostal Rosé 2018, Famille JM Cazes, Rosé Pays d’Oc
12.5%, €15.45 (second bottle half-price)
This is a very attractive elegant light rosé with plenty of redcurrant and raspberry fruit, finishing dry. A nice aperitif or with salmon dishes.
From O’Briens, obrienswine.ie
Domaine Bastide Neuve 2018, Rosé d’Oc
12.5%, €21 per magnum
Light lively strawberry and late summer fruits, finishing dry. Available in standard bottles too, but magnums would be perfect for that summer party, with or without nibbles.
From Dunnes Stores, dunnesstores.com