They were majoring on magnums at a tasting of rosés at a recent tasting, writes Christine Austin.
There was a positive feast of rosé wines at Majestic’s recent tasting and what was particularly nice is that they have majored on magnums this summer. There is nothing better than pouring a big bottle of wine for your assembled guests, as long as you have a big enough ice bucket to keep it cool.
Top favourite was M de Minuty Rosé 2013 from the Côtes de Provence, which comes in bottle (£11.24 on multibuy) and magnum (£25) sizes. It may work out slightly cheaper to buy the bottles but if you want your summer party to go with a swing then buy the gorgeous, curvy magnum bottles. The wine is typical of quality Provence rosés, made from Grenache, Cinsault and the local Tibouren grapes. Pale as new ballet shoes with delicate wild strawberry fruit and a clean, fresh finish this has enough body to stand up to the whole jumble of glorious flavours that come with Provençal foods such as grilled fish, mussels, olives, salads and anchovies.
You might also be able to find a magnum of Ch. de Berne Rosé 2013, Côtes de Provence (£27.50) which I loved for its silky, smooth style but the bottle design looks more like a perfume bottle so was slightly off-putting, and it was difficult to pour.
The most famous producers of rosé wine in this area of France are Brad and Angelina at Ch. Miraval. They started off by renting and then buying this Provençal estate in Correns where the whole village is completely organic. I am not sure how much time they spend pruning the vines, but the wine is lovely developing depth and silky, subtle wild hedgerow flavours since I first tasted it when it was new in bottle. Magnums are available at £38, but are difficult to track down, however 75cl bottles are in most Majestic stores and online at £17.99. In regular bottle sizes, head for Sainte Victoire 2013 from Famille Negrel (£10.99, Majestic).
Made from a blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah this has gathered deeper raspberry fruit and it works well even with food straight off the barbecue although it is really perfect alongside a seafood platter with a herb-baked salmon in the centre.
Waitrose has also majored on Provence for a selection of their rosé wines. Waitrose own-label Provence Rosé 2013 (£9.29) has a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon in it that adds colour, depth and more fruit to the wine. It is still silky in texture and restrained in style and goes well with summer lunches.
I also liked Mirabeau Rosé 2013 (£8.99) with a chunky 40 per cent Syrah in the blend which adds a light touch of spice, still leaving the finish clean, bright and fresh.
But there are plenty of other places making quality rosé wine.
At the bargain end of the price scale Waitrose Ripe and Juicy Spanish Rosé 2013 (£4.99) comes from Campo de Borja and it is packed with creamy strawberry fruit, yet there is enough weight and crisp acidity to accompany a plateful of jamón.
Also well worth a try is Johann Wolf Pinot Noir Rosé 2013, Pfalz, Germany (£9.99, Waitrose) which comes from top winemaker Ernst Loosen. It is very pale in colour with gentle redcurrant fruit and just an edge of sweetness balancing the zesty finish. Try this with lightly spiced prawns or a summer vegetable stir-fry.
Marks and Spencer unveiled a collection of new rosés including Tercius Rosé 2013 from the Tejo region of Portugal. Made from Touriga Nacional, Castelão and Syrah this has a deep pink colour with deep flavours to match. Too big for shellfish this needs to be chilled down and poured alongside a rare steak from the barbecue or grilled chicken.
My favourite from the M&S tasting is English Pinot Noir 2013, from Denbies Wine Estate, made by John Worontschak, a Russian-speaking, Australian-born flying winemaker who lives in London. He has a deft hand when it comes to making wine, precise on fruit and balance so this rosé is perfectly poised, elegant in style with the typical English, crisp apple freshness and light strawberry fruit. Team it with salads, grilled fish and summer quiches.
Head to Sainsbury for Winemaker’s Selection Chilean Cabernet Rosé (£6) and its lively raspberry fruit and snappy, zesty finish. Made from 100 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon fruit this wine is unique in Chile since the grapes are first picked by a machine harvester which keeps the berries whole and undamaged, then they are fired in front of a light beam, one at a time. If there is any blemish on that grape a bust of air sends it into the reject bin. Naturally this all happens at a tremendous speed, and the machine it does put me in mind of a fairground stall where balls are suspended on blasts of air, but this is the only one of these sophisticated machines in Chile, following the trend that is really catching on in Europe. At just £6, the wine is good and you can impress your friends as you pour it by telling them about the new style of wine technology being used.
While you are at Sainsbury, pick up a bottle of Taste the Difference Fronton Negrette Rosé 2013. Negrette is a local grape in South West France and it gives juicy, raspberry flavours with a wonderful, silky texture that can stand up to all kinds of summer foods. Chill this down and enjoy it with teriyaki chicken kebabs or herb-roasted chicken.
If Tesco is on your route today then Tesco Simply Garnacha Rosé (£4.69) is one to buy in bulk and keep in the fridge. It has punchy, raspberry and bramble fruit that you can simply knock back and enjoy on its own with nibbles or with a full-blown barbecue.
For slightly finer dining Finest Viña Mara Rioja Rosado 2013 (£7.99, Tesco) has more elegance, a crisper finish and a soft, rounded finish.