It’s that time of year when a young and older man’s thoughts turn to rosé.
Why a glimpse of the sun should increase the appetite for pink wines is a mystery. After all, Brits knock back chilled white wine regardless of the weather. But when it comes to rosé, it just seems inherently wrong to savour a glass on a bleak December day.
Maybe it is the association that rosé conjures with foreign holidays. Those of us of a 1960s vintage probably got our first glimpse of this exotic drink on the BBC’s equally exotic “Holiday” programme, fronted by Cliff Michelmore.
The sight of Cliff, cool, urbane, dressed in shorts and safari shirt, slurping a glass of rosé on the Costa Brava, set new heights of sophistication.
Rosé became the drink of the aspiring middle-classes who ditched their caravans in favour of a new concept called “the package holiday.”
So Cliff has a lot to answer for when it comes to our collective, seasonal yearning for a drop of pink, whether he knows it or not.
As luck would have it, there was a bottle from Spain among the trio I road-tested from The Wine Society.
The Rioja Rosado 2013 Muga (£8.50), from the Rioja Alta region, is a dry blend of grenache, viura and tempranillo.
The wine is fermented in small wooden vats to produce a very delicate rosé, crisp, acidic and best drunk after mowing the lawn to quench the thirst.
Wines are all about personal preference but I like a little more fruit in a pink wine.
For nearly two quid less than the Muga you can bag the terrific Terra D’Alter (£6.75), a steal from southern Portugal.
The wine is made in the Alentejo region by Australian winemaker Peter Bright by blending two red grape varieties: touring nacional and aragonez. There is a short contact with the skins before the wine is fermented at low temperature, sealing the fruitiness of the grapes.
There is a cleansing dryness at the back of the palate and a tinge of light syrupiness. We drunk the Terra D’Alter with confit duck and it worked a treat, cutting through the fat of the bird. 8/10
The Wine Society’s “own label” rosé, from Corsica, is a well-balanced, bone dry wine in which sangiovese predominates.
At £9.50, it is the most expensive of the bunch but packs the sort of sophistication that our old chum Cliff would appreciate.
The 2013 vintage is more of an aperitif wine than an “eater” in my opinion, and would make a very nice drink together with a handful of almonds under the shade of a tree. Subtly delicious.
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