Time for roses and rosés in glorious sunshine: Richard Esling June 2

What fabulous weather we’ve been enjoying in Sussex for almost the entire time of lockdown so far. As everyone I talk to agrees, its certainly helped.

Southern French rose 2019 SUS-200106-142920001
Southern French rose 2019 SUS-200106-142920001

With extra time on our hands for most of us, our gardens have never looked so beautiful, with every weed eradicated with vigour and determination. A boost for morale and perfect growing conditions (provided you’ve had the watering can out) for our flowering shrubs, above all roses. Certainly, the roses in our garden in Arundel have never looked better.

Sunny warm weather, apart from being good for plants, is also perfect for enjoying a cool glass of rosé on the terrace, either on its own or as an accompaniment to a summery meal or barbecue. Condemned in the past as being neither one thing nor the other, in terms of red and white, pink wine is now one of the fastest growing categories in both still and sparkling wines. Ever popular in France, where it is drunk all year round as opposed to just the summer months, rosé is the warm weather wine ‘par excellence’ and sales in the UK are growing year on year. Pale coloured rosé is not only very attractive, but difficult to achieve, needing the skills of a good winemaker. And good winemakers make good wine, with attention to appearance, aroma and depth of flavour. In France, all rosé (apart from pink champagne) is made only from red grapes. The delicate colour is achieved from leaving the skins of the grapes in contact with the pressed juice for a very limited amount of time, sometimes a matter of minutes. Vinification then takes place as though it were a white wine, with care and at low temperature to preserve the delicate flavours and aromas.

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For me, pale dry rosé from the South of France epitomises summer and brings back a flood of memories of holidays basking in the Mediterranean sunshine. Whilst that is still not possible at the moment, we can sip a glass of French rosé whilst basking in our own Sussex sunshine. The Wine Society, now back open again for both orders and new membership, has a great selection of French rosé from the 2019 vintage, thus crisp and fresh. The following selection of six wines are all pale in colour and from last year’s harvest.

Duo des Plages is made from Cinsault and Grenache grape varieties in the Languedoc region. Refreshingly fruity, dry, quaffable, and great value at only £6.95 a bottle, with surprising depth of flavour at this price.

Domaine les Mesclances is another Mediterranean regional wine, with a little of the local tibouren grape variety in the mix. Very aromatic, with hints of Mediterranean herbs and flowers.

Also, from the Languedoc, but this time from Corbières, comes Chateau Ollieux Romanis. Very naturally made wine from an organic vineyard, it is mouth-watering and delicate, yet full flavoured, with hints of wild herbs. £10.95 a bottle.

Chateau Vignelaure Coteaux d’Aix en Provence is full-flavoured, savoury and refreshing, from one of the top Provence estates, with weight enough to accompany many dishes.

Chateau Galoupet is located on the coast overlooking the Isles d’Hyères and is classified as a Cru Classé. Full-bodied and dry, with great complexity. Outstanding, with great length. Both of these at £13.50 a bottle.

And the last of my selection of six comes from the island of Corsica – The Society’s Corsican Rosé at £10.50 and one of my favourites. Fabulously well-made, dry, crisp, flavoursome, satisfying and refreshing.