Pink or Rosé wine has for some reason always been associated with summer. Some blame the French who apparently love their red so much that even when temperatures soar, they still insist on wines with a modicum of their beloved red wines. (Pink wines are generally made from red grape varieties, hence their colour.) It would seem that rosé wines are now as seasonal as port at Christmas or Champagne at birthdays and its now not only the French but the whole world which has followed suit. It would seem summer is now pink worldwide.
If I asked you what the world’s most famous rosé wine is, you’d probably have difficulty naming any pink wines off the top of your head let alone the most famous in the world. Yet the answer is staring you right in the face as there are few of us who have never tasted Mateus Rose one of the wine world’s most ubiquitous wines. In my opinion it deserves that particular accolade after all being slightly fizzy, reminiscent of sweet strawberries and undoubtedly refreshing, is a wine I still would be very happy to drink on a hot afternoon. “Better Mateus Rose in good company than Vega Sicilia in bad,” as a good friend of mine was fond of saying at every possible occasion. It must have been very bad company he was sharing his last Vega Sicilia because he moved on to the next world whilst there was still wine left in the bottle. Hopefully he’s now drinking Mateus with an angel or two and not Vega Sicilia in lesser company.
Better Mateus Rose in good company than Vega Sicila in bad.
If Mateus Rose is available everywhere at very modest prices, Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva Rose from Rioja is most certainly not. It’s eye-wateringly expensive and one of the most difficult wines to get hold of even if you are prepared to pay the going rate, perhaps because only 20,000 bottles are made and then not every year (the latest vintage released is the 2010). It’s rare enough that even well-known critics are unable to rate each, and every vintage presumably like us, they too have problems getting hold of the wine. I have been lucky enough to taste the wine on three separate occasions the last being the 2010 vintage only a few days ago (it paired well with Chinese chicken and vegetables).
Like all the Tondonias, it is a complex wine with superlatives like cedar, wood and orange peel easily attributable to the wine. It has an extremely long finish. I expect the 2010 to be still drinkable for a decade or two. It might be worthwhile, should you be interested, to see if Anglo Hispano, the local agents for Tondonia, might have a bottle squirreled away somewhere, hopefully at the release price and not the going price in the secondary market – no harm in asking!
There are other pink wines considered world class. One I have tasted recently is Tempier Rose 2020 from the Bandol region of France which sells out within weeks of release. Unfortunately, the wine is still unapproachable and almost verging on the unpleasant, tasting rough and unpolished. Opening a 2020 turned out to be premature! I’m told Tempier Rose take a few years before they are drinkable, but I’m assured by friends, who know the wine well, it will be worth the wait.
Luckily there are no shortages of classy pinks from Spain. Rioja is a great hunting ground for pinks particularly as many producers there are now turning to their original roots and making wines from traditional grape varieties as opposed to international grapes like Chardonnay which was all the rage a few years ago. There’s no doubt there are a great number of yet ‘undiscovered’ pinks in Spain. This is good news for us in Gib, as Spanish wines are hugely more accessible than pinks from Provence or other French regions. Below are some Spanish pinks or rosados worthwhile looking out for.
Ramon Bilbao Lalomba Rosado – Rioja *****
CUNE Rosé-Rioja ***
Marquez de Caceres Rosado – Rioja ***
Alma Tobia Rosado – Rioja *****
Dominio del Aguila Rosado – Ribera del Duero *****
Scala Dei Rosado – Priorat *****
Zárate Rose – Rias Baixas *****
Since pink wines are made with red grape varieties and some skin contact is required to extract some colour during fermentation it will, inevitably, also extract tannins generally avoided like the plague when making white wines. This will make most pink wines taste quite different from whites; the deeper the colour the more likely they are to have some red wine characteristics. Perhaps that’s why some pink wine can have such long lives ahead of them.
I can think of few things better than a glass of well-chilled rose at some chiringuito by the beach waiting for a tomato salad and grilled sardines to arrive at the table.