I aimed high, I really did. I wanted a snapshot of good new release rosé for your spring drinking pleasure. But, there were so many big misses that I couldn’t even muster words for.
Rosé isn’t hard to get right technically (or at least that’s what the good winemakers say), but there are so many junk wines in this category. My favourite wines here have flavour, but typically have softer acidity, more texture and real vitality.
Here then are the 10 best rosé of spring 2021 (interspersed with a little mediocrity for good measure).
Longview Juno Nebbiolo Rosato 2021
The leader of Australian rosé does it again. The joy of this Adelaide Hills Nebbiolo rosato is twofold – a) the acidity isn’t sharp, which is the first trap of most local pink wine. B) there is more than one flavour here. I like it. A little nettle and herbs this vintage, along with subtle raspberry, mandarin citrus and tight acidity. The pink grapefruit peaks out through the middle to give flavour and then the finish has enough phenolic crunch. Enjoyable plus.
Best drinking: now. 18/20, 93/100. 13%, $26. Longview website. Would I buy it? Yes.
Mérite Rosé 2021
No one in Australia takes Merlot as seriously as Mike Kloak & Colleen Miller. Their work on Merlot clones is something to be applauded. Now, they’ve turned out a first-ever rosé and it’s very good. It’s a saignee Merlot rosé, from their plot in Wrattonbully, the grapes early picked, but as Colleen says ‘not a lick of green’. 3g/L residual, so almost undetectable, and a pH of 3.22, the mode more about just-ripe fruit.. My frame here is more the good Loire Rosé wines, but there is more roundness and none of Franc’s herbs. Indeed, there is this gentle red fruit to the point when you expect it to be sweet. But it’s not. The finish seems softer, with more creamed raspberries, even though it was matured in tank, not barrel. Crucially it’s ripe fruit, without being heavy, that drives this. Rosé for grown-ups.
Best drinking: now. 17.7/20, 92/100. 13.2%, $24. Merite website. Would I buy it? Yes.
Tim Smith Wines Rosé 2021
‘I said I’d never make a rosé. Then the right vintage comes along, as well as a bit of convincing from good friends. The first release is 100% Mataro, and is dry and savoury. Chill it, drink it. Just never say never though’
That’s Tim Smith on this new rosé. Tim is harsh on this wine, and he shouldn’t be. A sophisticated rosé that would not be out of place in Bandol. Like all Tim’s wines the texture is excellent, the pale pink grapefruit and not harsh acidity making this a delicious drink. Well done.
Best drinking: now. 17.7/20, 92/100. 12.5%, $25. Tim Smith Wines website. Would I buy it? Worth a bottle.
Juxtaposed Rosé 2021
Wes Pearson’s considered rosé was another winner here, with this fuller, rosato style, built around young vine McLaren Vale Shiraz fruit a frontrunner. It’s more red than pink wine, and a little oak maturation serves to round the edges (which I very much like). Dry, but backed by red cordial fruit to fill out the palate (I say red cordial but it’s dry not sweet) and fuller flavoured heading towards light red. Real character here.
Best drinking: now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13%. $29. Juxtaposed website. Would I buy it? A few glasses at least.
Marchand & Burch Villages Rosé 2021
With apologies to the Burch family, I had this in a blind lineup and scored it at a bronze medal, yet after a retaste and closer look it’s a solid silver. Wine judges are idiots, clearly. Anyway, this is a blend of either Shiraz and Grenache, Pinot Noir and Grenache or Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris (the winery website can’t decide). Sourced, I think, from Great Southern, Margaret River. Firmly in the Provencal style here, with light colours, well handled red apple fruits, prominent acidity and freshness. A suggestion of some lees and barrel work to flesh out the palate, the result smart and drinkable.
Best drinking: now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 12.6%, $28. Marchand & Burch website. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
The Little Wine Co. Sangiovese Rosé 2021
Rosato-style Hunter Valley rosé with character. Despite the dry palate and light colour this has recognisable varietal fruit. Some summer berries! It threatens to be juicy also, but the finish is tight and crisp. This has personality and flavour, even if it’s not profound.
Best drinking now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.5%, $24. Little Wine Co. website. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
Small Victories Wine Co. Rosé 2021
Brand new Barossa rosé from Bec & Jules Ashmead. With its salmon coloured edgy label it feels very contemporary and a competently made wine it is too. Crunchy Grenache (which I guessed, as no varietal on the label – turns out some Mataro in the mix too) in a dry, pale, straightforward package of good intensity and shape. It’s missing an extra layer beyond the pink grapefruit, but drinkability is high and the right balance is struck between crunch and fruit. Good.
Best drinking: now. 17/20, 90/100. 13%, $25. Small Victories Wine Co. website. Would I buy it? A glass or so.
Tahbilk Grenache Mourvedre Rosé 2021
Bright pink, and carries more body than plenty of rosé, this is full of bright pink fruit and has a vinosity to it, but it’s just a little jubey with acidity that isn’t quite seamless. Commercially sound and has good intensity though. The picture of an ‘almost’ wine.
Best drinking: now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13%, $21.50. Tahbilk website. Would I buy it? Not quite.
Angullong Fossil Hill Rosé 2021
Sangiovese rosé from Orange. Gently fruity, simply sweet. It’s just a bit too sweet-fruited to be delicious. Drink ice cold on a hot day and it might work. The finish is bright enough but the balance isn’t quite nailed.
Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12%, $28. Angullong website. Would I buy it? No.
Lambert Estate First Kiss Rosé 2021
No grape variety noted, but Barossa Valley fruit. Bright, pink fruited rosé with simple juiciness. It’s solid commercial pink, with good drinkability but that first flourish of ruby red grapefruit is the best thing about it before it falls away. It’s ok.
Best drinking: now. 16/20, 86/100. 13%, $25.95. Lambert Estate. Would I buy it? No.
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