In search of a full-bodied rosé

A few months back I asked readers to let me know what they drink when they celebrate something, perhaps a house-warming, birthday or marriage.

Gil Lewis of Tokai says celebrations take place with merlot and shiraz. Good chardonnay is hard to come by without spending lots of money.

However, Gil was still looking for a good “full bodied” rosé.

Was this a reference to the taste or to a buxom person serving wine? I did some research on the internet and with my feet, actually by car.

Rosé is an international success story. Once known as a sweetish girly drink, it is now acceptably dry, often fruity and goes well with sunsets and swimming pools.

In Britain, summer sales have grown due to the popularity of a drink called frosé – an icy sweet slush made by freezing rosé with lemon juice and sugar. As for men, those who drink rosé are calling themselves brosés.

And guess what, in recent years Britain has been importing more South African rosé than from any other country. A whopping 84 percent of Cape rosé leaves these shores.

More good news is that rose is more likely to solve your problems than create them. It’s easy-going; the sort of drink to sip on long-winded lunches with the in-laws. And even better, it goes with a wide range of foods for your Banting and vegan friends.

But the big question is what to buy. Rosé colours can range from the palest blush to full-bloom azalea. The answer is not to be put off by a darker rose. It does not necessarily mean it will be too sweet.

As for a full bodied rosé, Google says that syrah goes well with bold flavoured food and has more of a ruby red colour than a blush pink. Like other rosés, this style delivers a mouthful of fresh summer fruits like cherries and strawberries with savoury hints, combining with the pepperiness that syrah grapes typically offer.

Searching my wine rack, I found a lone bottle of Wildekrans Lunch Ladies rosé 2011. Chilled and cracked, its pale cherry-red colour and berry flavours did not disappoint.

At the Book Lounge I tasted Leopard’s Leap Chardonnay Pinot Noir. This 70/30 blend bursts with citrus from the chardonnay complemented by red fruitiness of the pinot noir.

Deciding to explore locally I started in the Constantia valley to find a handful of farms producing rosé.

Buitenverwachting makes an easy-drinking 2017 Blanc De Noir by removing the skins from the juice after the red grapes have been pressed. It is made from pinot noir grapes.

Steenberg’s Ruby Rosé 2017 is a blend of syrah and cinsault 51/49%.

Klein Constantia produces a cabernet franc rosé in a blanc de noir style as part of their easy-drinking range.

Not available at the cellar for tasting, they said full-bodied rosé is not a style that lends itself to this wine and would normally be found in a box, tending to be sweet, and possibly found in Robertson. Oh ho!

By coincidence I was meeting a group of friends in Bonnievale that weekend and stopped in this winemaking heaven to try the co-operatives’ rosé. Sharing a bottle that night they raised eyebrows and gave it a thumbs up, certifying it as non-sweet.

On another road trip recently I tried Sijnn’s Saignee, a blend of mourvedre 42%, syrah 37% and trincadeira 21%.

Sijnn is located between Malagas and Cape Infanta and feels like the bottom of Africa in terroir where grapes thrive in extreme conditions.

The Saignee method involves bleeding off roughly 10 percent of the juice from red grapes which is then fermented into rosé, while the rest is turned into red wine.

Sijnn’s Saignee is not offered as a rosé but could be considered a very light, scarcely-tannined red with the wine made from the “bled off” juice from their syrah-based red blends.

Groote Constantia have sold out of their rosé with the next batch expected in May. Pouring another wine, Graciella Whitehead says rosé goes well with Thai chicken, in fact anything spicy, and with pork, chicken, and fish, including smoked salmon.

“They say not with red meat but it goes well with beef Carpaccio. It’s possibly the most versatile wine when it comes to pairing with food,” she says.

Graciella adds that it’s a good wine to serve at a celebration because of the festive colour and goes well with gammon or turkey.

Make it look even better by serving the wine in a glass with a strawberry garnish (they are in season now).

Susan Pike says the alcohol
level is usually lower than red or white wine, around 12.5% and therefore one can drink a bit
more than normal. And it is a
good alternative to a sparkling wine because it opens the taste buds. She adds that it must be chilled.