Say 'rosé' to many people and it will conjure up images of Whispering Angel being glugged by the gallon on the poolside of an Ibiza day club. (Or was that just me, Summer 2016?)
Love it or loathe it, Whispering Angel has been propelled from a relatively unknown brand to the world's most popular rosé in less than a decade, with in excess of three million bottles a year being drunk in more than 100 countries.
Produced by Chateau d’Esclans, the easy-drinking rosé is less of a wine now and more of a lifestyle choice.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and place for it, but there is much more to rosé than this market monopoliser.
Here are four rosés to stretch your pallet – and push the pink envelope.
Champagne Bruno Paillard Rosé Première Cuvée
It’s telling that rosé accounts for a significant proportion of production at Maison Bruno Paillard – 20%, compared to the region’s total of around 8%. It shows just how seriously the independent wine grower takes its pink.
This Première Cuvée is made primarily from pinot noir, vinified in two ways: white wine is created from the juice with a quick pressing and fast separation of the skins; then red wine from the grape is obtained by a longer maceration of the juice on the skins.
The real secret to Bruno Paillard Rosé’s is the additional touch of chardonnay – the exact amount is only known by a select few at the domaine – but it’s what really lifts the energy of this wine.
Pinot brings the fruit, and chardonnay brings the finesse: it’s a heady one-two punch.
There’s the sweetness of cranberry with the more sour notes of raspberry both delivered from the most beautiful salmon-pink wine.
La Fiorita Ninfalia IGT 2019 Toscana Rosato
When a Brunello vineyard swaps rosso for rosato, you know rosé has really landed.
Even ten years ago, the idea of Montalcino’s finest producing a pink instead of a red would have been laughable.
But such is the premium rosé revolution that La Fiorita, a nine-hectare Brunello Di Montalcino estate, has begun producing its first: Ninfalia.
Made exclusively from sangiovese, the grapes are picked a little earlier and from younger vineyards than those destined for the estate’s storied reds.
The inaugural 2019 vintage spent six months in concrete eggs to bring depth to the texture of the wine.
La Fiorita owner, Natalie, is an American born and bred, but her Calabrese ‘Nonna’ gave her an Italian heritage and education to the family, which exposed her – at an early age – to 'basement winemaking' with her parents, which was common in the New York Italian communities at that time.
Since 2014, She has moved La Fiorita towards organic viticulture and was certified in 2019.
Her first rosé is fleshy and fresh – grapefruit meets summer fruit. Delicious.
New Press Pinot Rosé 2019
This has to be one of the most exciting and enjoyably different rosés I’ve tasted in a long time. It couldn’t be further from the oft-insipid mass-produced rosé flooding the UK market right now.
Indeed, it couldn’t have come from much further away, either – as this dry, crisp wine heralds from Marlborough in New Zealand.
The ‘New’ in the name is no misnomer – both the brand and this wine are barrel-fresh.
It’s a collaboration between Melanie Brown – founder of Specialist Cellars – and highly regarded Marlborough winemaker Ben Glover.
Glover’s vineyards are situated on the Opawa River, which benefits from both a fertile terroir and the natural shelter provided by the Wither Hills.
The proximity of the vines to the high tide mark of Blenheim’s coast can introduce a welcome umami influence into this single-vineyard site.
This rosé provides the biggest explosion of fruit, with wild strawberries dominating the mix.
It still has some subtlety to its delivery, though – after the initial wave of summer fruits has subsided, there’s a delicate floral finish to enjoy, too.
Bolney Lychgate Rosé 2018
This Lychgate from Bolney is the darkest of the line-up, but don’t let that put you off – it’s no sweet thing. There’s plenty of strawberry, raspberry and red apple crammed in there. It’s an English summer’s day in a glass – and a perfect match for Eton mess.
Although, winemaker Sam Linter would point out that it has a lot more to give than that, as pairing suggestions range from Asian food to blue cheese.
Its versatility is partially down to its diverse blend: there’s rondo, pinot noir, meunier and dornfelder in here, making for an exciting yet approachable mix.