Which rosé wines are perfect for summer according to experts?

Most wine-lovers go through phases with rosé wines. There are at least a few youthful years spent drinking sickly sweet versions before tastes mature and you find yourself looking for something a bit more special.

Rosé wine is having somewhat of a renaissance at the moment, with plenty of new versions hitting the shelves. This time around popular rosé wines are paler, dryer and from regions like Provence. Whether you’re a big fan of all rosé wines, or you’re looking for something ideal for the hotter weather, here’s what some experts and wine lovers think.

 

Higher quality rosé wines

 

The quality seen in many rosé wines today is much higher than the cheap plonk of old, which is boosting its popularity even more. Winemakers are moving away from the very sweet, commercial style rosé wines, towards higher quality, dry wines.

Janet Harrison, founder of a wine tasting company, says that she loves rosé wine thanks to its versatility. She told Huffington Post that she likes the fact that rosé can be enjoyed on its own or with cubes of ice, and that it goes with all kinds of foods. She says: “It is a particularly good match with aromatic and Asian cuisine – which is really popular in the UK.”

 

Less alcohol, more flavour

Most rosé wines tend to be lower in alcohol, which matches the current trend for lower alcohol drinks. And there has also been plenty of celeb endorsement recently. Ex-footballer and husband of Posh Spice David Beckham has been shouting about Whispering Angel, a rosé that goes for about £60 in restaurants.

When selecting a rosé, it’s worth hunting out the perfect balance between sweet fruit and acidity. This is what sets the newer style, more sophisticated rosé wine apart from the older style sweet versions.

Luckily, there are enough rosé wines out there to suit every palate. If you prefer a light white, then choose a delicately pink rosé. These are generally called ‘Provence-style’ rosé wines and are light and fragrant. Darker pinks are ideal for people who love deep, juicy red wines, but it’s a good idea to avoid blushes if you want to avoid too much sweetness.

If you want to try a typical ‘Provence-style’ rosé wine, choose something like Chateau La Mascaronne Quat’ Saisons Cotes de Provence. It is packed with floral and fruit flavours, with a long, dry finish. It’s an organic wine from the 2018 vintage, made by chateau owner Tom Bove. Perfect for long, hot summer days.

Report shows 2018 broke fine wine investment records

Reports show that investing in fine wine is a more stable bet than buying gold, making it one of the most sought-after asset classes. The Liv-ex summary of the 2018 fine wine investment market says it is “a record-breaking year.”

The research shows that most of the top 100 investment wines revolve around Bordeaux, which has been “steady, consolidating after two years of strong gains”. Burgundy comes out the most impressive performer.

Fine wine investment index

The Fine Wine 1000 index by Liv-ex is described as “the broadest measure of the fine wine market”. Over the year, the index increased by 10.2% and Burgundy is responsible for a lot of the growth, rising by 35.5%.

The ten most impressive price rises were all Burgundy. This shows that demand for the highest end wines in this region is high and is likely to continue to increase prices over the next year.

Record-breaking wines in 2018 include two bottles of Romanee Conti 1945 that sold for just over £443,000 and £394,000 respectively. And while these grabbed media headlines, the wider market for Burgundy has been quietly growing. Collectors are buying more into estates including Roumier, Leflaive, Leroy and Rousseau.

Widening interest from investors

As well as the strong interest in Burgundy, the research also shows a clear trend for investors to widen their interest. Many are now looking past Burgundy and Bordeaux to other regions including the Rhone, California and Champagne. Wines from these regions are making impressive gains, but from smaller base levels than Burgundy.

Leaving aside the Live-ex 1000, the more exclusive index (Liv-ex 100) concentrates on only the most expensive wines. This increased in value by 0.22% within a narrow range of 2%, making it “more stable than gold” over the course of this year. This Is partly because the index is in Sterling, and there has been a somewhat stable pound against the Euro over the year.

For 2019, the index says that the fine wine market is “in good health, offering steady returns and low volatility compared with other mainstream assets”. The summary also mentions the doubts cast over the industry due to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, saying: “The outcome of Brexit negotiations will likely affect the price of fine wine because currency volatility influences the levels of interest from non-Sterling buyers. However, this might be less of an issue for regions with high demand and relative scarcity such as Burgundy and Piedmont.”

Which trends will dominate the wine industry in 2019?

Wine may be considered a luxury for many people, but the way the wine industry reacts to challenges often shapes the way consumers make their choices.

There are lots of reasons why people buy wine. For example, it’s the most gifted product at Christmas. But according to a 2018 study on the habits of wine consumes, 79% of wine buyers just like the taste, indicating they are not swayed by origin or ingredients. The survey also showed that 80% of people say that the cost is the main factor to consider when choosing wine.

Wine industry reacting to consumer tastes

Getting value for money will remain top of the list for the average consumer in 2019. As many countries are going through a period of political and economic changes, this inevitably affects the way people choose to spend their money. Often, this means more people spending less.

In the US, the relative strength of the dollar means certain German wines are more affordable. German Rieslings are likely to be popular, as buying trends pick up after a slow few years. Other great value options for UK and US buyers include rosé from French regions outside of Provence. For example, rosé from Loire, the Rhone Valley, Bordeaux and Gascony will be popular next year.

Environmental impact on wine-making

This year has been phenomenal for UK wine makers, with the biggest and best grape harvests likely to lead to a bumper vintage. And while this is a positive side-effect of rising temperatures, it also shows how much the wine industry must adapt to the new normal. Weather patterns are far more unpredictable, and this will continue. Winemakers are taking note of the changes in climate and their effects on the industry all over the world.

