I make no excuses for a focus on rosés this month. You may be seeing a lot of this colour of wine on your social media feeds at the moment, but then, it is the perfect time of year for rosé – and England makes some pretty perfect rosés. To quote the legendary wine writer Oz Clarke: ‘Pink, or rosé wines will be one of the most important styles made in Britain over the next 10 to 20 years.’
The first question to consider is whether you want your pink wine with bubbles or not. If you’re staying still, is your preference for the fresh, dry Provençal style, or do you prefer something a little sweeter? Read on to discover four wines that offer you options whatever style you prefer.
Ancre Hill Sparkling Rosé 2013
Grape: Pinot Noir
Ancre Hill Estates is located in the Welsh county of Monmouthshire on ancient mudstone and sandstone soils; the estate utilises biodynamic and organic viticultural practices. The wine was fermented in stainless steel and concrete with an élevage of over 12 months for the base wine, then four years on lees.
This sparkling rosé exhibits a beautiful balance of delicate red fruit and brioche notes from the lees ageing. Raspberry and cranberry are pronounced on the nose, joined by redcurrant and ripe Royal Gala apple on the palate. Pale coloured, with a fine mousse, it has real zing and energy to it, feeling much younger than its vintage would suggest. It has zero dosage, and while rapier sharp, it is not lean.
Flint Vineyard Charmat Rosé 2018
Grape: Solaris, Bacchus, Reichensteiner & Rondo
Based in the sunny and sheltered Waveney Valley in South Norfolk, overlooking the villages of Earsham and Bungay, Flint Vineyard make a benchmark Bacchus, but winemaker Ben Witchell also innovates, with this rare English sparkling (which is not made in the traditional method) being a prime example.
Charmat is the name of the Frenchman who optimised and patented the method used in the production of Prosecco. The Charmat method involves a secondary fermentation in tank rather than bottle; by releasing the wine earlier, a more fruit-driven style of wine is produced. The grape varieties used in Flint’s Charmat Rosé are also more fruit-forward and provide a fullness of body to the wine that in a traditional method wine would have been produced by the lees ageing.
A beautiful, almost luminous, pink colour, the wine is an arresting sight that grabs your attention even before the senses of smell and taste are engaged. When they are, you will experience a nose full of forest fruits and tastes of brambles, nectarine, mulberry and lime, with a hint of minerality. The residual sugar balances the crisp acidity and the palate has a balanced texture and long finish.
Denbies Wine Estate Rose Hill NV
Grapes: Pinot Noir & Rondo
If you prefer an off-dry style of rosé, this is for you. The vineyards of Denbies Estate where this wine comes from are situated on the North Downs, near the town of Dorking, with its famous chalky soil, in a protected valley of south-facing slopes. The vines are well established, with planting commencing in 1986; a total of 265 acres out of the 700-acre estate have rows of vines marching across them. They have produced their Rose Hill wine for many years now and have clearly perfected the formula.
The individual red grape varieties were gently pressed, delivering an elegant pink hue. Cool fermented at 15c, the ferment was stopped before completion by refrigeration, in order to capture some of the natural sweetness in the grapes.
This is a full-flavoured rosé, rich in colour, which benefits from the cool English climate. A vibrant nose of summer fruits leads to a palate bursting with punnets of strawberries and raspberries, a hint of toffee apple and a persistent cassis finish.
Winbirri Vineyard Pinot Noir Rosé 2018
Grapes: Pinot Noir
Winbirri Vineyards has 25 acres in Surlingham, an important Anglo-Saxon settlement on the edge of the Norfolk Broads National Park. The name Winbirri, comes from the Anglo-Saxon ‘win’ (wine) and ‘birri’ (grape). The soils are very light, sandy loams with clay about 6ft down. There is a high flint content. This means that water drains well, but with a reservoir at the clay level for the vines to draw on in the driest summers.
On the back of a perfect vintage in 2018, Winbirri celebrated the release of this Pinot Noir rosé – a first for them. This is a serious rosé with complex aromas of cherries, strawberries and cream, demonstrating a balanced palate of red fruits and rose petals – while crisp and fresh, there is definitely enough fruit to avoid the acidity overwhelming the experience. It is perfect for sipping as an aperitif or paired with fresh seafood.
More from Grape Britannia:
We caught up with Matt Hodgson of Grape Britannia after his monumental win to become the 2020 Decanter Retailer Awards Best English & Welsh Wine Specialist.
Matt Hodgson of Grape Britannia selects four more from his range of English wines, including an Organic Pinot Noir from Davenport and Saffron Grange Classic Cuvée from Essex.