Christmas is likely to be a washout, but at least it can be washed down… with alcohol. Think of winter and wine and you’re probably imagining being sat by a roaring fire with a glass of claret, but this year we’re mixing it up and serving rosé. Because, it reminds us of summer (when all this will be over), sure, but also because the crispness of a cold glass of rosé is actually the perfect drink for a when it’s deep-and-crisp-and-even outside too.
So here are some of the wines we’ll be wheeling out on Christmas Day. Probably just to ourselves…
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 (this is actually a tiny bit irritating), 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.
Château Saint Maur, Saint M
Salmon-pink with aromas of wild strawberries, hope that Saint N brings some Saint M this Christmas.
Proving it’s more than just a pretty bottle (and it really is a pretty bottle, the wine is smooth and refreshing. Ideal for serving alongside festive canapes.
Babylonstoren’s Mourvèdre Rosé
Straight from South Africa, Babylonstoren’s Mourvèdre Rosé his the perfect balance of price, quality and flexibility with most dishes. Ideal for the summer heat, this rosé still works just as well in winter!
The colour is salmon, and the taste is pure summer, with hints of raspberries and rose petals, rhubarb and a gentle acidity that begs for a second glass.
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 last year 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 and is the perfect way to forget about the virus, cares, worries or the fact you just claimed your preferred a Champagne to your children…
Until recently not many mainstream people knew what Whispering Angel was, but the same goes for Billie Eilish 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.
Mirabeau Etoile Provence Rosé
Given the travel bans in place we can only imagine summer in Provence right now. The lavender, the pastel colours, the heat and the calm. But thankfully you can relive it through the wines of Mirabeau. The vineyard is run by an English family who have left London to quite literally live the dream, making wine and enjoying a new life in France, and their Mirabeau Etoile Provence Rosé is the essence of Provence distilled into a glass.
Beyond the brushed pink prettiness there’s rich aromas of pear and peach with a delicate citrus note. Drink in the sun with a creamy cheese or a dessert and think of speeding to the South of France once lockdown’s over!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
Piper-Heidsieck Rosé 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.
Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé
A blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier varieties, Perrier-Jouët Blason sparkling rosé wine displays aromas of strawberry and raspberries with earthy notes of spice and honey and the colour of the wine is a lovely salmon pink.
Perrier-Jouët was founded in 1811 and has been associated with the arts since their collaboration with Émile Gallé’s in 1902. The artist’s iconic flowers make an appearance on the label of the Blason, which, in turn, gets its name from the ‘Blason de France’ range, created by the House in 1956 and blends 50 different vins clairs from across the Champagne house’s vineyards.
Our team have tasted every single wine listed in this article, as you can imagine it was an arduous task but it also ensures that we are only recommending wines that we have enjoyed and feel we can recommend to our readers. We aim to cover a range of price-points, we’re not here just for snobs (though snobs are always welcome too!).
Of course there are thousands of wines out there that we’ve not tasted, if you’re a grower or work in the industry please feel free to get in touch on [email protected].