Great British Round-up June 2021

After the literal washout of May (did it ever stop raining?), the final May bank holiday weekend finally saw the return of the sun to much of England. This was much to the delight of English vineyard owners, with much of the country being two-to-three weeks behind where they were last year regarding vine growth. The sun also signifies the perfect time to embrace rosé wines so, this month, I’ve focussed my round-up on some of the latest rosé expressions, both in still and sparkling form.

My wine of the month is the indulgent Fox & Fox Expression Saignée Rosé 2014 (£42.00). I’ve been eager to post about this wine after tasting it a few months back pre-release, and it was a real stand-out with its exuberant red fruit and generous textures. Other new releases this month include the subtle but expressive Black Chalk Wild Rose 2018 (£40.00), the latest Balfour Brut Rosé 2017 (£39.99) and the first sparkling rosé from Mereworth (£29.50) in Kent. My final sparkling pick is the Wiston Rosé NV (£29.50) which I tasted as part of a full Wiston range tasting (article to follow later this month).

Moving on to still wines, I’ve put together a selection of some fine new 2020 vintage releases. I would go as far as to say this is the best vintage of still English rosés I’ve tasted to date. All four of the still rosés were made from either Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier, or a blend of the two grapes, and three were from from Kent. The superb Best Turned Out Rosé 2020 from newcomers Yotes Court (coincidentally also from Mereworth in Kent) is joined by familiar favourites, Gusbourne Pinot Noir Rosé (£25.00) and Simpsons Railway Hill 2020 (£19.49). Finally, I’ve also featured the ever excellent Albury Organic Silent Pool Rosé 2020 (£18.95) following my English Rosé Week interview and tasting with owner Nick Wenman.

Fox & Fox Expression Saignée Rosé 2014

WINE OF THE MONTH

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

This luxurious new wine from the excellent Fox & Fox is made in the Saignée method, where the dark pink juice is bled of after a brief period of skin contact. The result is often a deeper and richer style of rosé, as is the case with the aptly called Expression 2014. It’s a blend of 65% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Meunier that has spent at least four years ageing on the lees.

The colour is stunning, but the nose is an absolute thing of beauty. It’s probably the most Pinot Noir-smelling rosé I’ve ever come across, with vivid, vibrant aromas of cherry, raspberry, perfumed floral hints and some deeper spiced pastry notes.

And the palate – oh, what a sumptuous feast it is! I use the word feast because Jonica’s wines are typically vast, gastronomic and incredible food-friendly. Brisk, tingling acidity, and cranberry tartness lead to soft waves of ripe red cherries. There’s even a hint of that earthy, almost dark chocolate complexity that you get from excellent Pinot Noir that really surprised me, and the gently spiced finish kept me reaching for another sip.

This was a real treat for the senses – packed full of character, but also refined and elegant throughout. This is a must-try.

Black Chalk Wild Rose 2018

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

Following on from my review of Black Chalk’s latest Classic 2017 last month, this month I’ve selected their latest Wild Rose, made from the ripe and ready 2018 vintage.

This wine’s pale complexion continues to be both its calling card and its subtle cloak. The pale peach skin hue sums up this wine nicely: pretty, perfumed and hugely inviting. There are aromas of cranberry, raspberry and wild strawberry, with a hint of lemon, orange zest and that signature cherry blossom note.

The palate continues that trend – more tangy cranberry and raspberry than strawberries and cream. That’s my pink preference. But the ripe 2018 vintage also brings a suggestion of peach and fleshy fruit, all the while underpinned by zippy citrus acidity and a chalky mineral note.

Overall, this is an incredibly elegant rosé that will continue to win over anyone that tastes it.

Balfour Brut Rosé 2017

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

As one of the pioneering English sparkling rosés, it’s great to see Balfour Brut Rosé return to its peak. That’s not to say that former vintages have been substandard – I just felt they might have slightly lost the edge over some of the other top rosés out there. With the 2017 vintage, Balfour are back on their A-game.

As a red grape-dominant blend of 54% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay and 13% Pinot Meunier, the 2017 has delicate salmon hues and a nose fragrant with raspberries, cranberries and strawberries, all seasoned with pastry and a honeyed complexity.

To taste, crisp citrus, grapefruit and tangy cranberries greet you and soften to ripe strawberries, white peach and a creamy, rounded honeyed fruit.

This rosé straddles the perfect balance of brisk, crisp freshness and deeper honeyed notes. As such, it’s superbly structured and highly recommended.

