I’m trying to do my bit for the rosé cause, but a string of disappointing wines last week left me with little of interest to write up. Thank goodness for this, then.
Made from Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this wine’s aroma is all about freshness, which is a satisfying (if conventional) way to approach the style. The leafy side of these varieties dominates, along with a crisper, edgier dose of red capsicum (from the Franc, perhaps). I think I smell some black pepper too, speaking more to the sharpness of the aroma profile than any pungency or spice. There’s a lack of depth and layering, but it’s so bright and fresh, it’s easy to forgive such simplicity.
At first I thought there too much sugar on the palate; after a few tastes, I’m now finding it quite well balanced. Certainly I’ve tasted much sweeter rosés, and the residual sugar here is more than balanced by firm acid and a flavour profile that, like the aroma, emphasises fresh vegetation more than deep fruit. Sizzling capsicum, unfolding ferns, a hint of tomato bush; underneath it all, just enough light red berries to make me smile. The palate seems more complex than the nose, with an added layer or two, all well integrated and lively.
A delicious, drinkable style of some character. Fully priced, though.
Château de Sours
I’m not aware of any other Pinot Noir Sangiovese Rosés made of grapes sourced from the Pyrenees and Macedon Ranges – so this immediately scores points as a curio. It’s much more than a novelty though; this is a seriously tasty wine.
The nose immediately sets the tone with a nice hit of savoury, slightly funky musk and red berry fruit. One of the things I enjoy about dryer rosé styles is the wildness their aroma profiles can display. This isn’t a truly loose one, but there’s enough angularity to keep me happy, underpinned by plenty of clean, characterful fruit. This is a million miles from blandness.
The palate shows lively spritz and a nice level of flavour intensity. Entry is clean and cool, allowing flavours to crescendo towards the middle palate. It’s not a smack down sort of wine, but it’s very well balanced and is structured firmly enough to create some sizzle and impact. A little roundness from the after palate onwards suggests residual sugar, but it’s subtle and does not detract from the delicious savouriness that characterises the wine as a whole. A gentle, fruit-driven finish.
Really nice rosé with heaps of personality.
Another adventurous rosé, this time from Victorian producer Mitchell Harris. This is a multi-region blend of unusual varieties; Pinot Noir from the Macedon Ranges and Sangiovese from the Pyrenees. This might seem a bit of a hodge-podge but for the fact that both regions tend towards boutique production and the price of this wine is anything but low-end. At $22 or thereabouts, it sits firmly in the “serious rosé” price bracket.
Quite a pale colour, more like dilute strawberry than salmon. The nose is controlled, with layers of piercing spice, pale red fruit and slightly muskier notes. It’s getting noticeably more complex the longer it sits in the glass, with some feral earthy notes adding depth and texture to the aroma profile. Ends up savoury and quite singular, with some juicy rough edges.
In the mouth, a bit more relaxed than suggested by the nose, with some fruit sweetness to temper the more angular elements of the flavour profile. I like this wine’s structure very much; the acid seems right and there’s some lightly drying texture through the after palate. There’s also a pleasing sense of fullness here that does not come at the expense of brisk movement through the mouth. What’s challenging is the set of flavours; they veer from sweet cherries to wet leaves and back. There’s a sense of boisterousness verging on disorganisation in how they present. Yet it’s so flavoursome and fun, I keep wanting to take another sip.
Really interesting wine that communicates a sense of exploration and seriousness in the context of a style that is, ostensibly, all about mindless enjoyment.
And now for something completely different (at least compared to this and this).
The nose is quite thick, with turkish delight, fresh red fruits and ripped berry skins. Not hugely complex nor terribly piercing; instead, generous, soft, fun. This is a comfortable rosé (if such a thing exists) with as much dark, sweet berry juice as flowers and other higher toned aromas.
The palate shows consistently with the aroma. It’s very relaxed on entryl fruit flavour soon flops onto the middle palate then gushes over the tongue. This is surprisingly full and rich for a rosé. It’s not overly sweet, though there’s clearly a degree of Grenache fruit character (which can seem inherently sweet) and a touch of residual sugar too. I’d like more acid — the thickness of the flavour profile would benefit from some cut and thrust, structurally. The finish is surprisingly, satisfyingly long, with candy and sour lollies the main notes.
