by any other name
Gone are the days of sickly-sweet pink wines – today’s examples of rosé are nothing short of sophisticated. Yvonne Lorkin shares the evolution, culiminating in the country’s top 12 .
Way back when I was a nipper, there were only three pink wines people used to rave on about here in Godzone and they were pink Chardon, pink Marque Vue and Mateus Rosé. They were lolly-pink and super-sweet and apart from possibly causing more than a few impromptu table-dancing sessions at parties, they were dull as dishwater to drink. Some reluctant blokes most certainly steered clear and it seemed (for a couple of decades anyway) that rosé would likely remain “a European thing”.
Then about seven years ago, a sea change occurred and suddenly “serious” wineries began releasing rosé-style wines that followed a clean, dry, crisp and floral spectrum of flavours. The sweet, blousy styles began to take a back seat and a new wave of pink wines with international appeal began washing up on our wine shop shelves. Clearly winemakers had begun treating it as a serious style and not just an afterthought. Rosés became “purpose- built” and not just something knocked together from the leftovers.
Today, everywhere you look, people are drinking pink and the quality is exponentially more excellent than ever before. “The best wines of our tasting were textbook examples of what New Zealanders (and international aficionados of the style) find so appealing,” urges senior judge Jane Boyle. “This is a style that continues to grow in popularity and to impress with its evolution and focus on freshness, fabulous acidity and fruit purity. The term ‘thirst-quenching’ springs to mind.”
From the 85 entries (that we have at least 85 rosés currently available from New Zealand producers shows the strength of the style) almost 10 per cent were awarded gold-medal status. This is a very healthy statistic for any wine style in a competition. Seventy-five per cent of our top scorers were pinot noirdominant, the other 25 per cent were mostly merlot – so clearly it’s those two varieties that are creating the big guns.
Looking at the colour spectrum of entries on the table was also interesting for our judges. It’s clear that rosé is moving away from the cartoony-bright pink hue of old and into the more pale, subdued styles, even heading toward the palest of coral/apricot.
While the colour might be dialled down, the flavours are dialled up and into the spicy, crunchy-fresh and dry scale that also appeals to the drinker who may previously have been put off.
Packaging also has a part to play in attracting new fans to rosé. Many labels are more neutral and classic in their use of colour, font and styling, which men, in particular, may feel more comfortable having on their table. I’m not seeing so many bright, gawdy rosé labels of old around much anymore.
So the time is right to indulge in the new breed. “For me, rosé is best enjoyed over the warmer, summer months,” says Jane. “Personally, I consider rosé as a seasonal treat: much as I do asparagus and berries in summer. I like to indulge in it while the weather is at its peak and ideally served lightly chilled with picnic fare, at the beach or around the barbecue. I then go cold turkey for a few months and wait in eager anticipation for the next vintage. It’s not something I want yearround. Call me old-fashioned in that regard.” Jane may feel she’s old-fashioned, but these winning rosés are a modern wonder. From all of us at Dish, enjoy!