Australian rosé comes of age

Australian rosé comes of age

Just a decade ago one of Australia’s least desirable wine styles was rosé. In fact, our rosés were all over the place in both quality and style. Some wines had the traditional pale pink rosé colour while others were deep purple; a few rosés were interesting and dry but most were simple and full of sugar, the sweetness usually present to mask tart, poor quality wines. Rosé was boring and consumers just weren’t interested in it. For their part winemakers generally treated the style with disdain – rosé was an afterthought or something to do with poor quality grapes.

Today rosé is all the rage, so what happened?

Firstly, consumer tastes changed. When Aussies travelled to Spain, Portugal, Italy or the south of France they found that the locals would be sipping on a cool glass of rosé over lunch on a hot summer’s day. And, lo and behold, the wines were good – made from quality fruit, generally dry, perhaps with a little savouriness and highly drinkable! Back home Australians started looking for the same experience and, disappointed with the local offering, started buying imported rosés.

Well, there’s nothing like a market opportunity to focus the minds of Australian winemakers. Over a relatively short period of time the quality of local rosés moved ahead in leaps and bounds, driven by better fruit selection and more sophisticated winemaking. And there is more diversity. The gorgeous fruitiness of pinot noir and grenache make for beautiful rosés but Italian varieties such as sangiovese and nebbiolo are also excelling in more savoury styles. Beautiful wines ideal for the Australian summer.

At Colmar Estate we aimed high with rosé right from our first vintage in 2014 by using only A-grade fruit – hand-picked pinot noir from our Block 3. Pristine fruit, picked at perfection, can be fermented to dryness and result in a delicious, well-balanced wine, without the need for any residual sugar to cover up shortcomings.

More recently, we have sought to build some texture into our rosé as we want our wines to feel good in the mouth as well as taste good. This is a winemaking challenge and addressed by maturing a portion of our rosé in seasoned French puncheons. These older barrels allow in a little oxygen which fills out the wine and builds mouthfeel. Whereas maturation exclusively in stainless steel can yield a rosé that’s a bit frisky and shrill, some time in barrels yields wines that are more relaxed and oh so drinkable.

Try our 2022 Pinot Rosé and you’ll get the idea.