Expert’s choice: Premium Rosé

Complexity is possible in rosés, notably those from southeast France, but can a price-tag of £15 or more ever be justified? Yes it can, says Elizabeth Gabay MW.

Is premium rosé (above £15) a contradiction in terms? Should rosé be fresh and simple, not complex, weighty or oak-aged? The modern Provençal style is regarded by many as the benchmark of good rosé, but it has not always been so. Over the past 30 years, Provençal rosé has evolved from dark pink and powerful to pale, dry and fresh, and designed for easy drinking.

Early attempts at more complex rosés were clunky, as producers tried to combine the simple, fresh style with greater weight and longevity, but recent years have shown great improvements. Until 2006 no one imagined that rosé would sell for more than £50, but Sacha Lichine’s investment and success at Château d’Esclans in Provence has inspired others to aim high. Riedel’s launch of a rosé glass earlier this year is another sign that it is being taken more seriously.

Château Brown, Bordeaux 2014

Largely Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with a hint of Petit Verdot. This wine has both the ripe berry fruit...


The range of colours on display in this tasting was gorgeous, ranging from pale red to off-white, illustrating the challenge of choosing by colour. Paleness is traditionally regarded as an indication of quality, with orange tones suggesting oxidation and darker rosés a weak red wine. But colour has little relation to quality, and can be a clue to the variety: Grenache often has hints of salmon, Syrah is blue-pink and Cabernet pale red.

This tasting proved that rosés can be complex, but that price alone does not indicate quality. Once a sceptic, I am now excited by the quality and variety on offer, though I still struggle to justify a price of over £30.

These wines were chosen from a tasting in May of 36 premium rosés organised by Richard Bampfield MW and Jean-Christophe Mau of Château Brown.