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Rosé Masters 2015: the results

Provence proved that its dominance of the rosé category is not to be underrated in this year’s Rosé Masters. However, the competition still managed to throw up some pleasantly surprising entries from elsewhere.

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Well, if there’s one headline result that we can state at the outset, the world’s best pink wine is sparkling, and comes from Champagne. Although it wasn’t the only entry in the drinks business Rosé Masters to achieve the ultimate accolade – that of “Master” – Laurent Perrier’s Cuvée Alexandra Rosé 2004 did gain the highest marks of the entire competition. Now, for those who know this producer – which for many years has carved out a reputation for pink fizz – its position at the top of the table is perhaps no surprise. But it’s interesting to think that the creation of something age-worthy, complex, refreshing and pink is really the preserve of one place: Champagne. Having said that, there were plenty of other great rosés in this year’s competition – some with bubbles (and lees influence) but for the most part, without. And, aside from Champagne’s ability to craft magnificent pink wines, other places of note include parts of Spain, the US, Portugal, Austria, New Zealand and France – most prominently, of course, Provence. We also had a lovely entry from Greece.

Tongues Wagging

I2t should be said early on that tasting rosé isn’t particularly arduous – it’s tasty, refreshing, and tannin free – but it does elicit plenty of discussion. That’s partly due to the influence of colour: the judges were asked not to be prejudiced against darker rosés, since we were aware that UK trade professionals tend to favour the pale salmon pink appearance achieved most famously with the Provençal pinks. Then there’s the impact of style to consider, above all the level of sugar in the wines. Consequently, the judges were also requested not to punish sweeter styles, as long as the sugar content, whatever the level, was balanced by acidity. Finally, there’s the effect of oak, an increasingly common ingredient in upmarket pink wines, and again, the judges were asked to look upon its influence – where complementary – with an open mind. After all, there’s a growing market for rosés to pair with richer foods.

This year, overall, it was apparent that not only was the spread of colour and style broader than ever, so was the standard. There were some exceptional wines, but also some disappointments – either rosés that were jammy and confected, or prematurely tired, even browning. The odd example was also unpleasantly reductive: with a strong eggy scent indicating the presence of hydrogen sulphide. Overall, the great still rosés had lovely red-fruited scents, a lightly viscous texture, and a long, dry, fresh finish. It sounds simple, but achieving a balance of ripe fruit flavours along with palate-cleansing acidity is far from easy, and rosés that failed to score top medals were either too delicate, or sometimes, a little hard, and even herbaceous.

Provence, however, does seem to set the benchmark style and appearance in the world of top end rosés at present. Although some – notably from Spain – have retained their richer pink hues and juicier cherry fruit flavours, the majority of £10+ rosés, whether they are from Austria or Australia, appear to have tried to mimic the pale pink of Provence, and, in terms of taste, the delicate red fruits of the wines from this region. Only the very best however, had managed to capture a white floral character too.

Sparkling Performers

Looking more closely at the results by category, it’s clear in sparkling rosé that price and quality were correlated in this tasting. It wasn’t until the entries slipped over the £30 mark that the judges started awarding Silvers, and of these, all were from Champagne. However, moving up into Gold, and we encountered one pleasant surprise this year: a delicious traditional method pink sparkler from New Zealand. One of the judges did detect that it might not be Champagne due to its slightly punchier fruit character and touch more alcohol, but otherwise this was a fine fizz with biscuity autolytic aromas and pristine strawberry and lemon flavours, even a touch of chalk on the finish.

Indeed, we did consider awarding the sparkling wine the top title of Master, but unfortunately, it was closely followed by the aforementioned Laurent Perrier Cuvée Alexandra, which did, quite rightly, earn the accolade of best wine of the flight – and as a result it claimed the Master. Nevertheless, for good value great pink fizz, Central Otago’s Akarua is one to watch. Another first-rate and Gold-winning example highlighted by the blind tasting was from Champagne Devaux. At £54.99, the D de Devaux rosé was more expensive than the New Zealand sparkling, but still significantly less than the Cuvée Alexandra, which retails for around £250 a bottle.

