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As we put another Australia Day long weekend behind us, David Pike offers his thoughts on refreshing rosé

 

THE Australia Day long weekend is inevitably a hot one, and what better way to counter the heat and cope with entertaining the troops and cooking the snaggers than a refreshing glass of rosé.

Rosé is enjoying something of a revival, but I can’t be sure if it’s consumers or producers who are driving the influx of the pink-strawberry-translucent red coloured rosé wines currently lining up on liquor store shelves around the country.

A look at the current line-up of the top 20 selling rosé wines in Australia makes it apparent that there is no defining style.

And anyone lucky enough to cruise the cafe strips of Provence and the Languedoc in southern France and order a glass of rosé can be assured of receiving a pink (salmon) coloured, relatively dry wine. 

In short, each time you order a glass – okay bottle of rosé  – you know what you will be getting.

My line-up of rosé wines reminded me of that infamous line in Forrest Gump, that ‘life is like a box of chocolates’. The only constant in my rosé selection was that none of the wines was white.

The variations in colour, sugar levels, fruit weight and acidity created of real mixture of styles loosely based on the rosé theme.

Rosé here in Australia seems to have taken on three different personalities. The first is the Nicole Kidman style – which is most similar to the European style. These wines have a rose petal pink or salmon colour and have quite herbal aromas that can show a wild strawberry note. On the palate these wines tend to be food wines, with expressive acidity, little fruit weight but clean and with subtle flavours and length.

Standing in the middle ground is the Steve Waugh style. These wines, for my mind, tend to be more of a cold red than a rosé. They are robust and deep red in colour. These wines can be spicy with cherry, raspberry and plum aromas that transcend across the palate. They are often balanced with sugar, but sometimes over-balanced, with more sugar than a wharfie’s cup of tea. These wines tend to be higher in alcohol and, in the better examples, can be quite drinkable.

The third style of rosé wines – the wet blanket style, as I call them – are those that are cocktail pink in colour and very sweet in style. They’re pretty much cocktail in taste, with sweet berry fruits and a simple structure. Best served with a cocktail umbrella or a slice of pineapple.

How do you make a rosé? Most will tend to crush any old red variety and leave it in contact with the skins for a short period of time. The time a winemaker chooses to leave the contact will depend on how pronounced they want the colour of the finished wine to be.

This time could range from a few hours through to a day or two. Within that time on skins, flavour and tannins are also extracted and each variety will release these attributes differently. The wine is then pressed off – into a stainless steel tank and fermented as you would white wine.

The other method of making rosé is through a process whereby you ‘run off’ juice from a batch. This style tends to produce wines that are much lighter in colour and flavour. The wine is then finished in the same way as you would a white wine. The benefit of this process is that it will concentrate the juice remaining in the batch.

Turkey Flat 2003 Rosé rrp $19 17.5/20

This wine showed a bright red hue and featured floral notes. A herbal character with mushrooms wafts in the background, producing an enticing nose.

The palate had bright fruit with balanced sweetness, good integration of acidity and persistence of fruit on the finish.

Angoves Nine Vines rrp $10 18/20

Remember buying those freezer ice creams when you were a kid? Well, this wine reminds me of that vibrant raspberry red colour. Brambles, raspberry and berry crush aromas are prominent.

The palate is refreshing with good acidity and balanced sugar. It is a vibrant wine with a note of CO2. It does finish just a tad short but you aren’t going to notice that at $10 … you’ll be too busy topping up your glass.

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