Wine consultants and writers, Liz Gabay MW and Sumita Sarma came together on instalive talk show “I LOVE ROCK ‘N’ ROSÉ” during New Zealand wine week to showcase interesting and diverse mix of rosé wines, now available internationally. Despite delaying for a few days, Liz still did not have the wines during the chat due to delivery issues, but was able to taste the wines once they finally arrived.

See our instalive chat here #iloverocknrosé

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Developing regional and national styles of rosé around the world initially focus styles on the red varieties available locally. With a clear New Zealand image of freshness and purity of fruit being a perfect start for New Zealand rosés, it was obvious that we would see vibrant Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah rosés.

But New Zealand is also proving to be highly innovative. Since 2009, it has been forbidden within the EU to make rosé by blending white and red wines (red and white juice can be blended before fermentation.) But Sauvignon Blanc is also an emblematic variety for New Zealand. So maybe it should come as no surprise to see that one of the emerging distinct rosé categories that is gaining momentum is the “Sauvignon Blush”.

Sauvignon Blush are rosé wines made from Sauvignon Blanc with a small addition of red grape to add colour and flavour.Liz noted that the first time she tried Sauvignon Blush four years ago, it was a mental challenge – it smelled and largely tasted of Sauvignon Blanc but looked pink.

Liz and Sumi talk also talk about low alcohol rosé wines, which are witnessing growing demand internationally.

Coming from the Southern Hemisphere, these wines have the advantage of being particularly fresh and vibrant, but already opening up, in the winter months of the Northern hemisphere.

The wines showcased and discussed were:

Mud House Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Blush 2020

In the UK this wine is available at Tesco, Majestic and ASDA at £9.

Sumi

Very pale, nearly water like with an orange hue. With pronounced lime and apricot notes on the front of the palate, the wine also displays the herbaceous underlying typicity of Sauvignon Blanc and a hint of red cherry that comes from a small amount of Pinot Noir that gives it a blush colour. The acidity is super fresh and racy and the palate is delicate and lean. A great way to introduce rosé wines for consumers who are weary of rosé category or may want to try something different. This wine brings an innovative twist to the Sauvignon Blanc grape that has now become the mainstay of New Zealand. An attractive wine to pair as an aperitif with cheese and summer starter salads.

Liz

This wine was the palest in colour and the most delicate of the four rosés and has the smallest quantity of red wine added.. A distinctive crisp freshness with gentle Sauvignon mineral herbaceous character with a touch of cherry fruit. For those who need to mentally adjust to the idea of a pink Sauvignon Blanc, this is a great starter.

Villa Maria Sauvignon Blush 2020

In the UK, this wine is available at ASDA and Morrisons at £9.50.

Sumi

Addition of 10% Merlot to Sauvignon Blanc wine gives the wine its tempting pale pink colour and flavours. Showing upfront lemon, apple blossom and sun kissed apricot notes along with red cherry juiciness, Merlot not only adds the red fruit spectrum and colour but also a textural complexity that makes this wine very food friendly, making it pair worthy with Grilled chicken, Prosciutto flatbreads and Tacos.

Liz

A gorgeously flamboyant example of Sauvignon Blush, full of exotic, ripe fruit. Passion fruit, mango and a little grassy gooseberry note in the background. The Merlot is also evident with hints of violets, sour cherry and dark fruit through the inner core of the wine, making this clearly a rosé. The 6g/l of sugar is well balanced by the fine, slightly chalky acidity, and adds to the ripe fullness of fruit. Quite a serious wine with a surprising amount of depth.

Yealands Sauvignon Blanc Blush 2020

Available to buy from Waitrose at £10

Sumi

With Sauvignon Blanc fruits being picked from Awatere and Wairau Valley the wine also has 4% Syrah that adds in structural complexity yet retaining its easy drinking appeal. The lime and lemony grassy flavours of Sauvignon Blanc are tamed by the hint of spice and red cherry and plum flavours of Syrah. A brilliant creation by winemaker Natalie Christensen, the Syrah also lends pale and attractive pink colour making it a wine pretty pink. A wine that is easy to sip on its own or pair with summer starters, equally with light autumnal recipes such as grilled Portobello mushrooms; the hint of spice and pepper, gives the wine an added lift to its fruit flavours.

Liz

A very different take on Sauvignon Blush with a greater emphasis on the grassy, gooseberry fruit and the exotic fruit taking a back seat. Elegant mineral structure with very pretty floral (including elderflower) notes gives a pleasing complexity. The ripe gooseberry fruit is balanced by long crisp citrus acidity subtle layers of orange, grapefruit, and lime. The red fruit character is less evident, but does give a subtle, darker fruit weight in mid palate

The Doctors’ Rose 2020

Available at Waitrose £7.99

Sumi

Made from Pinot Noir with a small addition of Arneis, this wine has 9.5% abv classified as low alcohol and created by Dr Forrest a neuroscientist, using viticultural craftsmanship to harvest ripe grapes at low Brix. Using stomatal photosynthetic abilities, he has worked years on his research to bring down sugar accumulation in the grapes, thereby lowering potential alcohol levels but not allowing flavour development to slip through. The addition of a small amount of Arneis balances out acidity, adding texture while Pinot Noir lends freshness and ripe red cherries and strawberry fuelled aromatics. Well-crafted wine that is easy to sip and savour. With a massive bonus of low alcohol levels. A must to try for the health savvy wine consumer!

Liz

Making a balanced low alcohol wine is a feat in itself, so this wine is already an achievement. Made as a classic rosé with direct press from Pinot Noir and a percentage of Arneis, naturally lower in alcohol. Ripe gentle cherry fruit, a little bitter cherry, some white chocolate and raspberry magnum ice cream before circling back to dark, gentle, supple cherries. Crisp slightly chalky citrus acidity. The low 9.5% alcohol is not glaringly obvious, but does make it very easy going, while the sugar keeps the fruit ripe and gentle.

What is next for New Zealand rosé wines? The clear emphasis on the New Zealand fruit style made them distinctive, and we were very impressed with the innovation and regional personality showing even in this mini tasting. For Liz, the future for premium rosé lies in creative wine making, using wild yeast and different styles of ageing methods to demonstrate complexity but also to bring out the character of the terroir.