Provence Dominates

3At the cheapest end of the dry still rosé spectrum were good examples from most parts of the world, particularly Spain, which, as the tasting proved, does a good job providing correct, fruity, inexpensive pink wines to the market. However, the standouts under £10 were all from Provence – Château Volterra, Domaine Longue Tubi and Barton & Guestier’s Passport – apart from one. Here again we had a pleasing surprise, as among the top of the pile in this flight was Lenz Moser’s Zweigelt Rosé from Austria. Moving up the price ladder, between £10 and £15, again Provence dominated the Silvers, although there were two excellent pink wines from Spain, one from Rioja’s Bodegas Izadi and the other from Penedes, made by famous Cava maker, Raventos I Blanc. Nestled among these was another Silver from France, but this time from Bordeaux: a memorable rosé from Château Brown, with lots of attractive raspberry fruit, as well as a slightly smoky aroma, along with a weightier texture due to four months maturation in French oak barrels.

Over £15, and the five Silvers awarded were taken up by four wines from Provence, once more highlighting this region’s ability to produce first-rate rosés, but also its strong performance at higher price points – when the judges are harsher. It was satisfying though to discover something new and high quality at this level, with a pink wine from Greece gaining a Silver. Also, this wasn’t a Provençal lookalike, but a deeply coloured pink with lots of fruit and character. Coming from Alpha Estate in the Florina region, the rosé is made with Xinomavro and Syrah in equal measure. Finally, moving up to the most expensive area of the still pink planet, we considered those few rosés sold over £20. Once again, this price category drew attention not only to Provence’s pre-eminence, but the ability of one producer: Château d’Esclans. The combination of great sites, old vines, and painstaking winemaking has made this estate the new benchmark producer of pink wines – that is, alongside Domaine Ott, which didn’t enter the tasting this year.

Notably, the tasters picked out Château d’Esclans’ new label as the best still wine of the competition. Called Rock Angel, the sub-brand comes above the producer’s entry-level Whispering Angel, but below its Les Clans and Garrus at the top. Rock Angel’s strong performance attests to the quality-price relationship of this rosé, which sells for around £20, and yet enjoys all the winemaking precision of the top labels – and, it should be noted, less of the oak influence. Indeed, moving up to this property’s most expensive expression, the scores in fact fell – the Garrus is undoubtedly an impressive wine and expensively crafted, but with 10 months in new and second-use 600 litre barrels, the oak influence was a touch dominant for some of the judges, who were also critical of its colour (it is only just pink). It should be added, however, that when it comes to expensive rosé, there are an increasing number of ambitious players, and both Famille Sumeire and Château Léoube showed their ability to rub shoulders with the best rosés in the world – watch out Ott and d’Esclans.

Sweet rosés

Looking briefly to the sweet rosés, it was telling that Spain and Portugal’s big producers – Félix Solís Avantis and Sogrape – really know how to create high quality commercial wine styles. Indeed, these two companies were the only ones to gain a Silver medal for sweet rosé under £10. Moving over £15, and this year’s tasting uncovered a lovely example that was just off-dry, containing 6g/l of residual sugar. Made by California’s Angels & Cowboys, the brand is both fun, and tasty. The wine is also pale pink, which means that consumers can appear as though they are sipping bone-dry Provençal rosé, while in fact enjoying a touch of sweetness – something more traditionally associated with Californian rosé. And with that, it should be win-win for some.

Click through to see this year’s medal-winning wines… and see below for the judges 

Rose masters judges
The judges (left to right): Robin Kinahan MW, Bibendum PLB Group; Hugo Rose MW, Wine Investment Association; Clement Robert, Medlar Restaurant; Patrick Schmitt MW, the drinks business; Demetri Walters MW, Berry Bros. & Rudd; Beverly Tabbron MW, Hallgarten Druitt & Novum Wines; Matthieu Longuère MS, Le Cordon Bleu, London; Mark Savage MW, Savage Selection

Still rosé over 4 g /l – below £10

Company Product Name Vintage Country Medal Sugar, g / l
Felix Solis Avantis Viña San Juan Rosado 2014 Spain Silver 7
Sogrape UK Mateus Original NV Portugal Silver 15
Felix Solis Avantis Consigna Rosado 2014 Spain Bronze 9
Emmanuel Delicata Victoria Heights Shiraz Rosé DOK Gozo 2014 Malta Bronze 9.6
Vinprom Yambol Villa Yambol 2014 France Bronze 9.9
DFJ Vinhos Paxis 2014 Portugal Bronze 13
Percy Fox & Co Blossom Hill White Zinfandel 2013 US Bronze 30
Blends Wine Estate Tomero Malbec Rosé 2014 Argentina Bronze 4.4
Croatian Fine Wines Limited Kabola Rosa 2013 Croatia Bronze 5.3
Weinkellerei Lenz Moser Fête Rosé 2014 Austria Bronze 4.2
Alliance Loire Cabernet de Saumur Rosé 2014 France Bronze 5
Blends Wine Estate Argento Malbec Rose 2014 Argentina Bronze 5.65
Distell Europe Allesverloren Tinta Barocca Rose 2014 South Africa Bronze 5.88
Viña Tamaya Pink Goat 2014 Chile Bronze 7.64
Felix Solis Avantis Conquesta Rosada 2014 Spain Bronze 9
Felix Solis Avantis Contenda Rosado Tempranillo 2014 Spain Bronze 9
Sogrape UK Mateus Expressions Aragonez Zinfandel 2013 Portugal Bronze 30