I’m not sure this would cut it as a refreshing summer drink. Rather, I feel it would make a great red wine substitute where you’re looking for something lighter without sacrificing generosity of flavour. Like other Yelland & Papps wines I’ve tasted, it is purpose-designed for utterly frictionless drinking pleasure.
Yelland & Papps
Act Two in my own De Bortoli 2010 rosé notes, having yesterday tasted the Estate edition. This is altogether less fine a wine, but to my mind meets a different need. A few bucks cheaper too.
The nose is slightly feral, with firmly savoury fruit and a wildly aromatic bent that some dry rosés can show. I tend to like such aroma profiles and don’t mind some vulgarity, though here there’s enough density to temper the sharper aromas. With some time and a bit of air, some cuddlier aromas begin to emerge; slightly simple red fruit flavours and a bit of sap. All in all, an interesting nose.
The palate is less chiselled and precise than the Estate wine. It place of the latter’s clear delineation of flavours, this wine shows robust, more softly generous fruit and bouncy texture. Although there are some sweet raspberries lurking in there, the dominant flavours are again savoury in character. My main criticism of this wine is that its flavours lack definition; each thread blurs into the next and compromises an overall impression of freshness. Acid provides bubbly texture through the after palate in particular, while flavours take off in a crushed leaf and fresh red berry direction.
This seems to be De Bortoli’s interpretation of an accessible rosé style. Like the Estate wine, it emphasises savouriness and texture, but offers a less sophisticated and in many respects more accessible flavour profile.
Sometimes, I wonder why I ever moved to Brisbane. Sure, it’s beautiful today, and I’m sure it will be perfect tomorrow, but I’m a Canberra boy at heart. I like cold, mercilessly windy Winters and hot, dry Summers, not least because they tend to be framed by idyllic Springs and Autumns. Brisbane, on the other hand, goes from warm to ridiculous, with days (like today) that feel hot well in excess of the measured temperature. Natives say it’s the humidity, and assure me I’ll get used to it, but like many acquired tastes I’m not sure whether it’s worth the effort.
In any case, I needed some refreshment this afternoon and reached for this Grenache-based rosé from Yelland & Papps, a small producer in the Barossa Valley. A lurid strawberry colour, not overly dense but certainly pretty in its neon way. A party colour. The nose is exuberant, with boiled lollies and a counterpoint of savoury, medicinal notes. Simple, fun and certainly generous. It might present too much confectionary for those who prefer a more savoury rosé style; it’s all about context I guess.
The palate is quite full, with a round mouthfeel and surprisingly intense flavour. The entry is soft and a little underwhelming. The middle palate, by contrast, is full of bright flavours that echo the sweet/savoury profile of the aroma. Things get even more interesting through the after palate, where the acidity contributes a strong, sour thread that accentuates the savoury aspects of the flavour profile. There seems to be a bit of heat on the finish (13% abv).
An honest, flavoursome wine that would suit casual Summer quaffing for those not averse to the sweeter (and more alcoholic) side of Grenache.
Yelland & Papps
When I’m shopping for a relatively cheap pink wine (and for me, that means ten bucks or less), there are very, very few things I’m concerned about, to be honest. The wine should be screwcapped so that I am able to quickly bust it open when I get home from work; the wine should be dry as I think that sweet pink liquids are best left to manufacturers of children’s medicines, and (ideally) there should be some flavor in the wine, preferably something you’d want more than one glass of.This wine works for me on all counts. It’s easily opened, it’s bone dry, and it tastes vaguely like a rhubarb fool: slightly acidic, with pretty red berry flavors and a fine, creamy texture. It is just fine. No, it will not leave you rambling on about garrigue and Provençal herbs. The color is pink, Jolly Rancher Watermelon pink, and not an elegant onionskin pinkish yellow. The flavors are straightforward and good, no pussyfooting around.It’d be hard to do better than this at this price point – yes, I would rather have a bottle of Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare or the Crios de Susana Balbo malbec rosé – but if this is on sale, it’s as cheap as you’re gonna get without venturing into “do not put in mouth” territory. Honest.By the way, if you ever find yourself on vacation in Mendoza, do take a trip down to the place where this wine is made. It is absolutely one of the most overwrought wineries I’ve ever seen (somehow without being vulgar) – if I remember correctly, it was built by Dutch orthodontists spending their retirement money in South America or something along those lines. It features the most insanely ridiculous spittoons I’ve ever seen: stand-alone plinths that look like they were ganked from a travelling Star Trek prop exhibition. I’ve never felt quite as self-conscious as I did horking up Syrah into those things; best of all, it’s a cavernous chai, so every tiny noise you make is amplified to truly epic gross-out proportions. Highly recommended: do book ahead and stay at the nearby Postales del Plata Valle de Uco Lodge if you get a chance. It’s awesome.Bodega Salentein
I have previously tasted the 2006 version of this wine and, swirling this more recent edition tonight, my earlier note remains relevant to a large extent. This is a savoury rosé style, quite full and somewhat angular; in other words, a more challenging wine than some.
