Rosé has got an image problem. Many estates don’t produce one. In non wine growing countries, it is associated with the sickly sweet cheapies shipped in from California and Australia or regarded as a girl’s drink. Some winemakers dismiss it as simply a quaffing wine – something more along the lines of a cooler. And indeed, the majority of the rosé made in South Africa is the sweet stuff which, it seems, you either love or hate.
I won’t lie: I’ve tasted ghastly rosés and can’t help a shiver of skepticism when I see a deep and vivid colour staring back at me through the bottle. But I’ve learned not to judge a book by its colour – especially not as, according to one survey carried out in Provence, rosé comes in 21 shades of pink! Rosé can be wonderful. It’s fun and summery: qualities one can never have enough of. It can also be elegant and substantial, a worthy candidate for dinner just as much as a poolside companion.
Rosé is actually the oldest type of wine due to the ease of its wine making process – all the fancy wine making techniques that give us the huge variety of wines nowadays were yet to be discovered back in ancient times. It can be made in three different ways: by skin contact (where the grape skins are removed after a day or so rather than much longer as in the case of red wine); by blending (white + red = rosé) or by “bleeding” some wine off early on in the production of red wine (the red wine produced will be stronger in colour and tannin as a result).
Back in the olden days, rosé was revered as the highest quality wine – the darker the wine, the less desirable it was. Red wines from top notch Bordeaux would have been more akin to rosés in colour and were referred to as vin d’une nuit: literally, wine of one night, with grape skin contact happening for one night only. Producers in Champagne would try and make their wines a bit more colourful by adding elderberries: not much chance of that happening today under the strict wine regulations that also dictate that only 3-5% of wine made in Champagne can be rosé.
The largest area of rosé production in France is Provence – where French wine was “born” after the Greeks brought vines over all the way back in 600 BC. Nowadays, 2/3 of wine produced there is rosé, predominantly dry rosé with Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault being some of the main cultivars. And what better companions to go with all the vibrant seafood, garlic, tomato and herbs of Provencal cuisine.
Due to the lack of AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlee)type wine regulations in our country, the winemaker is free to make rosé out of any grape he sees fit – but Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are a popular choice, as a single varietal wines or in a blend. Now that spring has sprung, it’s time to get ready for the warm weather. Here are just a few of the lovelier dry rosés the Cape has to offer.
Almenkerk Lace – Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Dry, delicate and Provencal in style with some tropical fruit happening on the palate. My number one.
Constantia Glen Saddle, Merlot driven Bordeaux blend – Copper pink in colour, light flavour of cherries and strawberries and a sexy smoky finish. A worthy contender for Almenkerk’s Lace.
Delaire Graff Cabernet Franc Rosé – stunning neon pink colour, bouquet of rosés and a palate full of melon and red apple, with some savouriness happening as well.
Buitenverwachting Blanc de Noir, Bordeaux blend with Pinot Noir – a light pillar box red in colour with a red pepper and tomato flavour. Awesome with food, great alone, too.
Gabrielskloof The Rosebud, Viognier and Shiraz – what it says on the tin: roses, roses and more roses. Fresh and cleansing.
Bartinney Vineyard’s Noble Savage, Cabernet Sauvignon – smoky, earthy, savoury with a touch of vanilla. In the more value for money category, but it sure as hell is lekker.
Diermersdal Sauvignon Rosé, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc – smoky, green pepper-y and strong. A very masculine Rosé, perfect for braai time.
Uitkyk, Pinot Grigio – elegant and bone dry. Hints of passion fruit and brandy.
Morgenster Caruso, Sangiovese – Lots of minerality, minimal fruit. Italian flavour from a top, top estate.