Rose Wines

The mono-tonal and gloomy winters are gone, and the bright, lively, and colourful summers are just setting in. With the hues changing in the sky it’s time to change our wines too. Sparkling Rosés are the most fitting ambassador of the month of March, indicating appropriately with its colours, the shift of seasons, and the celebratory festival Holi. It was only in the right spirit, thus, that the Sommelier India Tasting Panel filled its copas with a range of sparkling rosés too. 

Nothing marks the arrival of summers the way sparkling rosés do. Pink, bubbles, red fruits, vibrant acidity, light, and playful, what’s not to like? They are simple and attractive and don’t require as much study as whites and reds before you could come close to enjoying them. But that’s not to say they aren’t serious. They are a magnificent way to study the play of grape varieties, winemakers’ techniques, cellaring, and natural influences. They’re just not nerdy and geeky. Their colours can vary from pale to very dark, and so can the weight. Two methods can be applied for producing sparkling rosés – either the wines can be bottle fermented (Champagne/Classic method) or they be produced in the tank (aka Charmat method). That is true for non-rosé sparkling wines too, however, in the case of rosé bubblies, it’s the technique that matters more than its varietals. Principally, bottle fermentation provides rather neutral wines with finer and numerous bubbles, crisp high acidity, light body, and a serious personality. Since the wines are fermented in the bottle from which you’ll be pouring yourself a glass, the yeast dies after fermentation finishes and stays with the liquid. This process of yeast passing away and its slow breakdown is called ‘yeast autolysis’. It’s from this process that the wine achieves the bulk of its flavour and a creamy texture too. Brioche, biscuits, mushrooms, mustiness, and nuttiness are a few to name. These are perhaps the most delectable flavours in a bottle-fermented bubbly and they add to the complexity of a wine. Champagnes and Cavas are its prime examples. Grapes with naturally high aromatic and exuberant, ripe, and intense flavours are better kept off of the influence of autolysis. The idea with these varietals is to retain their natural essences and incorporate fizz in their scheme of things. This is where tank-fermentation process is best applicable. Wines are fermented in highly pressurised, temperature-controlled closed tanks, where as soon as the second fermentation finishes, and the yeast dies, the wines bottled to retain their freshness. This way the yeast doesn’t influence the wine’s personality at all. This is how Prosecco and Asti are made. 

Bottle fermented wine are neutral, and higher in yeastiness and savoury notes, which makes them a better candidate for food pairings. While tank fermented bubblies are fruity, playful, and light, and are even better enjoyed on their own, that’s not to say that they’re a fail when put with food. 

India is adding more and more sparkling rosés to its arsenal. Sula Vineyards has always had a good range of sparkling rosés and they added another ‘Tropical’ to spice up their offering. York Vineyards and Fratelli Wines have also added some colour to the sparkling offerings after an initial white-only bubbly introduction. Grover Zampa also has caught on to the trend and added ‘Magnifique’, positioning it as a celebratory label. Chandon has always had a sparkling rosé, which has only gotten more serious in its style over the years. Casablanca, and Frizzante, from Good Drop Winery, are two unique wines, made with Charmat method against all other Indian sparkling rosés being bottle fermented. Casablanca is a Prosecco-styled wine while the latter is a semi-dry sweeter vino. Wineries do state that the demand for the style has grown and the consumers are happy drinking sparkling rosés as much as their fairer sibling. From the international offering, Champagnes have always offered rosés, and Proseccos are quickly joining the club. International giants like the Aussie Jacob’s Creek, Portuguese heavy-weight Mateus, and the Italian sweetheart Ferrari have also been offering their sparkling rosés for long, being a good example of their styles as well. Put these all together and you get a massive range to toy with, all from your local shelves just a stone’s throw away.

For this tasting, Champagnes were kept exclusive from the mix. SITP understands that Rosé Champagnes are a category and a study in their own and it’ll be fair to taste them exclusively at a different occasion. 

While most of the wines were promising in their quality, some died a sorrowed death due to bad storage, prominently Indian rosés. While it’s concerning, though not an indication of their quality. Through our learnings from the tasting, it’ll be safe to suggest to check the production date on the wines while procuring them and best to relish them at their earliest, than cellaring them for long in the hope of popping them at a momentous occasion. Let the popping of an Indian sparkling rosé be an celebratory occasion in itself in the support of our desi makers. 

TANK FERMENTED WINES

San Simone Il Concerto Prosecco DOC Brut Rose, ITALY

Bright pale salmon colour. High effervescence with fine bubbles. 

Ripe palate with fresh fruity acidity, creamy mouthfeel, pronounced flavours of strawberries, sweet cherries, and bubblegum. Very likeable wine, light and stylish, with appropriate balance.

Amicable, approachable, and refreshing.

NV Casablanca Vino Spumante Rose, INDIA

Bright appearance with pale salmon hue. Big bubbles that die off quickly. 

