English Sparkling Rosé in the Spotlight

With summer in full swing, and people able to once again get out and about and share (socially distanced) moments with their loved ones, it’s undoubtedly a great time to explore and celebrate English Sparkling Rosé.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve had a chance to sample quite an array of both new releases and old favourites, so I thought it would be appropriate to post a round-up of rosé wines that will hit the mark on these warmer days.

Raimes 2015 Vintage Rosé

Grapes: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay & Pinot Meunier
Region: Hampshire

Raimes from Hampshire have continually impressed with their fresh, textured and refined sparkling wines, and this first rosé from them is no different. It’s a blend of 58% Pinot Noir, 22% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Meunier.

It is pale and Provence-like in colour, with a delicate nose to match of wild strawberry, cranberry and cherry, and a twist of fresh citrus and grapefruit.

For a wine that appears so delicate, there’s a prominent summer red berry flavour profile. It’s super fresh and crisp, but that acidity is surrounded by really pure cherry and cranberry flavours and a hint of cream and pastry. A most pleasing drop of rosé to enjoy in the garden whilst watching the summer blooms.

Herbert Hall Brut Rosé 2016

Grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier
Region: Kent

Herbert Hall Brut Rosé is one of those wines that absolutely delivers on English Sparkling Wine typicity. The latest 2016 vintage is a near equal split of 35% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and 30% Pinot Meunier.

Its nose, a fusion of freshly picked strawberries and raspberries, hints at blossom, a twist of citrus and light pastry notes. Every bit the picture of an English summer.

Its pretty nose manifests on the palate in a textured, yet strikingly refreshing way. The red fruit is ripe and ready, seasoned by a hint of spiced biscuit, with delicate layers of creaminess, yet all the while brisk and refreshing.

Hush Heath Balfour Brut Rosé 2016

Grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier
Region: Kent

This is one of my go-to English rosé sparkling wines. It’s one that never fails to provide an expressive, balanced and ultimately, a hugely enjoyable drinking experience. The latest 2016 vintage is a blend of 54% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay and 13% Pinot Meunier from a single vineyard that was planted in 2002.

This vintage has a bright, exuberant nose of freshly picked strawberry and raspberry, with zesty citrus and that Balfour signature stamp of honey.

To taste, the Balfour is wonderfully fresh and punchy, with powerful citrus and tangy cranberry flavours. It’s riper on the mid-taste, with a mixture of strawberry and cherry flavours and a creamy generosity. The finish of tangerine peel and honeyed, spiced pastry bequeaths a lasting impression, and leaves you reaching for just another glass.

Harrow & Hope Rosé 2017

Grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier
Region: Buckinghamshire

This is the latest rosé from the ever-reliable Harrow & Hope. I found this a touch reductive on release, and thought this needed a bit of time after opening to show its true colours.

And colourful it is, with bright aromas of cherry, raspberry and candied citrus peel, with just the right amount of baked pastry complexity.

To taste, it’s immediately crisp, with a tangy fusion of cranberry and citrus leading on to a fleshy, full mid-taste of ripe red berries and white peach. It is nicely rounded, with excellent structure and light spiced notes on the finish.

Oastbrook Sparkling Rosé 2015

Grapes: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay & Pinot Meunier
Region: Sussex

A blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Meunier, this second vintage of sparkling rosé from Oastbrook, made by the great Dermot Sugrue, is one of my favourite rosés of the year.

It’s a delicious and bold rosé that commands attention and attracts immediately with its confident colours. The nose of ripe red berries, with hints of darker fruit and spiced biscuits, is hugely welcoming.

The palate is rich and sumptuous, with big waves of ripe summer berries intertwined with vibrant grapefruit freshness. With savoury and biscuity complexities, this is a grown-up rosé that is also hugely food-friendly. To describe a rosé as ‘meaty’ feels so wrong. But after tasting this wine, it feels oh-so-right.

Saffron Grange Rosé 2018

Grapes: Pinot Noir
Region: Essex

This new release from Saffron Grange, located on the outskirts of Saffron Walden in Essex, is made from 100% Pinot Noir and has spent a brisk 12 months on lees. It’s rather surprisingly the only ‘Rosé de Noirs’ (made exclusively from red grapes) in this line-up.

The resulting wine is a brisk and energetic rosé that is oh-so-drinkable. Its nose of freshly picked strawberries, a twist of bright citrus and light floral hues couldn’t be more summery.

To taste, there’s a bright first impression of tangy cranberry and lemony intensity, leading to a fusion of strawberry and raspberry. The sugar level (11.1g/l residual) is perhaps a tad high for my liking but it does ensure considered balance, and is sure to please those looking for an easy-sipping summer rosé.

Posted in Articles, Spotlight Tasting.

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