Some friends invited me to a garden supper a couple of weeks back, to listen to a nightingale sing. Rather than cool wines and salads, we sat huddled in blankets eating a piping hot lamb dish, washed down by a full-bodied red Burgundy. We finally gave up at 10pm. The nightingale stayed silent.
Hopefully we can now start to think more seriously about summer foods and summer wines, ditching the jeans and thick woolly jumpers for T-shirts and shorts, or at least someway between the two. Now is the time to start thinking of laying in stocks – or at least a bottle or two – of delicious, fresh, fruity rosés to accompany your salads and lighter summery fare.
Not that I believe that rosé should only be drunk in the summer months. Indeed, our friends in Europe where much of it is produced, are very happy to drink pink all year round, matching the wines carefully to different dishes. Here in the UK, we tend to associate rosé with warm, sunny days and evenings, perhaps bringing back memories of holidays in the south of France, watching the sun set over the Med.
One of the great regions for rosé production is Provence in the south of France. Made from grape varieties which are adapted to a warmer climate, such as Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan, with sometimes the addition of Syrah or other local varieties, the wines are fresh and fruity, with considerable depth of flavour and aromatics. Chateau Pas du Cerf Cotes de Provence 2020 has been in the Gualtieri family for eight generations since 1848 and is located in the Massif des Maures. Careful winemaking produces a delightful, clean, fruity, refreshing wine with a fashionably pale pink colour. Perfect on its own or with a chicken salad and crusty baguette. £10.95 from The Wine Society.
Mas de Romanin, Alpilles 2020 comes from an amazing estate near Les Baux de Provence, where the cellars are built into a cliff under a ruined castle. Lovely, light delicately flavoured, pale pink, mainly from Cinsault. £13.95 from The Wine Society. Going further south still, the island of Corsica produces an array of quite excellent rosés in an idyllic climate with scenery to match. Clos Alivu 2020 comes from the Patrimonio region of the island, high up in the rocky hills near Oletta. Modern winemaking combines with tradition and vines nearly 50 years old, to produce a gorgeous, full flavoured, pale pink in a fabulous bottle. The Wine Society £16.50.
Turning to a different area of France, also well known for its delicate, yet full-flavoured rosés, the Loire Valley has a wide range of pinks to offer. Joseph Mellot Sancerre Rosé 2019 is made by an estate with a 500-year history of winemaking in the mid-Loire valley, from perfectly ripe Pinot Noir grapes. With a slightly deeper, salmon colour, it is packed full of red summer berry flavours of strawberry, red cherry and redcurrant, with a perfect balance between acidity and fruit. £17.20 from Fountainhall Wines or Dulwich Vintners. Bring out the grilled garlic prawns!