Rather flat nose without much appeal or aromatics, especially surprising given its production. 

Soft on the palate but the unpleasant lack of balance dominates with leafy flavours, metallic bitterness, astringent tartness, and crushed apple skin aftertaste. 

Avoidable

BOTTLE FERMENTED

Mateus Brut Rose Baga Shiraz, PORTUGAL

Bright appearance, lush salmon colour. Effervescence goes away quickly. Small well integrated bubbles. Crisp mouthful on the palate, plenty of sweet and light red and pink fruits, evident yeast autolysis. Persistent and ripe appeal. Hint of residual sugar at the end.

Simple and charming, effortlessly.  

Ferrari Metodo Classico Brut Rose Trento DOC, ITALY

Bright appearance with an onion skin colour.

Clean palate with medium intensity of flavours. Refreshing mouthfeel with ripe fresh flavours of beetle leaf, concentrated plush red fruits, balancing yeast autolysis, and apply crisp acids. Husky graininess as the wine leaves the palate. A tad hollow at the end. 

Fresh, generous, food-worthy. A good find. 

Jacob’s Creek Rose Sparkling Shiraz, AUSTRALIA

Bright, pale salmon colour. Elegant mousse and fizz. Bubbles are a tad bigger than bottle fermented wine.

Plush palate with moderate intensity of ripe red fruits, floral touches, creamy palate. Fruity mouthfeel with a good griping round acidity, a tad musty at the end, but clears off on a good yeasty and biscuity tone and a gentle lift from the slight residual sugar.

Impressive simplicity. A good benchmark to have.

Sula Brut Rose, INDIA

Bright appearance, medium intensity of onion skins tone. Flat with no vibrancy in the fizz

Smells medicinal and coppery. Aromatics seem put together, than natural. Palate has dead and over extracted fruit, raisiny and over ripe, cooked and savoury flavours. Astringent flat acidity, rusted metallic touches, ending with oxidised apple sourness. 

Definitely a badly stored bottle. 

Chandon Brut Rose, INDIA

Bright fresh salmon pink colour. Good fizz with persistence and abundant bubbles.

Fresh burst of aromas afront. Ripe berries, cherries, concentrated and matured fruit. Good balance from the yeast autolysis flavours too, yet letting the plush fruitiness prevail. Hint cloying at the end but overall a neat wine with a strong core and grip. Balance is evident but not impressive, finishes with a faint mouthfeel.

Very drinkable, pleasant.

Fratelli Wines Gran Cuvee Brut Rose, INDIA

Medium salmon colour, good plentiful fizz.

Good nose with medium intensity of aromas. Ripe, matured, and concentrated fruit. There’s yeastiness but in balance with only a minor presence. Very dry on the palate, making the acidity be at the forefront. Tad metallic at the end. Does need food to counter the sharp acidic punch.

Not your regular Rose.

York Vineyards Sparkling Cuvee Brut Rose, INDIA

OFF

Zampa Soiree Brut Rose, INDIA

Bright appearance with deep salmon colour. Impressive effervescence, long and persistent. 

Sweet red and pink fruits. Ripe and concentrated palate, with a hint of bubblegummy sweetness at the back. Good yeast integration, providing flavours of mushrooms, brioche, quince, lifted rhubarb perfume. Ripe, round, yet refreshing acidity binds everything together. Long aftertaste.

Serious, well-defined, elegant. WOW!!

Zampa Soiree Brut Magnifique Rose, INDIA

Bright appearance with attractive watermelon candy colour. Abundant fizz. Very pleasant sight. 

Clear nose and palate. Fruity fruont, tartness follows, high concentration of yeast autolysis but get overpowered by syrupy sweetness of red fruits and berry flavours. Amicable grainy mouthful with a candied aftertaste. Though it’s a pleasing wine, it seems a tad confusing in its purpose and what it wishes to display. 

Magnificent indeed. 

WINES WITH SWEETNESS

Frizzante Rose, INDIA – Tank Fermented

Bright appearance, pale pink hue. Aggressive fizz that dies quickly.

Flat and neutral nose. Sweet red fruits and berries flavours, bubblegum, rhubarb candy. A line of old and oddly metallic flavours exists throughout. Grassy finish with a greasy mouthfeel. Semi-dry style of wine, yet lacks aftertaste.

Can be drunk, but not too much due to the sweetness level.

Sula Seco Rose, INDIA – Bottle Fermented

OFF

Cavicchioli & Figli 1928 Extra Dry Rose Prosecco DOC, ITALY – Tank Fermented

Deep orange candy colour. Good fizz.

Plush aromatics and florals. Candied sweetness, orange glaze, quince candy, red berry bubblegum, candy floss, orange blossoms, talc, musk, and baklava. lacks acidity, thus a tad cloying, and sticky. Shows Moscato dominance all though.

Fun, playful, joyous.  

First published in Sommelier India Wine Magazine in April, 2019

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