Wine Club: Think pink for summer

Summer is here, which means one thing - time to crack open the rose.
Summer is here, which means one thing - time to crack open the rose.
  • Rosé wine makers have ditched the sweetness in favour of delicious crisp flavours, says Christine Austin.
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Is there anything more impressive than a magnum of rosé wine, nestling in ice, in the centre of a table set out on the lawn? The size of the bottle, containing 12 glasses of wine, clearly indicates that this is a lunch that could last well into the afternoon, and after the meal you are left with a stylish bottle to remind you of that long, sunny, summer day.

Majestic has once again launched its selection of rosé wines in magnums which are well worth snapping up now, even if your summer lunch party is not for several weeks since they disappear from stores rather quickly. If a magnum is rather too large, then other supermarkets and retailers have stocked up with the fresh flavours of new vintage rosés so now is the time to head out and buy some.

Pink wine is definitely back in fashion. It is no longer the compromise wine for those who can’t make their mind up between red and white; rosé is the wine of choice for summer days in the garden and picnics.

Styles have changed to provide strawberry-packed flavours, and most of them have ditched the sweetness to give crisp, crunchy flavours that go particularly well with food.

One of the main changes is that many rosé wines are no longer made as a by-product of red wine making.

These days the grapes are grown and the wine is made with rosé definitely in mind.

It means that the grapes are picked at the right time to give those delicious crisp flavours and the fruit is fresher and more vibrant.

I recently tasted through 36 premium rosé wines, all blind, to find out which were the best, and I have added in various rosés from the supermarkets.

Depending on your budget, here is my choice of what to buy.

£6 and under

• Simply Garnacha Rosé, Spain, Tesco £4.69: Gloriously simple with punchy, raspberry and bramble fruit that you can simply knock back and enjoy on its own with nibbles or with a full-blown barbecue.

• Winemakers’ Selection Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2014, Sainsbury’s, £6: Made from 90% Grenache, with a splash of Cinsault and Syrah, this bursts on to the palate with lively cherry and spice flavour. It isn’t complex or difficult, just straightforward fun.

• The Exquisite Collection Malbec Rosé 2014, Mendoza, Argentina, Aldi, £5.99: Deep in colour and in flavour, this is chock full of raspberry and redcurrant fruit. Arriving in stores in July.

£8 and under

• Finest Domaine de Sours Rosé, Tesco, £6.79: The little brother of Ch de Sours (see below) made from a Merlot/Cabernet blend. Deeper in flavour than the main wine and good for mid-week drinking.

• Reserve de la Saurine Rosé 2014, Rhône Valley, France, Marks and Spencer £7: Made from a typical Rhône blend of Grenache, Carignan, Cinsault and Syrah this is delightfully aromatic and full of juicy strawberry and raspberry fruit. The grapes grow on gravelly slopes with the Mistral wind blowing through the vines, keeping temperatures down and flavours fresh. It has the taste of summer in the bottle – enjoy it on its own or drink with salads and snacks.

• Taste the Difference Côtes de Provence Rosé 2014, France, £8 Sainsbury’s: Head to this traditional curvy Provence bottle for a pale, delicious, raspberry-edged wine with a dry, food-friendly finish.

£10 and under

• Mirabeau Rosé 2014, Côtes de Provence, France, Waitrose, £9.29: Consistting of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache from high altitude vineyards means that this is packed with raspberry and strawberry fruit with a light touch of spice, and a clean, bright, fresh finish. Team this with salad and cold meats.

• AIX Rosé 2014, Coteaux d’Aix en Provence, Majestic, £19.99 (Magnum.): Magnum sized and ready for a summer party this is a crisp, delicate, wild strawberry-scented wine, dry and elegant on the finish.

• Muga Rosado 2014, Rioja, Spain, Waitrose, £9.99: You may be more used to red or white Rioja, but the small family firm Muga also make a delicious rosé from Garnacha and Tempranillo grapes. It has ripe, red apple fruit, underpinned with crisp citrus acidity and rather more depth and complexity than many other rosés. Perfect with foods such as tapas, gazpacho and langoustines.

£13 and under

• Ch de Sours Bordeaux Rosé 2014, Bon Coeur (01765 688200), £11.59: Made from 100% Merlot, this consistent, elegant wine is made in the pale, Provence style with creamy summer berry fruit and a fresh, lively finish. Good as a sun-downer with savoury nibbles.

• English Pinot Noir Rosé 2014, Surrey, Marks and Spencer, £13: Made at Denbies, the UK’s largest wine estate, on the North Downs, this wine is only available in larger stores, but it is well worth seeking out for its delicate, floral aromas and crisp, citrusy style. It is light, tangy and laced with summer fruits and is just perfect to go with scallops, salmon and salad niçoise.

• Les Caillottes Sancerre Rosé, France, Sainsbury, £13: Made from 100% Pinot Noir grown on the clay and limestone soils of Sancerre, this is a seriously, elegant, delicate wine with gentle perfume and a crisp, precise finish. Very pale, it has a lot more flavour than its colour suggests. Team this with grilled Dover sole.

Make an impression

• Miraval Rosé 2014, Côtes de Provence, Majestic, £17.99: I am not sure how much time Brad and Angelina spend pruning the vines and picking the grapes at their estate, Ch. Miraval in Correns 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. Also available at Harvey Nichols.

• Domaine Ott, Clos Mireille 2014, Côtes de Provence, Harvey Nichols. £36.50: Expensive for a summer rosé but it really is delicious. It has the colour of new ballet shoes, with the flavours of ripe peach and nectarine topped with cream, and just a twist of pepper and a citrus finish. I gave this wine my top mark in the blind tasting line-up, mainly for its silky, creamy, rounded texture.