There are few things which elicit the sense of summer more than rosé. It’s the drink of rooftop bars, barbeques, of dozy evenings in the garden and pub lunches. But the average consumer still has some strong preconceptions about it. The thing that stands out most to us? Our perception of ‘rosé’ has been colour washed.
Consumers are unlikely to ever think of colour as a factor when buying red or white wine – there are much more important things like flavour to think of! But having overheard clutches of journalists, buyers and marketing pros tell producers in no uncertain terms that rosé won’t sell in the UK unless it’s Provençal pink, we’re curious as to why rosé and, latterly, orange wine, is sold on the basis of shade, rather than taste?
The only acceptable rosé of recent years has been that pale pale pink one, watery-rimmed and as close to white as a drop of food colouring will allow. Our founder, Sarah Abbott MW, can even tell of one rosé competition she was invited to judge where her fellow judges rejected out of hand anything that wasn’t Provençal pale. These wines are fine and lovely, scented with grapefruit, herbs and stone fruit. They come, almost exclusively, from a region whose own PR hype is the geographic equivalent of the Kardashians. The Provençals say that they combine trend with tradition as in these sun-swept enclaves of Southern France, rosé is an end in itself. Grapes are grown specifically for this purpose, altering their treatment in both vineyard and winery.
But there’s so much more to rosé! It’s a richly nuanced category, including wines of structure and depth which cover a broad colour spectrum. Given Swirl’s work with Wines of Georgia particularly, we’re switched on to the brilliance of orange wine. It’s expanded our perception of what the ‘correct’ wine colour is, encouraging us to think far less rigidly about how wine styles are boxed with wine colours.
Saperavi Rosé from Georgia is a great example of this. Rare until only a few years ago, more and more is now being made. Saperavi is a richly pigmented grape, so its rosés are naturally deep in colour. But that didn’t stop the wine featured above from sparking real interest at this year’s London Wine Fair with many who tasted it praising its high acidity, gentle sweetness and vibrant fruitiness.
Just as consumer interest is returning to the obscure, traditional styles like Pet Nat in the sparking wine category, so are their taste buds ripe to be reintroduced to this style of ballsy, unapologetic rosé. Tavel has been beating this drum for years, gaining cult status among drinkers in the know. It showcases the notable trend of many regions of acute gastronomic interest, who often have a decidedly serious rosé tucked away which just so happens to perfectly compliment the local cuisine. Think Bandol’s ageworthy rosés, Rioja’s rosados and the Loire’s succulently pink Cabernet Francs.