More than just a Bikini Wine

More than just a Bikini Wine

10th Jul 2013

James Lawrence charts the growing popularity of the pink stuff

Nothing defines summer drinking like a chilled glass of rose from say Provence, or maybe the Loire Valley. The category, once relegated to what my friend always dismissed as a 'bikini wine,' is seriously popular at the moment and shows no signs of abating. Passe has suddenly become tres chic, at the delight of French producers who make about a third of the total amount of rose produced each year.

So what is simply a red wine that incorporates a small amount of colour from the grape skins through a quick maceration has become all the rage. And well it should, for at its best rose is a delicious wine style: offering summer fruits, a bright acidity and wonderfully refreshing quality. For this resurgence, we should partially thank Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who in a partnership with Château Miraval in Provence released a 'Brangelina' Château Miraval Rosé in June at £18.95 a bottle. Too expensive for rose you may think? Not for the UK's consumers, who purchased 6,000 bottles within 5 hours of the wine being released. 

 Some years earlier, Sacha Lichine, son of Russian entrepreneur    
 turned Bordeaux star Alexis Lichine started marketing a super -
 expensive rose called Garrus at £76.00. Slightly ridiculously 
 priced of course, but he has done much to promote the category. 
 His cheaper label Chateau D'Esclans retails at a more reasonable 
 £18.95 and is excellent – all soft red fruits and 
 mango/passionfruit on the palate.

 But considering the recent hype surrounding these premium, 
 celebrity rose wines, the stuff is very simple to make. There are 
 two main ways to produce rose:

 1. You can make a good rose by subjecting the wine to a light 
 maceration, which is the period of time when the grape juice is in 
 contact with the skins. All the colour is imparted from the red 
 grape skins, as most grape juice is clear to start with. The red 
 grapes are crushed – Pinot Noir and Cabernet France can make 
 excellent rose wines – and the skins remain in contact with the 
 juice for a short period, usually about 2-3 days depending on the 
 depth of colour you want to attain. This juice is then pressed and 
 fermented with-out any skin contact, leading to a rose wine;

 2. Or, the winemaker can use the classic French Saignée –   
 meaning bleeding – method to make a rose style. This works 
 simply by 'bleeding' the wine tanks and removing some of wine 
 juice early on in the fermentation process. The remaining must 
 in the tank is richer as a result and the removed juice can be 
 fermented separately to make a light rose.

As this gorgeous weather is set to continue, I have selected my 3 favourite rose wines for divine pleasure:

2012 Luis Felipe Edwards Mountain View Rose

RRP: £6.99

Where to buy:é+Wine/product-is-08184

The perfect accompaniment to summer salads and picnics, this supple, light rose is packed with red berry aromas and flavours, balanced by a keen acidity. It's low price makes it all the more attractive!

2012 Château Pigoudet 'La Chapelle' Rose

RRP: £9.99

Where to buy:é+Wine/product-is-08142

One of the best value roses I have come across, the 2012 Château Pigoude is an amazing effort from this renowned producer in Provence. It seduces you with it's light, delicate aromas of rose petal, apple and red cherry. Fresh, elegant and delicious, one bottle of this fabulous rose will never be enough!

2012 Chateau D'Esclans Rose

RRP: £18.95

Where to buy:

Sacha Lichine's superstar rose isn't cheap but it's undoubtedly one of the finest in its class from the beautiful Cotes De Provence region. An singular blend of Grenache and Italy's Vermentino, the wine benefits form a period of oak-aging which adds considerable complexity and texture to an already delicious and fragrant wine. Expect red fruits, almonds, vanilla and creaminess by the bucket load

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