Mereworth Rosé 2019

Grapes: Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier
Region: Kent

Mereworth is a brand new producer from Kent, and their new Rosé 2019, a blend of 96% Pinot Noir and 4% Pinot Meunier, is part of a duo of new releases. The wine has spent around a year on lees, and so has an expression that leans towards fruit-forward.

The nose is really appealing, with aromas of cranberry, cherry and raspberry, hints of honeyed peach and also citrus.

Taste-wise, this rosé has lavish flavours of summer red berries. For such a young release (this is quite possibly the first 2019 sparkling I’ve tasted), it’s already very approachable, with ripe cherry and strawberry as well as honeyed stone fruit.

This is a very playful and surprisingly deep rosé with vinous charms that are sure to be crowd-pleasing in the sun.

Wiston Rosé Non-Vintage

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

Of all the wines in the Wiston range this is probably the one I have spent the least time with, so it was great to sit down and get accustomed to it during a full Wiston range tasting.

This wine is perhaps the most different from its vintage counterpart, beginning with its pinker confident hue and fresher nose of raspberry, cherry, cranberry and lemon zest.

To taste, this wine melds together both soft, ripe summer berries of strawberry and raspberries with brisk citrus, tangy cranberry and rhubarb flavours.

Perhaps the most easy-drinking of the Wiston range, this is sure to please and will be a delight to drink outdoors in the warmer months.

Yotes Court Best Turned Out Pinot Meunier 2020

Grapes: Pinot Meunier
Region: Kent

It’s not often that you get to taste Pinot Meunier in isolation, and even less frequently as a single variety in a still rosé. But that’s what Yotes Court have done with their inaugural pink release, and it’s absolutely delicious!

The nose is a mixture of pink grapefruit and lemon zest, with fragrant cranberry and raspberry aromas as well as light herbaceous notes. There are also hints of jasmine and pear drops.

The crisp, brisk acidity and zingy grapefruit flavours are incredibly lively and refreshing – this rosé is certainly out to grab your attention. Riper flavours of strawberry and raspberry continue, again with some floral hints, followed by a lingering citrus finish.

This is a very accomplished and clean first release.

Gusbourne Pinot Noir Rosé 2020

Grapes: Pinot Noir
Region: Kent

This rosé looks the part, both in and out of the bottle, with Gusbourne’s signature modern labels and a vibrant pink-hued wine. This latest 2020 release, made from 100% Pinot Noir, is a stand-out and the Kent producer’s best still rosé yet.

It’s aromatically invigorating with the expected red fruit-forward aromas of cherry and strawberry, with a refreshing citrus and watermelon twist.

Flavour-wise, there are big bursts of lemon and pink grapefruit, with bags of tangy cranberry, raspberry and cherry flavours. There’s a nice depth, too, with softer red fruit that leads to a crisp, zesty finish.

It’s both incredibly vibrant and also eminently drinkable in the sun.

Simpsons Railway Hill Rosé 2020

Grapes: Pinot Noir
Region: Kent

Is this England’s most glamorous rosé? From the sleek bottle to the distinctive Vinolok glass stopper, three vintages in and Railway Hill Rosé is tasting better than ever.

The Railway Hill Rosé 2020 is made from 100% Pinot Noir and has an open, fragrant nose of pink grapefruit, raspberry and wild strawberry with a hint of lingering spice in the background.

A tingling, zingy and vibrant bite leads to softer, creamy waves of summer red berries. There’s also a lengthy, textured and mineral finish, with citrus peel and mineral notes.

My only question is: why are there no magnums of this 2020 release?

Albury Organic Silent Pool Rosé 2020

Grapes: Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier
Region: Surrey

The first thing you notice about the Silent Pool 2020 is its colour. This vintage is noticeable pinker than previous years, all the while retaining its elegance. It’s a blend of 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Pinot Meunier, and the wine’s more concentrated colour and flavour profile come from the 2020 vintage being a ripe but lower-yield vintage for Albury.

The super fresh and focussed nose has a citrus fusion of grapefruit, lemon and orange skin, and the classic summer berry notes of raspberry and cherry. There’s also a light herbaceous suggestion and a hint of cherry blossom.

I tasted this just a week after bottling, and it’s already open and hugely expressive. The burst of zesty pink grapefruit and tangy cranberry is what Silent Pool Rosé is all about. But the ripe fruit of 2020 manifests in a fuller cherry and strawberry weight. There’s a great length to it too, with a zesty citrus encore and perhaps even a mineral suggestion.

This is exactly what you need to be drinking in the sunshine as we start to get out and about and socialise more.

Posted in Monthly Round-Up.

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