One of the reasons rosé doesn’t get taken seriously as a wine is that producers tend not to talk much about what’s in it. This can give the impression that all rosés are the same, whereas there is quite a range of styles.
Rosés are usually made with whatever red wine grapes are predominant in a region. In New Zealand and South Africa, that’s often pinot noir, whereas in Argentina it’s malbec, and in Spain tempranillo or garnacha. Winemakers in southern France use the grenache, syrah, cinsault and mourvèdre that produce their robust reds.
Fashion also plays a part. Provençal rosés, say, are almost always pale, usually due to blending in some white wine (most often rolle), which at best can give them an attractively creamy texture and at worst a pinot grigio-like blandness. One of my current favourites is Domaine de Triennes Rosé (12.5% abv), which you may well find on tap in hipper watering holes. You can buy the 2016 by the bottle for £11.95 from The Whisky Exchange and £12.60 from Bottle Apostle.
In my book, the most interesting rosé grapes are cinsault, a high proportion of which gives a rosé an attractively savoury bite, and mourvèdre, which adds an exotic, floral note. Try it in the well-structured Le Galantin Bandol 2015 (£14.50 Tanners; 14% abv), which is powerful enough to take on a garlicky bourride or grilled lamb chops. If you have a slightly sweeter palate or want a wine to stand up to spice, pinot noir is a good variety to look out for. The raspberry-scented The Ned 2016 Pinot Rosé (£7.99 on Majestic’s mixed-six deal, £10.99 Ocado; 13% abv) is to my mind a far more appealing off-dry option than rosé d’Anjou. Personally, I’d pay £3 extra for the more elegant Black Cottage Rosé 2016 (£12.99 Majestic; 13% abv), which is also from Marlborough and which tempers the sweet pinot fruit with a nice touch of acidity. Or, for a home-grown English pinot, try Ingrid Bates’ charming Dunleavy Rosé 2016 (£11.95 plus p&p direct from Dunleavy, £14.99 Grape & Grind in Bristol; 11.5% abv), which has an appealing, gooseberry tartness that would go well with grilled mackerel.
It’s also worth looking out for reductions on the 2015 vintage as retailers clear the decks for the 2016s, particularly on more expensive rosés that have greater staying power. If you need convincing how characterful rosé can be, try the soft, fruity Eschenhof Holzer Wagram Rosé (12% abv), made from Austria’s indigenous zweigelt, on offer at Red Squirrel for £10, rather than the previous £14. Smart bottle, too.