Still rosé over 4g/l – £10-£15

Company Product Name Vintage Country Medal Sugar g / l
Chilford Hundred Chilford Hundred Blush 2013 2013 UK Bronze 7.7

Still rosé over 4g/l – £15-£20

Company Product Name Vintage Country Medal Sugar, g / l
Angels & Cowboys Wines Sonoma County Rosé 2014 US Silver 6

Sparkling rosé under 12g/l – £10-£15

Company Product Name Vintage Country Medal
Ackerman – Rémy Pannier Crémant de Loire Rosé NV France Bronze
Alliance Loire Crémant de Loire Rosé De Chanceny NV France Bronze
Champagne Michel Arnould et Fils Brut Rosé Grand Cru NV France Bronze

Sparkling rosé under 12g/l – £15-£20

Company Product Name Vintage Country Medal
Raventos I Blanc De Nit 2012 Spain Bronze
Champagne Daniel Dumont Rosé Premier Cru NV France Bronze

Sparkling rosé under 12g/l – £30-£50

Company Product Name Vintage Country Medal
Akarua Rosé Brut Méthode Traditionelle NV New Zealand Gold
Champagne Chassenay d’Arce Cuvée Rosé NV France Silver
Champagne Paul Goerg Premier Cru Rosé NV France Silver
Champagne Chassenay d’Arce Rosé Cuvée Confidences NV France Silver
Champagne Canard-Duchêne Charles VII Brut Rosé NV France Silver
Autréau Champagne Champillon Brut Rosé Premier Cru NV France Silver
Vranken Pommery Heidsieck & Co. Monopole Rosé Top NV France Bronze
Champagne Jacquart Champagne Jacquart Rosé NV France Bronze
Champagne Comtes Audoin de Dampierre Cuvée des Ambassadeurs Rosé Premier Cru NV France Bronze

Sparkling rosé under 12g/l – over £50

Company Product Name Vintage Country Medal
Champagne Laurent-Perrier Alexandra Rosé 2004 France Master
Champagne Devaux D Rosé NV France Gold
Champagne Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé NV France Silver

Sparkling rosé over 12g/l – below £10

Company Product Name Vintage Country Medal
Azienda Agricola Luigi Manera Aura Letitiae 2014 Italy Bronze

Sparkling rosé over 12g/l – £15-£20

Company Product Name Vintage Country Medal
Moulin de Gassac Mas de Daumas Gassac – Rosé Frisant 2014 France Bronze

Sparkling rosé over 12g/l – £20-£30

Company Product Name Vintage Country Medal
Hush Heath Estate 1503 Balfour Rosé NV UK Bronze

Still rosé under 4g/l – £20 to £30

Company Product Name Vintage Country Medal
Domaines Sacha Lichine Angel Rock, Castle Esclans 2014 France Master
Château Léoube Le Secret of Léoube 2014 France Gold
Famille Sumeire Cesar A Sumeire 2014 France Silver

Still rosé under 4g/l – over £30

Company Product Name Vintage Country Medal
Domaines Sacha Lichine Les Clans – Château d’Esclans 2013 France Gold
Domaines Sacha Lichine Garrus – Château d’Esclans 2013 France Bronze

