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Winner Details


Contradictory ideas about rosé made this a complex category to judge, though one that, nonetheless, threw up a good selection of medal winners


If you want to start a fight among sommeliers, then on this evidence you should lock them in a room and ask them what they want rosé to do on a wine list. There were as many opinions, frankly, as tasters, with some of the ‘rosé needs to be simple and accessible for Tracey from the typing pool’ persuasion, others firmly of the belief that it absolutely MUST have a bit of food credibility, and any number of positions in between.

Maybe it would be easier to ask producers to make wines called ‘Food rosé’ and ‘Glug rosé’, then our tasters would know what they were looking for. Just a thought. Wine industry, you can have that idea for free…

It is probably these question marks over the category’s function, rather than dubious quality, that explains why so many of the hopeful wines that entered the great SWA Rosé Party this year were shown the door before they’d even got their coat off. With entries well up on last year you would expect the medal count to be higher than in 2011; in fact, last year saw four Golds, four Silvers and three Bronzes, whereas this year we had fewer Golds and Silvers (two and three respectively) and seven Bronzes.

Anyway, since most of the wines came from France, Spain and Italy (the most expensive one sent in, incidentally, came from Kent – though it didn’t trouble the scorers), it was no surprise to see nearly all the medals staying in Europe as well.

Stylistically, this section had a broad variety of styles (and colours!) and our tasters were able to use that to their advantage.

‘Rosé should be easy, fun, immediately enjoyable and there should be several on the list,’ said Roganic’s Sandia Chang. ‘The selection that worked best was off-dry styles at the entry level and then rosé with a little more complexity for food higher up, but still an easy-going wine.’

Certainly, the two on the Gold List were very different, from the soft, more brightly coloured but well-structured Bestué Rosado from Somontano ticking the ‘drink on its own or with food’ box, and the paler, more restrained Château Gassier, more a ‘drink with food or on its own’ wine.

Do you appreciate the difference? Rosé is very subtle…

Though not half as subtle as a lot of the Provence Rosés which were memorably described by Bread Street Kitchen's Nigel Lister as ‘having been through a de-flavouriser’. Yet when the region got it right, the final result was sublime.

‘The Château Gassier was a classy wine, very well-structured, with a long, long finish,’ said consultant Frédéric Jean-Yves Billet. ‘It’s just really well balanced, with lots going on and not rough around the edges.’

‘There is such a fashion for rosé I think it is essential to have a good Provencal rosé on the list to offer something light, supple and delicate to balance the richer styles available.’ Laura Ward, Vivat Bacchus