The Handbook
The Handbook

Nothing Says Valentine’s Like A Bottle Of Rosé

Food & Drink
By Phil Clarke | 13th February 2020

As far as I’m concerned, rosé is perfect all year round, from the darkest December day, huddled by the fire, to the balmiest summer bank holiday Monday layed out by the pool. And I’m sure that every Provencal peasant or Burgundy Baron would heartily agree. But over here there are two moments when rosé is socially acceptable, and that’s for the 15 minutes of August sun England receives and Valentine’s Day.

So let’s celebrate St Valentine by raising a glass of rosé, it may only be chosen because of it fits the v-day colour-scheme, but you and I both really know that there’s far more to it than that. Here are some of our favourites right now…

Whispering Angel

Until recently not many people knew what Whispering Angel was, but the same goes for Billie Eyelish or Greta Thunberg. But that’s the level of stardom we’re now working at, because LVMH are now onboard.

The world famous luxury brand bought a 55% stake in Château d’Esclans, the winemaker behind Whispering Angel, in December and it’s more than likely that the marketing behind the wine may even start to rival the taste.

Which, by the way is excellent, a classic Côtes de Provence rosé with flavours of grapefruit and citrus.

Price: £19.95
Find: www.jeroboams.co.uk

London Cru 

I get excited every time I open a bottle of London Cru wine, it goes without saying that the wine itself is more than drinkable but the fact it’s actually from London is even more remarkable.

Made in an ‘urban winery’ in Fulham, it’s tangibly local (literally, I could walk there in my lunch break) and their rosé is called Rosaville Rd – and I once lived on Rosaville Road!

And as for the wine, the grapes are all brought in from English vineyards and the wine they create really is rather special, regularly popping up on wine lists at top restaurants (I recently found this very wine on a pairing menu at Coworth Park).

Rosaville Rd, made up of Surrey Pinot Noir, has pink grapefruit and fresh strawberry aromas.

Price: £13.50
Find: www.robersonwine.com

Digby Leander Pink

It’s clear that Champagne has an English problem. A combination of climate change, increasing expertise and, dare we say it, Brexit, are combining to make ‘British Fizz’ all the more relevant and prevalent to the detriment of established French brands, and Digby are leading the charge. Ce la vie.

The marque have created their Fine English Leander Pink rosé in partnership with another quintessentially English institution the Leander Club. The home of rowing hosts the Henley Royal Regatta and their trademark pink and hippo emblem are perfect bedfellows for Digby’s rosé.

And it’s well worth a punt, with the pinot noir and red berry aromas evoking summer evenings drifting down the river.

Price: £32.99
Find: www.digby-fine-english.com

Billecart Salmon Rosé Brut

I think I’d find it easier to decide which is my favourite child than to choose between Champagne houses. But Billecart Salmon does at least pip both my children in the favourite stakes.

The Champagne house recently celebrated its hundreth birthday, but don’t let its relative youth put you off. Billecart-Salmon’s Brut Rose, a mix of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir (the blend’s method goes back for seven generations) is one of the most pleasing, and moreish, pink Champagnes about.

Price: £65
Find: www.champagnedirect.co.uk

Chapel Down

Best known for their sparkling wine, Kent winery Chapel Down is a jack of all trades (I recently tried their beer, while their pink gin has gone down a storm), but their best non-sparkling option has to be their English Rose.

The salmon pink colouring comes from an interesting blend of red Rondo and Regent grape varieties, and the nose is one of strawberries and cream, like summer in a bottle.

Price: £12.99
Find: www.waitrosecellar.com

Turkey Flat Rosé

The addage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ is even truer in wine than it is in bibliophily. So when you love a wine label you can nigh-on-guarantee that the wine will be mediocre at best.

Not so here. Turkey Flat led the rosé revival of Southern Australia’s Barossa Valley wine region and the maker is as good a bet as any when it comes to rosé.

Crisp and fruity, the grenache grape leads and we’re happy to follow. And to come back to the bottle, it really is a very pretty label…

Price: £13.25
Find: www.thedrinkshop.com

Nyetimber Rosé

In an increasingly crowded field of English Champagne-beaters, Nyetimber leads the pack. They have mastered the art of consistently mass-producing a very high quality product, using only English grapes and creating a uniquely British curveé. Their standard rosé is anything but standard, and a snip at £30, but if you’ve got deeper pockets the 1086 Rosé Prestige Cuvee comes in at £175 and lives up to the price-tag.

Nyetimber’s rosé is created with a combination of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, the grapes travel the short distance from West Sussex and Hampshire, giving the wine a nose of fresh red fruits, spice, anise and lavender. And take it from me, it’s delicious.

Price: £30
Find: www.nyetimber.com

Piper-HeidsieckRosé Sauvage

If you’re going to embrace pink, then go full-on bubblegum or go home. Or so say Piper Heidsieck. The bottle is almost garishly Barbie doll pink, and it’s kind of beautiful.

So much so that you won’t want to share it, but  you should. because the flavours come together wonderfully, with an aroma of dark berries, with a very slightly acidic edge.

If the aesthetic is important to you, when you pour the bright pink theme continues, no dusty blushes but rather the pinot noirs from Les Riceys, at the southern point of the Champagne region, and the chardonnays from the Montagne de Reims, combine to make a strikingly reddy colour.

Price: £40
Find: www.piper-heidsieck.com

AIX

AIX has built a great brand. Coming, seemingly out of nowhere, the wine is now everywhere. Maybe it’s the label, or the fact that the bottle sticks too far out of an ordinary wine rack, but mainly it’s because it’s actually a great drink.

Owned and run by the Kurver family, who moved to Provence from Holland to live everyone’s favourite daydream and take over a vineyard, Maison Saint AIX has quickly become the go-to for smart restaurants and hotels. Often seen in magnum form, clutched by Insta-famouses, the wine comes to your social feed from high up in the rolling Provence hills, north-east of Aix-en-Provence, with cool nights and hot days interspersed with regular Mistral winds providing perfect conditions for growing the grenache, syrah and cinsault grapes that go into AIX rosé.

Price: £18
Find: www.harveynichols.com