Still rosé under 4g/l – below £10

Company Product Name Vintage Country Medal
Château Volterra Chateau Volterra AOC Rosé 2014 France Silver
Domaine Long Tubi Domaine Long Tubi 2014 France Silver
Barton & Guestier Passport – Côtes de Provence Rosé 2014 France Silver
Weinkellerei Lenz Moser Lenz Moser Selection Zweigelt Rosé 2014 Austria Silver
Bodegas Príncipe de Viana Principe de Viana Garnacha 2014 Spain Bronze
Felix Solis Avantis Tesco Finest Rose Toro 2014 Spain Bronze
Château Ksara Sunset 2014 Lebanon Bronze
Bodegas y Viñedos Casa Del Valle Calle Principal Rosado 2014 Spain Bronze
Bodegas y Viñedos Casa Del Valle Acantus Rosado 2014 Spain Bronze
Château Ksara Gris de Gris 2014 Lebanon Bronze
Bodegas Barbadillo Pirineos Tempranillo-Cabernet 2014 Spain Bronze
Boutinot Les Cerisiers – Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2014 France Bronze
Casal Thaulero Borgo Thaulero Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOP 2013 Italy Bronze
Dives Estate Dives Rose Winery 2014 Bulgaria Bronze
Sociedade Agricola D Diniz Monte da Ravasqueira 2014 Portugal Bronze
Cantina Collemoro Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOP Club 2014 Italy Bronze
Dives Estate Dives Winery Rose Special Selection 2014 Bulgaria Bronze
Cantina Zaccagnini Tralcetto Cerasuolo DOC 2014 Italy Bronze
Mirabeau Mirabeau Classic 2014 France Bronze
Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Rosé 2014 France Bronze
Bodegas Olarra Rosado Anares 2014 Spain Bronze
Domaine De La Tour Latour Gâtigne – AOP Uché D’Uzes Red 2014 France Bronze
Bodegas Ochoa Ochoa Rosado De Lagrima 2014 Spain Bronze
Maison Saint Aix Aix 2014 France Bronze
Famille Sumeire Cabaret – Côtes de Provence 2014 France Bronze
Domaine Bousquet Cabernet Malbec Rosé 2015 Argentina Bronze
Bodegas Ontañon Ontañon Clarette 2014 Spain Bronze
Bodegas Borsao Borsao Seleccion Rosado 2014 Spain Bronze

Still rosé under 4g/l – £10-£15

Company Product Name Vintage Country Medal
Wines Tree d2 Rosé 2014 France Silver
Domaine Saint Andrieu L’Oratoire Saint-Andrieu 2014 France Silver
Château Brown Château Brown Rosé 2014 France Silver
Bodegas Izadi Izadi Larrosa 2014 Spain Silver
Vranken Pommery La Gordonne Verité du Terroir 2014 France Silver
Raventos I Blanc La Rosa 2014 Spain Silver
Quasar Vineyards Q Rose – Waitaki Valley 2014 New Zealand Bronze
Château Léoube Rosé de Léoube 2014 France Bronze
Château des Demoiselles Château des Demoiselles 2014 France Bronze
Famille Sumeire Château L’Afrique – Côtes de Provence 2014 France Bronze
Famille Sumeire Castle Cushion – Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire 2014 France Bronze
Domaine Saint Andrieu Domaine Saint Andrieu 2014 France Bronze
Régine Sumeire – The Bishop’s Castle Tour Château La Tour de l’Eveque 2014 France Bronze
Mirabeau Mirabeau Pure 2014 France Bronze
Bodega Y Vinedos Renacer Punto Final Malbec Rose 2014 Argentina Bronze
Gassier En Provence Château Beaulieu – Cuvée Alexandre 2014 France Bronze

Still rosé under 4g/l – £15-£20

Company Product Name Vintage Country Medal
Régine Sumeire – Château La Tour de l’Evêque Pétale de Rose 2014 France Silver
Domaines Sacha Lichine Whispering Angel, Caves d’Esclans 2014 France Silver
Vranken Pommery Château La Gordonne La Chapelle 2014 France Silver
Château Sainte Roseline Lampe De Medusa Cru Classé 2014 France Silver
Alpha Estate Alpha Estate Rose 2014 Greece Silver
Viña Maquis Marquis Rosé 2014 Chile Bronze
Foundations Marketing Group Amélia Bordeaux Rosé 2014 France Bronze
Vranken Pommery Domaine De Jarras – Commander In Jarras 2014 France Bronze

About the competition

The Rosé Masters is a competition created and run by the drinks business and an extension of its successful Masters series for Champagne, Rioja and fortified wine, as well as its Global Masters series for major international grape varieties such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The competition is exclusively for rosé and the entries were judged blind by a selection of highly experienced tasters using Schott Zwiesel Cru Classic White Burgundy glasses supplied by Wine Sorted. The top rosés were awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze medals according to their score, and those that stood out as being outstanding received the ultimate accolade – the title of Rosé Master. The rosés were tasted over the course of one day at the private dining room within Brasserie Blanc on Charlotte Street in London.

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