The colour of rosé

(C) 2008 Steve CukrovModern Australian rosé is a pinkish-red colored wine with a taste palate blending strawberry, blackberry, cherry and raspberry characters.   The style has a reputation for insipid, flavorless wines, marred by excessive  sugar or alcohol. 

But the best of the current offerings are dry to semi-dry, balanced with an acidity and fruit character that makes them a luxurious pleasure to drink

The colour of rosé range from a pale orange to a vivid near-purple, depending on the grapes, additives and wine making techniques. For the paler rosé wines, grapes are pressed as soon as they arrive at the winery, with the juice left only a few hours in contact with the skin. Their colours are sometimes described as as ‘grey’ (Gris de Bourgogne, Rose de Loire or Oeil de Perdrix).

By comparison with Europe, Australian rosé wines have a more limited colour palette.  While a delicate hint of apricot is acceptable, anything further will likely be penalised by the wine show judges.  Consumers have little opportunity to experiment beyond pink-red. 

We recently conducted a round-table tasting on the characteristics of several best-selling Western Australian and eastern States rosé wines.  The experience was eye-opening, reflecting the variety of grape varieties and wine-making styles employed.  Not all wines met with approval, reflecting the panel’s taste for less sweet wines. 

Two 2008 wines equal topped the panel’s list, both Western Australian: the West Cape Howe (Denmark) and the Treeton Estate Veronica.  Both wines are well balanced, sparkling clear and ranging in color from brilliant pink to a pale red almost reminiscent of the paler clarets, filling the mouth with delicious berry fruit and cherry. 

With a very light chill (not too cold), these wines pair perfectly with salmon, fish, chicken, asian-style food, turkey, or with a subtle cheese such as emmental. Or to enjoy on their own on a relaxing afternoon.

John Simmonds