We’re over the tired trope of giving a bunch of red roses every year on 14 February. They don’t last very long; sure they smell nice, but they only smell like one thing, where’s the complexity? And they don’t taste very nice either, on their own at least.
So every year for the February/March issue, the Gourmet Traveller WINE team tastes through new release rosés in preparation for Valentine’s Day. It’s a painstaking task; we sipped and spat through 72 rosés that are currently available in Australia.
The rosé on offer in 2019 seemed different to previous years’ tastings. The Australians were noticeably drier, but also more complex than usual. Regions from around the country were represented, showing that this phenomenon is happening everywhere.
Provence is in danger of being knocked off the top spot. There was a surprise entry from Rioja, Spain, but France still dominated among the imports. We think this bunch is the best yet.
2019 Bondar Grenache Rosé, McLaren Vale, A$28
Andre and Selina Kelly make one of the country’s classiest rosés year in, year out, but the 2019 may just be their best yet. Made with grenache from their Rayner vineyard, it offers restrained strawberry, cranberry and citrus blossom aromas with a lush, creamy palate framed by crunchy phenolics, peppery acidity and an intensely dry finish.
2017 Château de l’Aumérade L’Origine Rosé, Côtes de Provence, France, A$30
The second label from the Fabre family of Provence, who has an astounding 300 hectares under vine in the region, 80 of which is Cru Classé. This one has forest berry, Redskin lolly/raspberry confectionery and strawberries and cream aromas leading to a complex palate of sweet and sour elements with strawberries and cream, caramel biscuit and abundant red fruits. Very moreish and excellent value for money.
2019 Cullen Dancing in the Moonlight Rosé, Margaret River, A$25
We can picture ourselves dancing on a moonlit night with a glass or two of this cabernet-based rosé. Impressive aromatics of ocean spray, cool red and purple fruits, tomato bush, red capsicum and pink peppercorn lead to a creamy palate with fruit sweetness balanced by a core of saline minerality, with notes of sap and fresh, umami-laden tomato. The finish is long, with red fruits and tomato bush clinging on right to the very end.
2017 Domaine Les Pallières Au Petit Bonheur Gigondas AOC, Rhône Valley, France, A$42
From the famed Brunier family of Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe comes this rosé made with an even amount of grenache/cinsaut/clairette sourced from the Gigondas appellation of southern Rhône. Aromas of sour red berries, strawberries and cream, honey, vanilla yoghurt and blood orange. The palate core is sweet with vanilla bean undertones and subtle but attractive residual sugar sweetness. Superfine tannins build gradually around a driving saline acidity. Complex and delicious.
2018 Domaine Tempier Rosé, Bandol, France, A$60
A stand out every year from the iconic Peyraud family. The 2018 Tempier has intense, deep aromas of tomato bush, barbecue smoke, grilled pineapple and tropical fruits. A beautiful core of fruit that is savoury in nature, mouthfilling and so full of flavour with mouth-watering acidity. As refreshing as it is satisfyingly rich – a rosé dialled up to 11.
2019 Domenica Nebbiolo Rosé, Beechworth, A$25
Winemaker Peter Graham is one of Australia’s nebb masters and his rosé version is no exception. We often think of rosé being fruity by nature but this sits more in the floral spectrum with lifted perfumes of white and purple flowers. The palate is crisp and savoury with small red berries, dried herbs and spices, lemon zest and crisp acidity rounded out by energetic, drying tannins. Acid forward and citrus-led finish with red apple skin.
2019 Gundog Estate Indomitus Rosa, Hilltops, A$40
Made with nebbiolo sourced from the Freeman vineyards in Hilltops, NSW, this energetic wine shows black (Ribena-esque) and red berry (raspberry, cranberry) aromas with citrus and a vibrant undergrowth character underpinned by floral notes. It’s savoury and moreish with a faint line of blackcurrant flavour, a fantastic steely texture, crisp phenolics, and a long and drying finish. Very well done.
2018 Honorio Rubio Tremendus Clarete, Rioja, Spain, A$27
Not your typical Rioja wine, this is made from viura (macabeo) and garnacha (grenache) and spends a week on gross lees, and then six to nine months on fine lees. Bold and big aromas of charcuterie, anise and cassis. The palate is redolent of spiced red fruits, tomato leaf, smoky barbecue sauce and charcuterie. It’s gorgeously textured with a deliciously long finish. A very cool, surprising avant-garde wine out of Rioja.
2018 Fontanet Les Terrasses Rosé, Languedoc-Roussillon, A$16
This is tremendous value for money, currently delivered directly from World Wine Estates through Dan Murphy’s. Vanilla bean yoghurt, molassesy peanut butter and honey aromas with a slight funk of blue cheese. It’s nutty and creamy in texture, with a sweet and sour off-dry palate of honey and sweet red fruits. It’s got lovely spice and a saline, drying finish. Mouthwatering and delicious.
2018 Liv Zak Rosé, Yarra Valley, A$25
The 'daughter' label of Warramunda Estate, named after the daughter of owners Robert and Irene Magdziarz, Olivia. This pinot noir rosé is intensely varietal with undergrowth, cherry stone and strawberry aromas underpinned by savoury whole-bunch complexities. The texture is wildly rich with beautiful pinot acidity and crisp, red fruit tannins. Almost like biting into a fresh, slightly underripe cherry.
2019 Manners Rosé of Sangiovese, Mudgee, A$20
Winemaker James Manners takes his rosé very seriously and has become somewhat renowned for his version championing Italy’s most widely planted grape variety. Subtle aromas of blood orange, strawberry, dried herbs and vanilla bean lead to a cool, refined palate with sweet fruit tempered by a mouth-wateringly salty ocean spray-like character. A wine more about texture than flavour.
2019 Patina Rosé, Orange, A$25
From the volcanic slopes of Mount Canobolas comes this stunning blend of cab franc, chardonnay, merlot, pinot noir and riesling. Strawberries and cream notes are emphasised by fresh citrus notes and a mineral, wet stone character. Incredible texture and dangerously easy to drink, it has refreshment written all over it.