Drinks: Sparkling, Wines
Location: Europe, France, Italy

Sparkling Rose
A poorly performing category in previous SWAs, this year sparkling rosé managed to provide a string of good examples across all the price points

Rosé fizz has often been a pretty depressing category, with tasters bemoaning not just the prices (which everyone knows are usually on the steep side) but also the quality. So this year’s performance came as something of a pleasant surprise.

Not only were the wines not bad at all, there were even a few pretty decent value-for-money options. ‘In fact, I’d argue that [the Duval-Leroy]for £30 was stunning value,’ said an impressed Mark Deamer, Marylebone Hotel.

In the end, however, it was narrowly squeezed out of a Gold medal by the Lallier which, at just over half the price, massively over-performed and was universally felt to be something of a find. While, if you’re looking for something pink, fizzy, and ludicrously good value for money, the Bouvet Ladubay Saumur should be on everyone’s radar.

Interestingly, tasters were pretty much unanimous right the way down the line here. The ‘star pupil’ bottles stood out – and so did the ASBO candidates. As a result, there was little debate about stylistic variations; a wine was either good or not, with common faults being either blandness or confection.

‘The reason why wines were rejected here wasn’t really a question of stylistic preference. They were usually just technically wrong,’ said Tom Forrest.

Perhaps surprisingly, given that there were some good wines to choose from, there were no top-end wines picked for the final Gold List. The tasters were aware of the commercial advantages to having some pricey pink fizz on the list but felt in the end, as Oxo Tower’s Senthil Kulandhaisamy put it, ‘there was nothing at all wrong with the more expensive wines, it’s just they just didn’t fit into any particular “easy-sell” commercial brackets.’

Given a larger list, in other words, there would probably have been at least one pricier, indulgent Gold making the trek up from Silver.

“People are always looking for value for money, so [the Bouvet Ladubay]is a real bargain. ”
Senthil Kulandhaisamy, Oxo Tower Restaurant


Bouvet Ladubay Brut Rose Excellence NV, Saumur, Loire, France
£7.18 @ Cavendish Wines
SWA 2011 Gold List Pale salmon in colour with floral and bready aromas, the subtle, fresh red fruit character follows on to the palate. Crisp and refreshing with a lemon citrus finish and a hint of pastry. ‘Creamy mousse and good acidity,’ said Angus Macnab.

Champagne Lallier Premier Cru Brut Rose NV, Champagne, France
£16.96 @ Boutinot
Light brioche and sherbet nose with creamy, biscuity autolytic notes on the nose, this is the colour of blushed apricots with lovely peach and redcurrant fruits, and good acidity. ‘The palate has layers of tasty brioche character and a long finish,’ said Senthil Kulandhaisamy. 


Edouard Brun Brut Rose NV, Champagne, France
£21.88 @ Walker & Wodehouse Wines
Blushed pink in colour, the complex nose sports Turkish delight, pear and strawberries. ‘Quite lean and mineral on the palate with seamless fruit from start to finish,’ said Mark Deamer.

Duval-Leroy Rose Brut NV, Champagne, France
£29.97 @ Wine Studio
Pale rose in colour, this has lightly packed brioche and fresh fruit character on the nose. Medium-bodied with yeasty notes, this has a fresh finish. ‘Try with veal,’ suggested Joris Beijn, Andaz.


Follador Cuvee Rose Brut Millesimato 2009, Veneto, Italy
£8 @ Follador UK
An appealing nose, ‘like a fresh sea breeze’, said Mark Deamer. The aromas of strawberry fruit and pear follow through to a dry palate, with nice acidity on a citrus finish.

Fantinel Rose Brut NV, North-East Italy
£9.18 @ Matthew Clark
Delicate red fruit nose with a soft, velvety stream of smooth bubbles and a good, dry style. ‘Plenty of citrus flavours provide real enjoyment for the palate,’ said Joris Beijn.

Taittinger Brut Prestige Rose NV, Champagne, France
£28.13 @ Hatch Mansfield
With a pale salmon colour and small bubbles, this has hints of yeast and red fruits on both nose and palate. The judges felt this was good quality that had the characteristics of a low-dosage cuvée.

D de Devaux Le Rose NV, Champagne, France
£33.11 @ Liberty Wines
With a light rose colour and a very subtle nose, the palate has plenty of summer fruits, ‘raspberries first and then strawberries’, said Senthil Kulandhaisamy. With an undertone of savoury notes.

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