Australia's love affair with rosé shows no sign of waning - new pink wines are popping up all the time in bottle-shop fridges and on wine lists. We did a big rosé tasting only a couple of years ago, but since then the pink pool has grown so much that we thought we'd plunge back in.
More Australian winemakers than ever are jumping on the pale, dry rosé bandwagon, taking all kinds of red grapes - from pinot to shiraz to nebbiolo - and turning them into gentle-hued, perfumed and wonderfully savoury wines.
More imported rosés than ever are jostling for attention. Shipments to Australia of Provence rosé alone rose by 127 per cent last year, and you can now find rosés from every corner of the globe here, including Portugal, Turkey, Germany and Argentina.
A growing number of local winemakers, meanwhile, are expanding the whole concept of rosé, blurring the boundaries between dark-pink and light-red wines. Some do this by blending white grapes and red grapes, taking bizarre bedfellows such as cabernet and riesling, and fermenting them together with unexpectedly terrific results. Others are exploring the pink potential of pinot meunier and pinot gris. Both are dark-skinned grapes but you think of them as white-wine grapes because traditionally only their clear-coloured juice is fermented. If, however, the winemaker ferments them skins and all - like a red wine - gris and meunier can produce lovely deep rosé styles.
It's a deep pool - pink wines now come in a deliciously diverse spectrum of colours and flavours, as you can see from the wines recommended here.
PINOT GRIS FERMENTED ON SKINS
From left: Airlie Bank Gris Fermented on Skins, Moorooduc Estate Pinot Gris on Skins
2017 Airlie Bank Gris Fermented on Skins, Yarra Valley, $22
A blend of whole-bunch and skins-fermented pinot gris, this wine has a pale copper colour, an enticing floral perfume and a snappy, crunchy quality. Like taking a firm, juicy grape and squeezing it between your tongue and the roof of your mouth until it pops. puntroadwines.com.au
2016 Moorooduc Estate Pinot Gris on Skins, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, $38
Fully ripe pinot gris grapes spent a week macerating and a week fermenting on skins before being pressed into barrel, resulting in a glowing crimson-coloured wine with heaps of pinot-noir-like berry flavour. Again, drink cool, not cold. moorooducestate.com.au
2017 Hoddles Creek Whole Bunch Fermented Pinot Gris, Yarra Valley, $22
Unlike the other bottles here, all of which are drinking really well right now, this very pale, blushcoloured wine is youthful and reserved. It could benefit from a year or two in the cellar to fully reveal all its complex aromatics and textures. hoddlescreekestate.com.au
BLENDS OF RED AND WHITE GRAPES
2017 Indomitus Rosa, Canberra District, $40
This is a wild-fermented blend of cabernet sauvignon and riesling, which sounds weird, but tastes wonderful. The cabernet brings gorgeous berry and herbal aromatics and the riesling brings grape-pulpy fruitiness and a lovely line of lively thirst-quenching citrus. gundogestate.com.au
2017 Logan Clementine Blushing Minnie Pinots, Orange, $25
Three pinots - noir, gris and meunier - blended to produce one of the most charming and seductive wines in the line-up. Such a pretty colour, such juicy cherry fruit flavours, so crunchy, smashable and delicious. Drink cool, but not cold. loganwines.com.au
2017 Brave New Wine Noon Shine, Great Southern, $32
One for lovers of the funk, this co-fermented blend of grenache and riesling is bursting with boisterous, youthful flavours of wild blackberry and exotic spice right now. But it's also a little prickly, with a hint of barnyard, and may get even funkier as it ages in the bottle. bravenewwine.com.au
2017 Ochota Barrels Texture Like Sun Red, Adelaide Hills, $35
Who'd have thought a multi-variety blend that includes pinot noir, gamay, gewürztraminer and shiraz (among other grapes) would taste so balanced, so harmonious and so damned good? Super-fresh, fine and silky, it's just gorgeous. ochotabarrels.com
PALE DRY ROSÉS THAT ARE LIGHT AND PRETTY
From left: Chalmers Rosato, Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Rosé, Dodgy Brothers Juxtaposed "Mr Furley" Pinot Meunier Rosé.
2017 Chalmers Rosato, Heathcote, $27
Despite being a blend of aglianico, sagrantino and nero d'Avola - all grapes originally from Italy's south and commonly used to make full-bodied, tannic red wines - this juicy, pale rosé is supple and savoury with a satisfying, creamy, gentle texture. chalmers.com.au
2016 Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Rosé, Pfalz, $21
There's some dissolved carbon dioxide in this wine, which gives it a little spritz - a slight prickle on the tongue that adds to the freshness and enjoyment. You probably didn't know they grew pinot noir in Germany, nor that they made pink wine from it. Now you do. Imported by cellarhand.com.au
2017 Dodgy Brothers Juxtaposed "Mr Furley" Pinot Meunier Rosé, Piccadilly Valley, Adelaide Hills, $25
This very pale, dry rosé is made from pinot meunier, a grape more commonly used to make sparkling wines. It's unfiltered and ever-so-slightly cloudy, but it's super-fresh and clean in the mouth, with sappy, nicely tart flavours of rosehip and dried herbs. dodgybrotherswines.com
2017 TarraWarra Pinot Noir Rosé, Yarra Valley, $25
Quintessential pale, dry rosé, displaying the barest hint of pink as it sits in the glass. Has delicate fresh floral scents that drift up into your nostrils and a gentle, subtle flavour of wild strawberry balanced by some crisp Fuji apple tang on the tongue. tarrawarra.com.au
PALE DRY ROSÉS THAT PACK A PUNCH
left: Château de Pibarnon, Nocturne Nebbiolo
2015 Le Rosé du Château de Pibarnon, Bandol, $71
Outstanding example of why Bandol in Provence is such a highly regarded rosé region. Complex, seductive scents of heady blossoms and stone fruit, gorgeous richness and presence. Crying out for bouillabaisse. The 2016 is due to land as we go to press. Imported by bibendum.com.au
2017 Nocturne Nebbiolo Rosé, Margaret River, $34
Don't be fooled by the pale colour. Once you take a sip and let the wine sit on your tongue, the grippy tannin and fresh acidity so typical of nebbiolo make their presence felt and make you hunger for fatty prosciutto and crusty bread. It also comes in a magnum. Distributed by cellarhand.com.au
2016 Coteaux Varois en Provence L'Apostrophe, $41
Most Provence rosés out there in bottle-shop land are light and frivolous, but this one, a blend of grenache, cinsault and carignan, has a bit more weight and is all the better for it, with gutsy, bold fruit flavours of wild hedgerow berries sprinkled with spice. Imported by wineandfoodsolutions.com
2017 Tommy Ruff Poolside Syrah, Barossa Valley, $32
With just 11 per cent alcohol and hardly any hue, this probably
isn't what you expect when you think Barossa shiraz. Don't worry -
it may be light on its feet, but it's got heaps of fleshy flavour.
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