A dozen English rosés to try during English Wine WeekBy Lucy Shaw
Gusbourne Cherry Garden Rosé 2019 (£25)
Gusbourne in Kent makes one of the most exciting and high quality Pinot Noirs in England, so it figures that the estate’s rosé game would be strong too. The new addition to the portfolio is crafted from select parcels of Pinot from Gusbourne’s Cherry Garden vineyard in Appledore. The pale pink single vineyard rosé is delicate in character, with notes of wild strawberry, stone fruits and violets. A follow-up to the estate’s debut vintage last year, according to winemaker Charlie Holland, the 2019 rosé is a pink with “indulgent texture and poise”.
Simpsons Railway Hill Rosé 2018 (£17)
One of the most prettily packaged English rosés out there, this pale pink from Simpsons in Kent looks like it comes by way of Provence. Made at Simpsons estate just outside Canterbury from Pinot Noir grown on chalky soils, this peachy pink has a creamy texture and flavours of wild strawberry, tart pink grapefruit, redcurrant, nectarine and lychee, and pairs a treat with poached salmon. Clean, fresh and mouthwatering, it gets its texture from time on lees. Opened by Ruth and Charles Simpson in 2016, Simpsons allowed the Taittinger team to press some of the first grapes from its English vineyard, Domaine Evremond, at the estate. We wonder if Clovis went down the slide?
Hattingley Valley Still Rosé 2019 (£14)
Earlier this year Hampshire estate Hattingley Valley released its first still wines onto the market. Among them was this pretty ballet shoe pink rosé made using the saignée method from Pinot Noir Précoce from Kent and Berkshire. The grapes were slowly whole-bunch pressed to allow the colour to bleed from the skins, then fermented in stainless steel to preserve the wine’s purity of fruit. According to winemaker Emma Rice, the creamy rosé offers notes of “strawberry, peach, white blossom and a hint of flint spiced up by a pinch of white pepper and bitter lime peel”.
Blackbook I’d Rather be a Rebel Rosé 2018 (£17.50)
Boasting one of the coolest labels in town, this juicy drop is the creation of husband and wife duo Sergio and Lynsey Verrillo, and is made at their urban winery under a railway arch in Battersea from Pinot Noir from Crouch Valley vineyard in Essex. Passionate about making minimum intervention wines, the grapes were cold soaked then whole-bunch pressed and fermented with indigenous yeast in old Burgundy barrels for eight months. The result is “an expressive and textured dry rosé with aromas of strawberries and cream, ripe red cherry and crushed raspberry”.
Hush Heath Nanette’s Rosé 2019 (£18)
Founded by former Liberty London owner, Richard Balfour-Lynn, Hush Health in Kent has long been a champion of rosé, choosing to make a hero of it in the estate’s flagship fizz. Hush Heath also produces exemplary still rosés, including one made in collaboration with former cricketer Sir Ian Botham. Nanette’s rosé is named after Balfour-Lynn’s youngest daughter from a blend of Regent, Dornfelder, Pinot Noir, Meunier, Chardonnay and Bacchus. At just 11.5% AVB, Richard describes it as “English summer in a bottle”, due to its notes of fresh strawberries, green apple and hints of thyme and rosemary. It makes a lovely partner for lobster, or prawn cocktail if you’re going retro.
Albury Estate Silent Pool Rosé 2018 (£18.75)
The rosé from Albury Vineyard, a small, family-run biodynamic estate in the Surrey Hills, has royal pedigree, having been served on the Royal Barge to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Housed in a tall, thin bottle often used for Rieslings, the barely there pink is made from a blend of Pinot Noir and Meunier. Only 9,000 bottles of the 2018 vintage were made. According to owner Nick Wenman, the pink is “extremely expressive with notes of quince, crunchy red berries, strawberry and citrus fruits that add to the long, thirst-quenching finish.” Wenman planted Albury Vineyard in 2009 after retiring from the IT industry to pursue his dream of running a wine estate with his daughter Lucy.
Oxney English Pinot Noir Rosé 2018 (£16.99)
A new addition to Waitrose’s bountiful English and Welsh wine range, featuring over 110 locally made wines, this rosé from Oxney in Beckley, East Sussex, is made from pure Pinot Noir. According to its maker, the copper coloured rosé is “delicate yet expressive with lifted notes of freshly cut strawberries and redcurrant”. On the palate the pink is “generous and fruit forward, combining great texture with a crisp finish”. Six miles north of Rye, the organic Oxney estate is run by Kristin Syltevik and Paul Dobson, who have 14 hectares under vine and make wine in an oast house.
Renegade The Jock English Rosé 2018 (£19)
Proving just how popular pink wine is these days, urban winery Renegade in Bethnal Green makes one. Called The Jock, it’s named after a fruit seller in Borough Market who has worked his patch for over 50 years at his Stark and Sons stall. The pale pink is made from a blend of 40% Pinot Meunier and 60% Pinot Noir from Hampshire and Herefordshire. The Pinot is whole-bunch pressed and 40% barrel fermented, and went through malo with minimal sulphur. The result is a delicate, structured rosé with zippy acidity and notes of summer berries and orange blossom.
Bolney Lychgate Rosé 2018 (£14.99)
Based in Sussex, Bolney Estate’s cherry red rosé immediately stands out, being far bolder and darker than the rosés often produced in England that tap into the love of pale Provençal pinks. But dark doesn’t necessarily mean sweet, and this juicy drop, made from a blend of Rondo, Pinot Noir, Meunier and Dornfelder, is bursting with notes of strawberry, red apple, gooseberry and raspberry. Winemaker Sam Linter whole-bunch pressed the grapes, then cold fermented them for two weeks. Its vanilla fudge undertone makes it a magnificent match for tangy blue cheese.
Lyme Bay Pinot Noir Rosé 2018 (£17.99)
Hailing from Devon’s Lyme Bay estate in the Axe Valley, which boasts 26,000 vines, this copper hued rosé is made entirely from Pinot Noir from a single vineyard. Described as a “serious, full-bodied” rosé, it offers aromas of cherries, rosehip, cranberry, rhubarb, strawberries and cream. Its tightly coiled acidity and long length make it a versatile food wine. In addition to wine Lyme Bay also produces cider, meads and liqueurs.
Bluebell Vineyard Ashdown Rosé (£15)
Winning the prize for the prettiest winery name, Bluebell Vineyard is nestled among the fields of Uckfield in Sussex. Its refreshing onion skin hued rosé is made from a blend of Pinot Noir and Merlot, leading to a “bone dry, fruit forward” drop with notes of wild strawberry, cranberry, rhubarb and violets, a creamy mouthfeel and a long finish. Its makers suggest either enjoying it as an apéritif or pairing it with salted almonds, smoked duck and cured meats. “2018 delivered fruit of exceptional quality with a great concentration of sugars and fruit flavours,” the estate said.
Westwell Ortega Rosé 2018 (£15)
Located on the chalk slopes at the foot of the North Downs in Kent, Westwell Wine Estate’s rosé is made predominantly from white grape Ortega, which is blended with ripe Pinot Noir to add “notes of bright red crunchy fruit”. To retain freshness and purity of fruit, the Ortega is fermented in stainless still at a cool temperature. The result is a salmon pink rosé with notes of wild strawberries, honeysuckle, redcurrants, melon and a twist of white pepper on the finish. Its label features an illustration of a cross section of the estate’s Ortega vine wood.