I’ve long been a fan of English Rosé in all its forms, as is evident from an array of pink-themed articles over the past few years, including themed round-ups, Valentine’s specials and summer rosé specials. So, with springtime finally here, I turned my full attention to rosé wines this month. This article is the first of two round-ups, focussing on still rosé, with a second part looking at sparkling wines coming later this week.
April and May is usually the time when a lot of rosé wines get launched in England, and so my approach here is to go with a selection of just-released or about-to-be-released wines from the very promising 2022 vintage. The aim was to get a cross-section of the best of English still rosés, looking at both established names and some newcomers to rosé.
Interestingly, the wine that came out top of my tasting was a first-time rosé release from Oastbrook. Their Pinot Noir Rosé 2022 (£21) impressed with its sheer exuberance and red fruit concentration, coupled with crisp, clean acidity. One of my firm-favourite rosés is Albury Organic’s Silent Pool Rosé, and their 2022 vintage (£19.99) stood out once again with its zingy grapefruit, cherry and cherry blossom tones.
On the more delicate side of rosé, Black Chalk’s ‘Dancer In Pink’ 2022 (£22) surprises with its uniquely vinous body and soft, slender raspberry and strawberry flavours. Perhaps taking a page from the Provence playbook, Gusbourne’s English Rosé 2022 (£25) sports an alluring new look with its crystal bottle, and the wine has a playful, spritzy acidity coupled with delicate red fruit flavours. It’s a slight stylistic departure from previous vintages, but the bottle will surely turn heads. Finally, Hattingley’s Rosé 2022 (£19.00) brings an air of elegance and subtlety that again doesn’t feel far from Provence in style.
Oastbrook Pinot Noir Rosé Reserve 2022
• STILL WINE OF THE MONTH •
Grapes: Pinot Noir
This is the first still rosé from Oastbrook, and is made from 100% Pinot Noir that was harvested in early October, then whole bunch pressed. The result is the saignée from their Pinot Noir and makes for a very characterful rosé.
Matching the wine’s wonderful pink cherry hue, the Oastbrook has perhaps the most classic and open nose of the selection here, with wonderful aromas of cherry, raspberry and perhaps even a hint of black fruit.
The palate matches the fruit-forward nose, with a sea of cherry, strawberry and raspberry richness. There’s a slight creamy richness to the mid-taste, and a hint of tannin on the finish.
This is a full-flavoured rosé that means business, and it was my top wine of the still selection this month.
Albury Organic Silent Pool Rosé 2022
Grapes: Pinot Meunier & Pinot Noir
This firm favourite in our household comes from one of my most local vineyards, Albury Organic here in Surrey. As with previous vintages, this is a blend of Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, and it was another of this month’s highlights.
On the nose, aromas of raspberry, pink grapefruit, cranberry and cherry blossom combine classic Pinot red fruit with spring floral freshness.
The Silent Pool has a fresh, zingy character that is incredibly bright, bursting with youthful red fruit flavours and the cut-through of pink grapefruit, before riper summer berries take hold.
The finish is long and lingering, with hints of white pepper, floral character and citrus zest – another superb vintage of this local classic.
Gutter & Stars ‘Rage Against the Dying of the Light’ Rosé 2022
Grapes: Bacchus & Pinot Noir
This is an unusual blend of Bacchus and Pinot Noir, made with Bacchus grown at Yew Tree Vineyard in Oxfordshire and Pinot Noir from Brenley Farm in Kent.
The Bacchus was fermented in neutral oak and blended with 10% Pinot Noir to achieve a bold and characterful expression, with the blend fermentation further aged for five months in oak.
Something of an outlier stylistically both in concept and in character, this is the deepest hued rosé of the selection, coupled with a vibrant nose of juicy strawberry, pear drop, watermelon and hints of floral and spice.
Similarly diverse on the palate, this leads with a fusion of ripe strawberry, lime and fleshy melon. There’s a richness to the red fruit here, which contrasts with the zesty, grassy and floral character of Bacchus. While fruit-forward, this has got a certain structure and complexity that continues to make it stand out.
Black Chalk ‘Dancer in Pink’ Rosé 2022
Grapes: Pinot Noir, Pinot Précoce & Pinot Gris
Made from a trio of Pinots in Pinot Noir, Pinot Précoce and Pinot Gris (5%), the latest vintage from Black Chalk impresses with its textural weight.
On the nose, the ‘Dancer in Pink’ has aromas of cherry, cranberry and peach skin with a light herbal hint.
While described as a playful, summer-sipper style of wine, this vintage demonstrates a complex, textured, grippy texture in addition to all the summer berry ripeness that the 2022 vintage brings. There’s also a hint of blood orange on the finish.
I really enjoyed the textures on this wine, and found it a nice evolution in style compared to previous vintages from winemakers Jacob Leadley and Zoë Driver.
Gusbourne English Rosé 2022
Grapes: Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier
Gusbourne’s incredibly successful rosé sports a new look with the 2022 vintage. Perhaps borrowing from the glamorous profile of Provence, this crystalline bottle holds a blend of Pinot Noir and a splash of Pinot Meunier, and is a punchy little number.
On the nose, this delicately coloured rosé is full of raspberry, wild strawberry and lemon aromas, with hints of watermelon and zesty fruits.
The Gusbourne has an excitable acidity – almost spritzy and tongue-tingling with zesty citrus fruit upfront and maybe even a hint of tropical passion fruit.
I found this a little less full-bodied than the fruit-forward previous vintages from Gusbourne, with the 2022 focusing on the fresh, crisp citrus and tangy redcurrant.
Hattingley Still Rosé 2022
Grapes: Pinot Noir Précoce & Pinot Noir
Hattingley explained that the long and warm growing season in 2022 saw more than double the average sunshine hours, surprisingly hot days and no rain. The Still Rosé 2022 was made with a slow, gentle press after a short maceration to extract the wine’s delicate colour before stainless steel fermentation and light filtration.
The Hattingley is fragrant and full of springtime freshness, with lemon, cranberry and floral notes.
To taste, there are bright, crisp flavours with a lean citrus and cranberry bite. This retains a fresh, fragrant profile throughout but develops a creaminess as it warms, as well as melon and strawberry flavours.
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