Revived by Rosé

Thursday, June 1, 2017 1
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I hope you’ll forgive this thin blooded South African for opening with small talk about the weather, but, oh my umbrella!, we’ve actually had a few rays of unobstructed sunshine in England this week! It looks as if we’ve finally joined seemingly every other locale in the Northern Hemisphere and broken through into summer. Meteorologically, May is a torturous month but wine-wise there is much to look forward to.
The latest release of Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé 2016 was on my doorstep when I arrived home one evening last week. I tip toed into the house, knowing there was a measly 15 minutes before I needed to rescue our nanny from the children, and heaved the case of the wine down to our cool, unfinished basement. I poured myself a taster. The crystal clear colour of the wine is a light coral, flashing hints of gold when the light catches the liquid as I swirl it around the barrel of a glass. I feel relaxed, long before any alcohol enters my system. I take a moment to stick my nose deep into the glass and let the smell of fresh violets, peonies and succulent red berries wash over me. After a few minutes the glass has misted over with my warm breath and I’m glad nobody is watching. I take a big sip and swish the liquid around, tasting flavours that evolve from tart raspberries to the ripest peak season strawberries. This is a wine that finds its way into every crease of your mouth, spreading itself across your palate like the comfort of the softest scarf. The wine tastes crisp and refreshing, has a lightness of texture, but is dense with flavour. There is a lot of pink plonk out there which begins to be marketed around now, but few wines can replicate the relaxation I feel when basking in the warmth of late afternoon sunshine.
Rosé wines from the Bandol region in the South of France fetch higher prices than their neighbours in the Côtes de Provence. Bandol’s intensity and unique ability to develop with age, highly unusual for Rosé wine, make them worth the extra cash. As a delicious drink-now alternative, I love the Circumstance Cape Coral Mourvèdre Rose 2015, from Waterkloof winery in my native South Africa.
If you want to try something totally different, the Umathum 2015 Rosa from Burgenland in Austria is a bomb of cherry flavour. Its colour is almost luminous fuschia, completely different to Circumstance and Tempier’s pale salmon hue. The flavours are stronger, more robust and the greater presence of tannins in the final wine almost makes you feel as if you’re drinking a super-light red, if you close your eyes. This is a really fun wine.
Here are a few basic facts on the three wines I’ve described with links on where to find them in the UK.
Actually, just stop reading and go out and buy a case or two. It’s just been released onto the UK market and will sell out soon. Since it’s one of the only Rosé’s capable of ageing, buying more than you can drink right now is not a problem. This is a wine I like to keep around all year long. It is delicious, regardless of the season, and a brilliant food wine.
This wine shows great complexity and has many different sides to its personality. In wine speak, describing a wine as complex means it has many different flavours, not just one or two. It possesses those alluring ripe summer berry flavours – strawberries and raspberries, yet is simultaneously crisp and refreshing. Aromas of violets and raspberries give way to pomegranates, ripe red strawberries and white peaches as you taste the wine. The flavours linger for a long time in your mouth. An outstanding wine. 
Quick wine facts:
Price: Around £25 per bottle
Where it’s from: Bandol in the South of France
The Grapes: 50% Mourvèdre, 28% Grenache, 20% Cinsault, 2% Carignan
Alcohol level: 14%
Pairs well with: Creamy chicken, fish, veal, any vegetables, but avoid it with spicy foods. Goes particularly well with this.
A great value alternative to Bandol Rose. It is crisp and lively but quite a bit softer than the Tempier. It’s lighter in alcohol too but still tastes rich. A super summer wine.
Quick wine facts:
Price: £10-£12 per bottle
Where it’s from: Stellenbosch in South Africa
The Grapes: 100% Mourvèdre
Alcohol level: 13%
Pairs well with: Great as an aperitif with lightly salted almonds or smoked salmon. Also tastes brilliant with light fish and chicken dishes.
A really fun alternative to pale pink. Austrian wines have made a recent comeback onto the UK market. They have some awesome native grape varieties such as Gruner Veltliner and Zweigelt that yield wines which are elegant and full on flavour. Gruner appears on many restaurant, bar and pub wine lists in London now and hopefully Zweigelt will be distributed more widely to the consumer within the next few years.
Price: £10-£12 per bottle
Where it’s from: Burgenland in Austria
The Grapes: Zweigelt
Alcohol level: 13%
Pairs well with: This is fabulous with barbecued meat, when you have a fat, juicy steak on the BBQ and you want to imbibe something lighter than red but don’t want to go the white route.

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