February and the run-up to Valentine’s Day is one of my favourite times of the year. No, it’s not because I’m a hopeful romantic, but, in fact, I use it as an excuse to explore some of the latest and great English sparkling rosés. This year, the selection favours youthful, fruit-forward wines, with a couple of more complex, textured expressions. Covering Sussex, Kent and Dorset, I found this a most rewarding selection, with each wine offering a welcoming embrace that would be just perfect for cracking open on the big day!
Busi-Jacobsohn Rosé 2018
Grapes: Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier
Are you looking for a fruit-forward, generously romantic rosé? This Busi-Jacobsohn is your wine. It was made from a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, with a small portion (7%) having been fermented in barrels.
I loved the colour on this – there was no mincing of words here, this is definitely a rosé wine – confidently pink with an evocative nose to match. There’s cherry, red apple, raspberry and even a touch of candy apple.
It’s got a generous presence on the palate too, combining brisk, crisp acidity (dosage is low at 4.6g/l), but this is balanced with exuberant, ripe red fruit from that fantastic, warm 2018 vintage.
Busi-Jacobsohn’s owners are big foodies, and I have it on good authority that this is divine with homemade ravioli.
Coolhurst Lady Elizabeth 2016
Grapes: Pinot Noir
Perhaps the sleekest bottle in English wine right now, there’s something quite alluring about pulling on the tab on the neck foil to unwrap this wine’s charms. This is 100% Pinot Noir and is a joyous celebration of the grape.
Lady Elizabeth proves once again to be an intoxicating bottle, with fragrant aromas of red cherry, strawberry and raspberry.
The palate sings on this wine too, with a clean cranberry and redcurrant bite that leads to the promised ripe raspberry and cherry goodness.
I picked up a slight savoury note – a hint of black pepper and perhaps star anise. This is another food-friendly option, and I can see it pairing well with something like roast lamb.
Langham Rosé 2017
Grapes: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier & Chardonnay
As one of my favourite English sparkling producers over the last few months, I was incredibly excited when winemaker Tommy told me this is Langham’s best wine yet. It’s a blend of 54% Pinot Noir, 23% Pinot Meunier and 23% Chardonnay with a low dosage of 4g/l. Just under a quarter (23%) of the wine underwent primary fermentation in oak.
The nose on this is immense, with a fusion of wild strawberry, raspberry and grapefruit peel, and hints of roasted nuts and spices.
The Langham Rosé is bone dry due to its low dosage, but I found the palate to be incredibly full and flowing. The brisk cranberry and pink grapefruit bite leads to a luscious fusion of cherry and strawberries, while the savoury, spiced notes are followed by a lengthy citrus-laced finish.
I’m sure this would pair very well with food, but this wine is so delicious, I would just like to sit there, staring into the eyes of my loved one, whilst getting lost in this wine’s wondrous charms.
Henners Rosé NV
Grapes: Pinot Meunier & Pinot Noir
The latest rosé release from Henners in Sussex (look out for more Henners content later this month) is a Saignée method wine, where the pink colour comes the pressing of the grape skins, rather than red wine blended in. It’s unusually a Pinot Meunier (65%) dominant blend, with the remaining 35% being Pinot Noir.
Delicate in colour, the Henners has a brisk, clean nose of chalk and lemon, with clean cranberry and raspberry aromas and light biscuit tones.
To taste, there’s a brisk rush of tangy red berries and citrus energy, and I found there to be floral and savoury hints, adding structure to the relatively lean, clean red fruit profile.
I think this rosé would be particularly good with pastries – perhaps an excuse to pop open a bottle on Sunday morning for a romantic Valentine’s breakfast?
Herbert Hall Brut Rosé 2017
Grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier
I always look forward to a new wine from Herbert Hall, as their wines always have tremendous depth and complexities. This 2017 has only just been released, and is a blend of almost a third each of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
The Herbert Hall is closer to pale salmon in colour, with a nose that is reminiscent of strawberry, lemon peel and shortbread.
The palate is brisk and bright; the bottle I tasted was only just disgorged in December. However, this is true to the Herbert Hall style, combining bright red berry flavours with deeper biscuity sensations and a suggestion of creamy white chocolate.
In fact, I think this would be perfectly paired with a spot of Valentine’s Day chocolate indulgence – perhaps a white chocolate and strawberry dessert?
Simpsons Canterbury Rosé 2018
Grapes: Pinot Noir
The 2018 vintage sparkling wines I’ve had from Kent so far have featured superb red fruit concentration, and this is another fine example of that. This is made from 100% Pinot Noir and is packed full of that classic red berry character.
I immediately noticed the red berry aroma of strawberry, cherry and cranberry, seasoned with a sprinkling of rose petal on the nose.
The palate is delightful, and absolutely where the ripe Pinot Noir character shines through, with bags of ripe red cherry and strawberry flavours, and a soft and creamy mid-taste.
Incredibly fruit-forward, this bottle is juicy and rounded and is sure to go down a treat on Valentine’s.
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