I think we like rosé more than some us in the UK dare admit. According to official figures from the IWSR, it accounted for 12% of all wine sales across Britain in 2011. Perhaps it would be higher still if it wasn’t for its feminine image. After all, when did you last see a group of men clinking glasses over a bottle of the pink stuff down at your local watering hole?
The big Californian brands are undoubtedly taking a healthy slice of that 12%. And even if I tend to avoid them myself, I can understand their appeal. They’re inexpensive, but easy to drink and refreshing. The grapes you’re most likely to see (if the bottle names them) are zinfandel and grenache. And the Californian Central Valley seems to have a knack for using them to make credible, but readily affordable, rosé.
My Chilean rosé had been sat in the fridge for quite some time – there are very few things that make me choose a glass of rosé over white or red. The point where I’d forgotten why I bought this wine had long since passed. The grape was probably a factor though, simply because it wasn’t one of those two usual suspects. Anyway, the combination of a warm, sunny day and a barbecue finally gave the bottle its turn in the limelight.
I now spotted that the grapes had come from the Colchagua valley. This was a promising sign – Colchagua has an established reputation for producing quality cabernet sauvignon wines. At least it does for reds anyway, rosé may be another matter.
The tasting notes, brief as ever with Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference range, told me to expect red berries. Nothing unusual there – exactly what you would expect with the majority of rosé.
Once again, I found myself strongly disagreeing with Sainsbury’s about what their wines taste of (see my review of their Pinotage). Unlike the Côtes du Rhône and the Rioja reserva I’ve reviewed, the flavour of this stuff bear no resemblance to strawberries or raspberries. Or to anything else that you could describe as a ‘red berry’.
Assuming hayfever hadn’t completely ruined my palate, the predominant flavour is closer to melon than to any other fruit. If you taste carefully, you might also get the tiniest suggestions of pineapple or banana, but they really are subtle at best.
A good buy then, once you know what you’re getting? I found this wine was only pleasant to drink whilst well chilled. As soon as it began warming up slightly, I found the fruit harder to detect, but the acid seem to become more pronounced, and it had nothing to balance it.
Verdict – if you like your cheap rosé, stick to the Californians rather than buying this.