PINK WINE USED TO BE SEEN AS QUITE NAFF – OR UNCOOL. QUITE THE OPPOSITE NOWADAYS. WITH LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL SALES CONTINUING AN UPWARD TRAJECTORY, IT’S ROSÉ ALL THE WAY, BABY!
Tasting Panel: Dr Winnie Bowman CWM, Guy McDonald, Clifford Roberts, Sam Robertson,
I’m a little embarrassed,” said Magic 828 radio presenter Guy McDonald at the end of the tasting. “I used to mock my neighbour, a German chap, for drinking rosé … I think I owe him an apology!”
That off-the-cuff remark pretty much summed up most people’s thoughts (prejudice?) about pink wine. Times have changed and with them, both the quality and diversity of rosé wines … and so should all our attitudes towards what has become a really good category. Gone are the days when the shelf of TOPS at SPAR had rosé which were deep pink in colour and sweet. A few examples still exist but as a general rule most wine producers tend towards making their rosé lighter in colour and dry, very often bone dry. The thinking being that these are meant to be enjoyed with food so they should be light, bright, tangy with acidity and crisply refreshing.
On that point, the last wine in the line-up has really thrown down a marker. It’s from Pink Valley, a winery in Stellenbosch which is still new, having only opened its restaurant and cellar doors to the drinking public last year. It’s French owned (by the Oddo family) and they make just one wine – a serious rosé. Winemaker Schalk-Willem Joubert says the concept is to offer a quality, premium product that is classic and elegant while maintaining rosé’s image as a fashionable,
(An interesting aside is that the label image is from one of South African artist Walter Batiss’ work – and there are four separate colour variations. Attention to fine detail deserves respect.) The fact that it’s a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Sangiovese automatically sets it apart. But that’s something which was true of all the wines in the tasting. None of them were humdrum or everyday. It was obvious that all had some thought put into their winemaking – both in terms of the grapes chosen and the techniques.
DeMorgenzon, for example, is a very smart selection of seven different grapes, both white and red. (If any wine geeks are interested they are Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Grenache Blanc,
Roussanne, Viognier and even Durif.) Waterkloof’s Circumstance Cape Coral is made from Mourvèdre, a very popular grape in Spain and Portugal because it handles hot conditions well. Waterkloof is a biodynamic operation so everything is kept as natural as possible – even down to using Percheron horses to disc between the vineyard rows rather than tractors! It was fermented spontaneously (code for “not inoculated with yeast from a packet”) and spent five months on the lees in old wooden vats.
The False Bay Whole Bunch Cinsault Mourvèdre is also in the Waterkloof stable – but it’s made from bought-in grapes. As cellarmaster Nadia Langenegger says, this wine is no afterthought
or just cobbled together from leftover red or white wine. It’s a serious wine which just happens to be pink … The vineyards are low yielding in the Coastal Region and then given serious treatment: basket pressing and made with intent.
Spier’s blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is a nod to classic Champagne because those are the grapes used traditionally. Diemersdal’s wine speaks strongly of its maker’s passion for
Sauvignon Blanc, literally having a splash (7%) of Cabernet Sauvignon blended in to make it pink.
JORDAN CHAMELEON ROSÉ 2020: Rose petal perfume, touch of sweet candyfloss, said both Winnie and Guy. Juicy berry flavour in the mouth; light and refreshing with a good tanginess was Fiona’s opinion.
SPIER CHARDONNAY PINOT NOIR ROSÉ 2020: “Spicy with squashed berries,” said Clifford while Guy was reminded of fallen orchard fruits. Strawberry, pear and raspberry flavour with good acidity. Fun but not frivolous, it’ll be a good food companion.
DIEMERSDAL SAUVIGNON ROSÉ 2020: “No mistaking the Sauvignon in this,” said Fiona. Distinctive grapefruit and lemon zest while Guy and Clifford picked up fynbos and asparagus. The mouth was delightfully succulent, fresh and vibrant. “One of the most distinctive wines in the line-up,” said Clifford.
KWV ROODEBERG ROSÉ 2020: The colour of this received enthusiastic comments. Delicate soft berried nose which translated onto the palate. Juicy and succulent with lots of red fruit – and a touch of nectarine too. Very appealing and the length of flavour was noted by Clifford and Winnie.
STEENBERG RUBY ROSÉ 2020: “Cranberry and powdery red fruit, also with a touch of fynbos on both the nose and palate”, Winnie commented. Clifford noted that it was less full-bodied than some of the others, and slightly drier. “I’d drink a lot of this because of that dryness,” he said.
PANEL CHOICE – FALSE BAY WHOLE BUNCH CINSAULT MOURVÈDRE ROSÉ 2020: This wine really stood out because of its cheerfulness and fun bright berry exuberance – but that was balanced by a genuine mouth feel and texture. “And a sprinkling of spice over those berries,” said Winnie. “I get a faint salinity or seaweed note,” said Clifford. Sam echoed his appreciation for the savoury nature of the wine. Fiona liked the leesy breadth and fullness.
MULDERBOSCH CABERNET SAUVIGNON ROSÉ 2020: “Spicy with candyfloss and sherbet notes on the nose and palate,” Guy found. Succulent with the cassis and black berry notes typical of Cabernet Sauvignon. Light but savoury.
L’AVENIR ROSÉ DE PINOTAGE 2020: That abundant berry compote, blue berry and raspberry brightness come through aromatically as well as on the palate. Juicy but with good concentration, body and length. Very flavourful and approachable too.
PINK VALLEY ROSÉ 2019: Fiona found a chalky minerality to this wine. Drier than many of the others in the line-up as well as less obviously fruity. But it has a good length of flavour in that it lingers with a gentle plum note.
CREATION ROSÉ 2020: “A complex wine,” Clifford said. Understated and elegant. Floral perfume with stone fruit and nectarine offering bright acidity with fresh vibrancy. Plum and quince flavours too. “Strawberries and cream!” said Guy.
PANEL CHOICE – WATERKLOOF CAPE CORAL MOURVÈDRE ROSÉ 2020 Subtle coral colour. Fiona noted rhubarb, black cherry and spice aromas while the palate was notably serious with those fruits replicated. Gently ripe but with good acidity and freshness. Winnie loved the structure while Guy found it almost bold but appealing.
ED’S CHOICE – DEMORGENZON GARDEN VINEYARD ROSÉ 2019 Another complex and serious example, the panel found. Gentle cranberry, plum and even a hint of earthiness. Touch of fynbos, said Winnie. Palate was structured, with body and concentration, but lovely acidity balancing the berry fruit flavours. Powering on even though it’s a year older than all other wines in the line-up, bar the Pink Valley.