On the nose, a funky meatiness mixes with flowers, spice, red fruits and vegetation. It’s a serious aroma profile, not blowsy or even particularly expressive. But there’s a nice clean fruit character underlining the whole thing that I like very much. The palate has an unexpected thrust of fruit sweetness that is both sympathetic and a little surprising – the effect is akin to the North African habit of adding fruit to elaborately spiced, savoury dishes, in that it is organic but also creates tension in the flavour profile. Aside from this rounded, sweet red fruit, there are florals and peppery spice and a general masculinity (in the context of rosé style, anyway). It’s fresh and with a good slippery yet somewhat grainy texture. Nice medicinal finish.
Not your usual rosé, then, and perhaps a provocative drink to those who like more outré pink styles, sweet or dry. Personally, I like it a great deal.
Reading between the lines on the beautifully designed label, it would appear that this is another attempt at selling cleanskins (i.e. wines sold not by the wineries that made them, but by third parties that resell them under the own labels) in the USA. Although K&L have been doing this for years under the Kalinda label, and although the Cameron Hughes label has been around for a couple of years, I have yet to see anyone selling wines cheaply. Instead, what you generally get is relatively high end wines at relatively high prices – this, it seems to me, is a mite perverse in what’s generally acknowledged as pretty crappy economic times. After all, a California pink wine at $10 is still relatively expensive considering that this wine was displayed near $7.50 wines from Argentina, $5 wines from Australia, and of course our very own white zinfandels at $3.So how’s the wine?First off, the color is entrancing. It’s a wonderful, dark pink that’s similar to pomegranate juice. It’s not quite so dark that it could be mistaken for a thin red Burgundy, but just barely. The nose is medicinal, shot through with camphor, cotton candy, roasted corn, and a fair whack of spicy black pepper.Tasting at first of nothing but fresh wild strawberries, it’s unsettlingly like a gourmand perfume aimed at teen-aged girls. That passes quickly, though, calming down into rhubarb-ridden cream shot through with subtle spicy notes; the texture is fairly serious for a pink wine, with a sort of supporting tannic note that gives it a certain gravitas. There’s a brief uptick in acidity on the finish, giving it a much needed freshness, and yet the finish does go on for a while, restating the themes of the wine – pepper, strawberry, rhubarb – with a steely repetition of serious, serious, serious. This could be the closest pink wine to a red wine that I’ve ever experienced; it’s an interesting style to say the least. Whether or not it’ll work for you isn’t something I can guess, but I can say that you’re getting a hell of a lot of wine for your money here. Yes, I still wish we had a cleanskins industry of Australia scale, but as long as we have wines like this available for not-outrageous prices, I’m more than satisfied with what we’ve got.Piaceri Wines
Closure: Synthetic cork
Such a beautiful color, this wine; it’s blindingly clear transparent watermelon candy, crimson rose petals leaching into a luxurious bath, cherry fruit leather drying in Andean sunshine. Strangely enough, I’m enjoying looking at this wine more than I am drinking it: this is a wine that doesn’t demand attention or thought, just enjoyment. Obviously, though, not every wine has to be some kind of profound experience; some are just fine as an accompaniment to White Castle sliders and the dying light of a cool May evening in the back yard. On the other hand, that’s really selling this wine short; there are many, many pink wines out there that are vacuous, boring, sweet, or insipid, and this isn’t that either. It smells of simple grapey strawberries, tastes pretty much like that too, but ends on a stylish pivot towards warm spices and refreshing, palate-cleansing acidity. This might not be the focus of my evening like a great wine would be, but it isn’t detracting from anything else, either.Plus: nine bucks? C’mon, that’s a steal. The Cayus Edith rosé I had last week was nowhere near the wine this one is and cost four times as much; I don’t know of any other sub-$10 wines that deliver as much pleasure as this one.Dominio del Plata