Wine – Pale, pink and posh

What has happened to rosé wine over recent years has to be the biggest thing to change in the world of wine since that 17th century monk Dom Pérignon added bubbles to it. 

Pink has become posh, a trend that was born out of France’s Provence region producing pale-coloured, dry and elegant wines that have no relation whatsoever to the sweet and sticky rosés of old. This style of rosé is singularly responsible for what many are calling the rosé revival but, in truth, it is not really a revival at all, as rosé wine has never been so popular as it is today. 

But, more importantly, producers and connoisseurs have started to take rosé seriously and here in Portugal winemakers from the Douro to the Algarve have been too quick to catch on.

We need only take a look at the rosé wine selection in any supermarket, especially in Apolónia’s Almancil and Lagoa stores where the selection is vast, to see how this trend has revolutionised rosé wine.

Pale pinks in the Provence style are now produced in all of Portugal’s main wine producing regions and there are some good examples out there, but to appreciate how good rosé can get we need to open up the purse strings a little and sample the real thing.

One of the most prominent producers of posh pink is Château D’Esclans, the Provence winery that famously produces Garrus, the world’s most expensive and arguably the best rosé priced at around €100 a bottle.

I had the chance to try Garrus last year and wrote about it in this column. It was superb. But otherwise I had until recently only tried the entry level rosé from this producer – Whispering Angel (€19.95 at Apolónia). This is already a serious rosé wine, fresh and clean on the nose with notes of strawberries and raspberries, yet totally dry in the mouth with good acidity and a long finish. But open the purse strings a little more and we start to enter the realm of great rosé with Rock Angel and Les Clans priced at €29.95 and €59.95 respectively, also at Apolónia. 

Rock Angel is an altogether more complex wine, partially aged in used oak barrels but without so much as a hint of oak on the nose. This is a slightly richer wine although still fresh with floral and herbal notes mingling with raspberry, tangerine and cherry.

At this level we are already well past the realm of quaffing wine but moving up to Les Clans we are dealing with a gastronomic wine in every sense, and a rosé that has the body and structure of serious white Burgundy.

The wine is oak-fermented and aged but the effect of the oak is very subtle on the nose with hints of toast and spice marrying with pear, roses and strawberry.

In the mouth, it is full-bodied and intense with a solid acidity. It was suggested to me that the perfect food match for this wine was grilled lamb and, having put this to the test with some crispy lamb spare ribs, I could not agree more.

The wines of Château D’Esclans are distributed in Portugal by Prime Wines – 914 666 476.

By PATRICK STUART [email protected]