As the clocks go forward this weekend and we are reminded that it’s time to replace the batteries in the smoke detectors, it’s also the time to think about stocking up the fridge for the long, warm evenings ahead.

Everything's rosé

12:26:PM 22/09/2011
Ben Thomas

As the clocks go forward this weekend and we are reminded that it’s time to replace the batteries in the smoke detectors, it’s also the time to think about stocking up the fridge for the long, warm evenings ahead.

At our place, it’s rosé that starts to take over the fridge about now.

While it’s always pink in colour, rosé is a chameleon of a wine and has the ability to suit a variety of occasions.

Styles vary from vibrant pink, sweet and bursting with ripe berry flavours great for picnics and barbecues, to pale, subtle and savoury drops that are great at the dinner table.

In the past, I reckon that choosing a rosé was a bit like a game of Russian roulette, though less lethal. The quality of the wines could be a bit hit and miss – but quality has reflected demand as the style has become more popular over the past few years and rosé in Australia has never been better.

Last year there was a determined push by many wineries under the Rosé Revolution banner to produce and promote rosé that had the three qualities that are the hallmarks of the best European styles – dry, savoury and textural.

These are serious wines, with the grapes specifically selected to make rosé (as opposed to many rosés that are actually a byproduct of red winemaking).

Interestingly, rosé can be, and is, made using a wide range of grapes.

From pinot noir to sangiovese and shiraz to grenache, rosé can show off some of the more subtle notes of these grapes that aren’t always seen when they’re a red.

The wines display myriad aromas and flavours, from summer berries and watermelon to citrus and heady Turkish delight notes (yep, really), and the best examples have a combination that continually draws you in for another sniff and a sip. They are generally fermented in old oak barrels and then left in situ to mature for a few months to achieve texture, a hint of tannin and complexity.

You can usually tell if a rosé has been treated in such a way – the time in barrel also allows the wine to gently oxidise, stripping away the vibrant pink colours to reveal a pale colour with a hue of salmon, light pink or onion skin.

These wines will be made so there is no underlying sweetness (known as residual sugar) and the flavour will be at the savoury end of the spectrum, making it a perfect wine to match with the food we eat in the warmer months.

This year’s Rosé Revolution kicks off on November 10 with “rosé soirées” and tweet-ups planned in Melbourne and around Australia.

Last year’s main event was a free tasting at Madame Brussels on Bourke Street, and plans are being made to try to improve what was one of the top tastings of last year.

» Check out for details about the kick-off party and educational rosé events throughout the summer. This revolution will be tweeted.

Taste this

Foster e Rocco Rosé 2011

(Heathcote) $27; 12.8%


I opened up a few rosés with friends recently – the way rosé should be consumed – and this was the group’s unanimous favourite. Complex aromas of citrus blossom, cherry, strawberry and Turkish delight lead to a fine mix of concentrated savoury, spice and berry flavours. It’s textural, with grippy tannins and citrus-flavoured acidity that’s dry and refreshing. The wine has pretty decent length for a rosé, with strawberry, rose petal and cinnamon flavours to the fore.

Food match Charcuterie platter

Mitchell-Harris Rosé 2011

(Pyrenees and Macedon Ranges) $21.95; 12.5%


A blend of pinot noir from Macedon and sangiovese from the Pyrenees, this is a top follow-up to the excellent 2010 vintage. It’s a light-pink colour and smells of bright summer berries, orange rind, cherry and spice. The flavours are mirrored on the palate, along with some savoury and an underlying citrus core. It’s dry and refreshing, with a fine line of zesty acid and a dry and chalky grip leading to tangerine and berry flavours in the long finish.

Food match Roast-chicken baguette

Ulithorne Epoch Rosé 2010

(Provence, France) $34; 12.5%


Made in Provence by McLaren Vale winemaker Rose Kentish, this blend of cinsault, grenache and mourvedre sits at the paler end of the rosé spectrum. With just a sniff, aomas of strawberry, blueberry, honeysuckle and citrus rind have the ability to transport the drinker to southern France. Flavours of cherry, spice, rosewater and cinnamon have an appealing savoury edge. It’s dry and crisp, with a nice chalky grip and a refreshing citrus and berry finish.

Food match Bouillabaise

Chapel Hill il Vescovo Sangiovese Rosé

(McLaren Vale) $22; 12.5%


The palest of the rosés I tasted through – it’s a watery pink, or blush – this is an exercise in subtlety. It has a complex bouquet of Turkish delight, citrus blossom, strawberry and raspberry. In the mouth, there are refreshing orange and lemon citrus, spice, rose petals, savoury and red-berry flavours that have drive but won’t overpower delicate food. A smooth texture is balanced by vibrant acid that leads to a spicy, savoury berry-flavoured finish.

Food match Vitello tonnato

Love a bargain?

TarraWarra Estate Pinot Noir Rosé 2010

(Yarra Valley) $20; 12.2%


If you visit the gallery (and tasting room, of course) at TarraWarra over summer, this is the wine I’d be grabbing to drink on the grass overlooking the vines afterwards. Dry, savoury and crisp, it ticks all the boxes of a modern rosé. It smells and tastes of strawberry, citrus, cherry, cinnamon and rose petals, with a hint of pinot noir’s forest characters.

A textural rosé, it has a fine tannic grip and good length. It was at its best with food.

Food match Rabbit rillettes

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