Everything's coming up rosé

Posted on: 08 April 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Luscious wines for Valentine's Day romance from our resident expert.

Well as January turns to February, young, and not so young hearts, turn to thoughts of romance - well, least that's what my wife tells me!  So with February 14th looming, here is a run down on the best rosés around at the moment.

Rosés have experienced a real renaissance over the past few years, firstly at the hands of the 'blush' Zinfandels from California and latterly, as rather more serious dry wines. The result has been that rosés are getting better and better, and the prices as yet have remained keen. So, with your lobster in the pot, the lights dimmed and that James Blunt CD playing softly in the background - or Tom Waits in my case - here are a selection of wines that will make your special evening go swimmingly.

I have mentioned Muga's wines many times in the past. They are without question my favourite Rioja bodega, who make breathtaking wines across the colour spectrum. Their rosé (Waitrose, Majestic (in store only) and Everywine £6.99) is unlike their other wines in that it is pale, delicate and subtle.  Made from Garnacha by the more difficult method of letting the red grapes skins 'bleed' into the clear juice, it is medium bodied, refreshing and complex, with tones of watermelon, strawberry and raspberry.

Somewhat weightier is the French rosé, the Château Miraval (Everywine £8.89). This brilliant wine comes from the far south, the home of great French rosé, and has been designed to partner food.  It delivers tremendous quantities of ripe strawberries, cranberries and an intriguing note of nuts toward the end. Hefty enough to go brilliantly with gently cooked lamb, steak or salmon, it would also be lovely with some pre-dinner oysters.

Rosé fizz has come further than most rosés and there are now a range of wines that can offer you a taste of luxury without breaking the bank. In my opinion two of the best at the moment are the Lindauer (Majestic £5.99, Tesco (in store) £7.99) which is arguably New Zealand's finest value fizz, which is full of joyous notes of redcurrants and raspberries; and from Spain, Cordiniu Vintage Rosé Cava (Tesco special offer £4.74). Made by one of Spain's finest Cava producers, this is a wine that offers a classy glassful for not very much money.

Of course, it is only once a year and if you want to celebrate in style, then it has to be Champagne. Rosé Champagne can easily be the most depressing experience in wine. Time after time I've spent good and sometimes daft sums on wines whose colour promises much,  but whose flavour delivers little. Taittinger, Moet, Lanson, Bruno Paillard, the list goes on and on, so if you want my advice when buying rosé Champagne go for a specialist.

The best of these include Gosset (Four Walls £35) and Billecart Salmon (BBR £41.95), but if you want something that's somewhat easier to find then go for the Oudinot Rosé (Marks & Spencer £15.62).  Medium bodied, it's full of tangy raspberry fruit underlain by blackcurrants and yeast and makes for affordable indulgence.

Finally if you're thinking of popping the question, are celebrating a significant anniversary or just want to make a real splash, then how about cracking open the finest rosé I've ever tasted? It is of course the mighty Bollinger Rosé 1999 (BBR £120). This magnificent wine carries Bollinger's typical immense power, and assuages the palate with a jaw dropping weight of strawberries, citrus, blackcurrants and a delicious biscuity tone. Cheap it most certainly isn't, but then what price perfection?

I hope that your Valentine's Day goes with a bang!


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