Sommelier Wine Awards 2009: Rose

A hot category with the customers, rosé continued to attract a good number of entries. However, this seems still to be a category that has a fair bit of work to do to realise its potential

We saw a big jump in rosé entries last year, and that continued this year, with wine producers all over the world (entries were evenly split between Europe and the New World) clearly keen to tap into the consumer love of all things pink.

Of course, it would help if most of the wines were better in the first place.

Paradoxically, while the wines were pretty inconsistent, there was a definite move towards what could probably be called ‘Big Colour, Big Fruit’. It was a style that generally found little favour with the sommeliers, though the Gold Listed Delheim was very definitely in this mould – it just did it better than most of the others.

‘I would complement (the Delheim) with a really good dish of scallops, lemongrass and ginger,’ said Michael Moore of the eponymous restaurant. Certainly, its sweet-fruited spicy palate offers some interesting possibilities.

Although this category did throw up a Gold List wine this year (unlike in 2008), consultant Peter McCombie MW summed up the general feeling of frustration. ‘People think if it’s pink, customers will buy it. But the best wines are proper wines in their own right – they just happen to be pink.’

Certainly, it was good to see a couple of decent southern French wines making the shortlist, both more restrained and food-friendly. These are the sorts of wines that might perform better with (traditional) food than in a blind line-up.

‘When this market is so into rosé, why are people struggling so much to read between the lines and give people what they want?’ said an exasperated Mike Harrison of WW Harrison.

There’s still a lot of educational work to do with rosé. Some customers still order rosé wine because they think it’s going to be sweet. Louise Gordon, The Westbury


Delheim Pinotage Rose 2008, Delheim, Simonsberg, Stellenbosch, South Africa
£6.70 @ Jackson Nugent Vintners Ltd
Medium, salmon colour with pretty floral and raspberry notes, with a hint of pepper. Subtle, floral spices on the palate with a hint of sweetness. A little sweet and bubblegummy, yes, but also a crowd pleaser.


Le Canon du Marechal Syrah Merlot Rose 2008, Cazes, Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes, France
£5.80 @ Waverley TBS
Sweet peach and apricot nose, with ripe red apples. Clean and fresh, it nonetheless has good food potential. ‘Might work with beef or lamb,’ mused Michael Moore.

Robert Skalli Cotes de Provence rose 2007, France

£5.81 @ Wine Studio
Pale oeil de perdrix colour, and an equally subtle and delicate wine. An ambitious style, with some weight and concentration and a proper backbone.

Editorial feature from the Sommelier Wine Awards 2009.

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