Rosé – Our pink addiction
Rosé wine has enjoyed phenomenal success in recent years, helped in a large part by much better winemaking and focus, and in some part a change in the way we eat and drink.
The profile of rosé has changed too, with lighter coloured and dry-tasting wines better suited to go with food dominating the shelves and wine lists. That they marry so effortlessly with the eclectic cuisine we enjoy in this country has won them a strong following throughout the year. Our love of rosé is no longer just a summer holiday romance.
What makes a good rosé?
In a word: charm. For a wine of such apparent simplicity, rosé is one of the hardest to get right, as the slightest mistake can result in a wine that may be coarse and clumsy. Having said that, those who succeed tend to do so year after year. So the first rule of thumb is to find out who is good and stick with them.
All red wine producing grapes can make great rosé and they can be used on their own to make a single varietal wine or in combination with others as a blend. As with all shades of wine, the choice of grape will obviously affect the taste. Some of the most popular grapes used for rosé are grenache, pinot noir, tempranillo, sangiovese and shiraz.
Where are rosés made?
Rosé wines can come from anywhere red grapes are grown and with each year the net seems to be getting wider. There are now delicious rosés coming from as far apart as Argentina and South Africa, but the heartland of this style remains around the Mediterranean where rosé wines were originally made to compensate for the lack of whites.
The spiritual home of rosé draws inspiration from several varieties. Most contain cinsault, grenache and syrah (shiraz), while the better ones will include mourvèdre, and cabernet sauvignon is also allowed in some parts. These have the oomph to cope with garlicky aïolis, beef grilled over aromatic brush or chunks of beef and red pepper skewered on sprigs of fresh rosemary and are so much more refreshing than a red on a hot day.
Rosé is so celebrated here that is has its own research institution – The Centre for Rosé Research in Provence has catalogued over 140 hues of rosé.
For so long in Australia, rosé was an afterthought by winemakers, or perhaps used to create some early cash flow from each vintage. Now being treated seriously by many, the wines reflect this attention and care. All the major regions are producing fantastic takes on the pink stuff. Regions have had a chance to experiment with the various varieties and it is clear that tempranillo is thriving in Margaret River and Adelaide Hills, whilst pinot noir’s traditional homes of Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula are producing stunning examples and grenache is great in its traditional homes of Barossa and McLaren Vale.