I’m sitting on my stoep overlooking Bamboes Bay, glass of rosé in hand, staring out at the waves breaking over the rocks under pale blue skies, the sea breeze rustling the leaves in the garden.
No, I’m NOT day-dreaming, but if I were, such would be the power of rosé to stir the imagination. Great wines are by nature transporting. They take you on journeys through time and space, posing questions and rewarding contemplation.
No question about it, rosé has an emotional power all its own. These are seldom profound wines, yet rosé nonetheless tugs at the imagination and, in so doing, has become a symbol of summer’s liberation from all that is humdrum and work.
Wine’s aromas and flavours are of course important, but wine is so much more than that. Witness the phenomenon of rosé, which has been on a remarkable journey and shows no signs of faltering.
Thirty odd years ago, rosé was in such ill repute that many marketers came up with another name, “blush wine”. Twenty years ago you could barely give the stuff away. However, for the last decade or so, rosé has been hotter than the Knersvlakte in December. Examine them in all the conventional ways, look at them regionally, divide them by grape, it’s time to take seriously the emotional appeal of rosé, what it means to those who love it. And they are many … and they are growing in numbers daily!
What is it that rosé and summer have in common, and why do people otherwise ignore it out of season? It’s not that good rosé tastes different in July than it does in January, so it must be what rosé represents.
Like summer, rosé is an invitation to dress down, to relax. You don’t share a bottle of rosé with the boss, you share it with friends … after you’ve kicked off your shoes and wriggled your toes in the sand. Rosé is summer vacation, or at least it supports the state of mind that vacation is intended to achieve, and that’s a pretty good thing to find in a glass of wine.
But for some people, the wine itself matters as much as the connotations. For these people the critical element of the brain refuses to shut off, even for rosé.
Somebody might say: “Relax, it’s just rosé,” to which someone else responds: “Yes, but it’s wine as well, and as with all wines, some will be great, some will be awful and most will be in between. Don’t you want a good one?”
So, let’s look at what South Africa has to offer in this delightful and increasingly popular style of wine.
Tamboerskloof Katharien Syrah Rosé 2018
This very pale pink wine has a highly aromatic nose with a broad flavour spectrum of litschi, strawberry, raspberry, citrus and violets. It has depth, is well integrated and balanced – even spicy. All the fruit is from premier vines and 100% syrah. No acidification proves that this wine is rich with a balanced mouth-feel. After the clear juice was racked off, 85% of it was fermented in stainless steel tanks and the remainder in 300ℓ 5th fill French oak barrels.
Chill to 13˚C and open 30 minutes prior to serving. This wine will work well with starters like roasted beet salad, fresh figs or strawberries with mild cheese, or seafood pasta and sushi. Or simply enjoy on its own.
Deetlefs Stonecross Pinotage Rosé 2019
This wine, made from pinotage grapes exclusively, boasts a pale copper pink colour and alluring aromas of strawberries, sweet cherries, nectarines and candy floss on the nose. On the palate the wine has a strawberry sorbet entry with exceptional balance between acidity and fruit. Lingering strawberry flavours lead to a surprisingly salivating salty finish.
From smoked salmon, trout and snoek to Parma ham and ripe figs, and from crayfish and seafood paella to a bouillabaisse soup. Also ratatouille and vegetable moussaka.
Kunjani Stolen Chicken Rosé 2018
This refreshing wine, a blend of 98% shiraz and 2% merlot, has a pale rose gold colour and offers a nose of lime aromas fused with ripe raspberry. It enters the mouth with a salty minerality before releasing spicy and pomegranate flavours, while the natural acidity is well balanced by the fullness of the palate. The lingering aftertaste reminds of fruit sprinkled with salt.
Summer salads, as well as seafood, chicken and pasta dishes. Or enjoy chilled on its own.
Vondeling Rosé 2019
Made primarily from merlot, the anchor vineyard for this delicious wine is 20 years old. It boasts a delicate salmon pink colour and displays a bright bouquet of Turkish delight, raspberry coulis, passion fruit and litschi. The palate is well rounded but refreshingly vibrant, packed with red berry flavours, seductive floral undertones and a pleasant citrus twist.
Pair with spicy Thai prawns, grilled Portuguese sardines or a fresh tomato, feta and pomegranate salad.
De Grendel Rosé 2018
Produced from 50% pinotage, renowned for producing fine fruit-driven rosé, and 50% cabernet sauvignon, providing structure and acidity, this wine is pale watermelon in colour. It has a pronounced nose of strawberry Sugus, youthful raspberries and sherbet, while the palate is dry with a medium acidity, offering fresh summer fruit flavours of watermelon, green cantaloupe and ripe strawberries.
The De Grendel Rosé is the ideal partner for lighter summer fare such as fresh fruit skewers around the swimming pool, lime and chilli barbequed prawns, or a simple salad of smoked salmon ribbons, strawberries and crumbed black pepper feta.
Nederburg The Winemasters Carignan Grenache Rosé 2019
This refreshing wine is made from a blend of carignan (55%) and grenache (45%). It’s salmon pink in colour and displays aromas of summer berries and rose petals with hints of candyfloss on the nose. The palate offers an abundance of berry flavours that opens up into floral notes and a pleasant finish.
Excellent with smoked salmon, risotto, summer salads or vegetarian dishes.
In the next article we look at rosé’s from Diemersfontein, Riebeek Cellars, Anthonij Rupert Wyne, Klawer Cellar, De Krans and Van Loveren.