Normally I wait until August to take on the topic of rosé as many only want to drink this lighter version of red wine when the heat arrives. Personally, I used to hate the wine because, as most winemakers admit, they make it just because people want to buy a cheap pink wine and little regard is given to the craft of the wine as long as it’s light in body and a bit sweet.
There are however two main schools of winemaking when it comes to rosé and they sit on either side of the River Rhône. First is the Tavel style, which is the one that most people are probably familiar with. Vivid salmon in colour, the wine sees more contact with the skins during fermentation, has more body, and is generally the more popular variety. The other style originates in Provence and is incredibly light in colour and sees little or no contact with the skins during fermentation.
In Spain, most rosés that I have found tend to gravitate towards the Tavel style (also known as the Navarra style) and it’s these wines that are oft-maligned and disregarded as many winemakers use their lesser-quality fruit to keep the retail cost down. While working on the second edition of my Vinologue Priorat book, I had the chance to taste two very new DOQ Priorat wines from Scala Dei and Clos l’Asentiu. These wines are derived from 100% Grenache and show just how excellent rosé can be if the intent is there to make a quality wine, and a gifted winemaker, such as Ricard Rofes (Scala Dei) or Albert Costa (Clos l’Asentiu, Vall Llach), is at the helm.
Cellers de Scala Dei – Pla dels Àngels 2014
Floral notes of lily and violet along with rosemary currents, and peach. A fresh character overall with a great deal of depth. €18
Clos l’Asentiu – La Matilde 2014
Named after one of the oldest residents in the village of Porrera, it holds aromas of grapefruit, sour cherry, fennel, slate, and orange blossom. Full and pleasing body with excellent balance and freshness. €14