The rise and rise of Rosé

I salute the judges at this year’s Air New Zealand Wine Awards. They awarded three gold medals to the Rosé class. That’s the highest number of gold medals they’ve awarded to Rosé in a decade.

Wine judges and wine consumers often appear to have an unfair bias against a wine style that can, at best, be totally seductive. Here are three good reasons why you should open a bottle of Rosé this evening (or better still, during lunch):

  • It’s cheap. Rosé is the cheapest category of wine on my database of nearly 22,000 wines with an average “recommended retail” price of $20.57. In fact the real average is likely to be considerably less than that once discounts have been deducted. For the record the next lowest category is Sauvignon Blanc ($22.38), then Riesling ($23.35) and Pinot Gris ($23.95). Our most expensive wine is Syrah ($37.60) followed closely by Pinot Noir ($37.18) and blended reds ($35.17).
  • It’s food friendly. Rosé is a brilliant match with Thai curry and other moderately spicy dishes. It’s fantastic with turkey and an obvious choice with “pink” seafood dishes such as prawns or salmon. A bone-dry Rose can even match many red meat dishes and at the same time suit pork and chicken.
  • It’s summer. Rosé has enough strength of flavour to survive being served icy cold to beat the summer heat. It’s a great mid-day wine when the sun is at its highest. Delicate scents of strawberries and cherries make Rose the perfect summer sipper. This fresh, crisp and lively wine is great with brunch and perfect with lunch. It’s an ideal aperitif before the evening meal.

Many wineries make Rosé by simply removing some of the lightly tinted grape juice from the grape skins and fermenting it at cool temperatures to retain fruit flavour. The higher skin to juice ratio in the “donor” wine gives it greater colour and more flavour. The by-product nature of Rosé production may have reduced its premium image. However more and more winemakers are dedicating vineyards specifically to Rosé production which may have contributed to a general rise in quality and wine show awards.

Gold medal Rosé

Esk Valley Rosé, Hawke’s Bay 2014 – $19.99

A blend of Merlot and Malbec has produced a dry and reasonably full-bodied Rosé with delicious strawberry, raspberry and spice flavours. This consistently award winner suits reasonably full-flavoured dishes. – view on

Soho Westwood Rosé, Waiheke 2014 – $25.90

A blend of Merlot (92%), Malbec (7%) and Syrah (1%) from Soho’s Onetangi vineyard on Waiheke Island. From a great Merlot vintage this wine captures berry, herb and spice flavours. The creative people at Soho describe it as “mouth candy with mojo”. I can’t really argue with that. – view on

Terra Sancta Pinot Noir Rosé 2014 – $26.95

It was no surprise to learn that this wine had won a gold medal, I would have been surprised if it hadn’t. Pure, ethereal and totally charming Rose with crushed strawberry, cherry and subtle mineral flavours. Highly recommended.

First published in KiaOra Magazine – Feb 2015.

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