In California, winemaker Laura Diaz Munoz says that increases in temperature and the corresponding stress on water supply are among the environmental concerns for 2019: “Cooler regions are not cooler regions anymore.” She suggests that the industry will adapt by planting in new regions and changing varieties of grapes to match the climate changes.

Owner of Garden Creek Ranch Vineyards & Winery in California, Karin Warnelius-Miller agrees. She says: “In California, we are now living in a different reality than years past. Fires, smoke taint and drought – these are our dominant concerns for 2019 and into the future.”

Health and well-being

As well as the effect on wine-making from climate change and a drive towards value by consumers, 2019 will likely see a continuation of people balancing alcohol intake. Wine is being enjoyed more as part of a meal than as a standalone drink, and there is a corresponding interest in lower alcohol options. Journalist and expert on trends in the wine industry, Deborah Parker Wong says: “The wine industry’s commitment to education is exemplary and the emphasis on consuming wine with food is ever present.”

These are just some of the industry and consumer trends that will affect how people choose their wine as we move into 2019.

How mould affects the flavour of sweet wines

If you’re partial to a sweet wine, particularly one of the very best (such as Tokaji or Saiternes), it’s interesting to learn that the flavour is affected by different moulds. Ideal Wine Company discusses the research behind this.

Mould wouldn’t normally be the sort of flavour anyone’s after from their favourite drink, but scientists have pin pointed exactly how different kinds of moulds can affect the wine’s taste.

Ideal Wine Company sweet wine mould
Can mould impact the flavour of sweet wines?

Noble rot

German scientists have been studying botrytis cinereal (also known as grey mould), bunch rot and noble rot, and their effect on wine.

They’ve found, with a high degree of certainty, that noble rot increases the aromatic compounds in the wine. This produces a flavour combination that is at once floral, fruit and toasty. It’s what gives sweet white wine that delectable scent and flavour that keeps you going back for more.

Not so noble fungi

Other fungi that commonly affects vineyards includes Eryiphe necator, also known as powdery mildew. This is the kind of rot you don’t want in your grapes as it robs the vines of the vanilla flavour compounds, leaving it flat in taste and much less interesting.

The scientists tested wine made from both healthy and botrytis infected Roter Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Riesling grapes. They also used powdery-mildew infused hybrid Gm 8622-3 in their studies.

The researchers analysed and recorded specific odorants in the wine samples, and then asked a panel of ten ‘sniffers’ to rate them. These sniffers had been extensively schooled for more than six months to recognise 90 separate odours. The sniffers then rated the odours they detected.

Mouldy results

The scientists published their findings in Frontiers of Chemistry and showed that powdery mildew and noble rot both changed the composition of the aroma elements. These subtle changes ‘significantly affected’ the quality of the wine’s aroma.

It was found that grapes infected with noble rot increased the fruity smell that’s characteristic of Tokaji Aszu wines. The study also found that other lactones were also boosted, namely lactone sotolone, which has been likened to smelling of curry. On top of this they found an increase in alcohols and esters, which could account for the toasty flavour notes.

With the powdery mildew infected grapes, they found decreased levels of esters, vanillin and decanoic acid. The wine was not popular with the panel of sniffers, not due to tasting or smelling horrible, but down to the lack of interesting aroma.

Severe frost scuppers French crops

An almost unprecedented run of plunging temperatures and frosts have hit vineyards across central and northern France. In the worst run of weather in many growers’ memories, vineyards in Bordeaux, Champagne and Burgundy have reported extensively damaged crops. Ideal Wine Company reviews.

Temperatures took a hit across all three main wine making regions in France in the last week of April. Reports from across the board show extremes of cold ranging from -7C, hitting vines hard and causing untold damage.

Weather earlier this year was much milder, encouraging early growth of fresh vines. This means the vines had taken hold and were well developed by the time the late sharp spring frosts hit, and it may not be over yet. Growers are concerned for their income and fear that another cold snap will bite before the summer arrives.

Ideal Wine Company damaged vineyards
This year’s crops have been severely damaged.

Preventative measures by wine growers

Winemakers have been using heaters, candles and even the heat from helicopter down draughts to desperately try and save their crops. But it looks like the wine harvest from France in 2017 will be one of the smallest in three decades thanks to the poor timing of the coldest weather.

Experts are reporting that the frost damage is definitely already worse than the extensive problems caused by cold weather in 2016, when the total amount of wine produced in France fell by 10 per cent. Last year the wine region of Champagne suffered the most with a 20 per cent drop in wine output and it looks to be facing a larger loss in 2017.

More crops destroyed than last year

Last year the wine region of Champagne suffered the most with a 20 per cent drop in wine output and it looks to be facing a larger loss in 2017. However, this year in Champagne, around 25 per cent of vines have been completely destroyed already, compared with 14 per cent at this time last year. And that is a conservative estimate according to experts, meaning the damage could be even more extensive.

In Bordeaux it seems there’s even worse news, with estimates coming in of several thousand hectares of destroyed vineyards thanks to the frosts. Some have been damaged between 50 and 100 per cent. Patrick Vasseur from FNSEA, the largest farm union in France, said: “Today we are likely seeing the most important freeze since 1991. And there are more frosts forecast.”

The Cognac vineyard has been similarly damaged and some vineyards were simply completely wiped out in Bugey, near Lyon. In general, low lying vineyards have been the worst affected, as cold air settles low down and therefore they’re more open to frost damage.

It’s not possible to gauge the exact range of damage as it’s unclear until shoots blacken and die. Growers are continuing to take precautions as they wait to see whether the worst is over.