Here’s a line-up of lovely rosé sparklers just in time, as winter recedes and warmer weather takes over for you to try, tasted by the Sommelier India/Academie du Vin Panel
March 31 – The mono-tonal and gloomy winter is gone, and the bright, lively, and colourful summer has just set in. With the changing hues in the sky, it’s time to change our wines too. Sparkling rosé is the most fitting ambassador, indicating appropriately with its colour, the shift of seasons, and the celebratory festival Holi. It was in this spirit that the Sommelier India Tasting Panel filled its copas with a range of sparkling rosés in late March.
Nothing marks the arrival of summer the way sparkling rosés do. Pink, bubbles, red fruits, vibrant acidity, light, and playful, what’s not to like? They are simple and attractive and don’t require as much study as whites and reds before you come close to enjoying them. But that’s not to say they aren’t serious. Rosés are a magnificent way to study the play of grape varieties, winemakers’ techniques, cellaring, and natural influences. They’re just not nerdy and geeky. Their colours can vary from pale to very dark, and so can the weight. Two methods can be used to produce sparkling rosés – either bottle fermented in the Champagne/Classic method or they can be produced using the tank or Charmat method.
This is true for non-rosé sparkling wines too. However, in the case of rosé bubblies, the technique matters more than its varietals. Principally, bottle fermentation provides rather neutral wines with finer and numerous bubbles, crisp, high acidity, light body, and a serious personality. Since the wines are fermented in the bottle from which you’ll be pouring yourself a glass, the yeast dies after fermentation finishes and stays with the liquid. This process of yeast passing away and its slow breakdown is called ‘yeast autolysis’. It’s from this process that the wine achieves most of its flavours and a creamy texture. Brioche, biscuits, mushrooms, mustiness, and nuttiness to name a few. These are perhaps the most delectable flavours in a bottle-fermented bubbly and they add to the complexity of a wine. Champagnes and Cavas are prime examples.
Grapes with naturally high aromatically exuberant, ripe, and intense flavours are better kept away from the influence of autolysis. The idea with these varietals is to retain their natural essences while incorporating fizz into the scheme of things. This is where tank-fermentation process is best applicable. Wines are fermented in highly pressurised, temperature-controlled, closed tanks. As soon as the second fermentation finishes, and the yeast dies and the wines are bottled, retaining their freshness without any influence at all of yeast on the wine’s personality. This is how Prosecco and Asti are made.
Bottle-fermented wines are neutral, and higher in yeastiness and savoury notes, which makes them a better candidate for food pairings. Tank fermented bubblies are fruity, playful, and light, – – better enjoyed on their own, which is not to say that they fail when paired with food.
India is adding more and more sparkling rosés to its arsenal. Sula Vineyards has always had a good range of sparkling rosés, adding ‘Tropical’ to spice up their offering. York Vineyards and Fratelli Wines have also added some colour to the sparkling offerings after an initial white-only bubbly introduction. Grover Zampa has caught on to the trend with ‘Magnifique’, positioning it as a celebratory label. Chandon always had a sparkling rosé, which has only gotten more serious in its style over the years. Casablanca, and Frizzante, from Good Drop Winery, are two unique wines made in the Charmat method as against all other Indian sparkling rosés which are bottle fermented. Casablanca is a Prosecco-style wine, while the latter is a semi-dry sweet vino.
Wineries state that the demand for sparkling rosés has grown and the consumers are happy drinking them as much as their fairer sibling. From the international offering, Champagne has always offered rosés, and Prosecco is quickly joining the club. International giants like the Aussie Jacob’s Creek, Portuguese heavy-weight Mateus, and the Italian sweetheart, Ferrari have long been producing sparkling rosés and are good examples of their individual styles. Put all these together and you get a massive range to toy with, all available from your local retailer just a stone’s throw away.
For this tasting, Champagne was kept separate from the mix. SITP understands that Rosé Champagnes are a category and a study on their own and it’ll be best to consider them at an exclusive tasting on different occasion.
Most of the wines were promising in their quality, but some died a sorrowed death due to bad storage, prominently Indian rosés. While this may be concerning, it is not an indication of their quality. Through our learnings from the tasting, we would like to suggest that you check the production date on the wines when procuring them. It is best to relish them at their earliest, rather than cellaring them for long in the hope of popping them at a momentous occasion. Let the popping of an Indian sparkling rosé be a celebratory occasion in itself in the support of our desi winemakers.
TANK FERMENTED WINE
San Simone Il Concerto Prosecco DOC Brut Rose, ITALY
Bright pale salmon colour. High effervescence with fine bubbles.Ripe palate with fresh fruity acidity, creamy mouthfeel, pronounced flavours of strawberries, sweet cherries, and bubblegum. Very likeable wine, light and stylish, with appropriate balance. Amicable, approachable, and refreshing.
NV Casablanca Vino Spumante Rose, INDIA
Bright appearance with pale salmon hue. Big bubbles that die off quickly. Rather flat nose without much appeal or aromatics, especially surprising given its production.Soft on the palate but the unpleasant lack of balance dominates with leafy flavours, metallic bitterness, astringent tartness, and crushed apple skin aftertaste. Avoidable
Mateus Brut Rose Baga Shiraz, PORTUGAL
Bright appearance, lush salmon colour. Effervescence goes away quickly. Small well integrated bubbles. Crisp mouthful on the palate, plenty of sweet and light red and pink fruits, evident yeast autolysis. Persistent and ripe appeal. Hint of residual sugar at the end. Simple and charming, effortlessly.
Ferrari Metodo Classico Brut Rose Trento DOC, ITALY
Bright appearance with an onion skin colour. Clean palate with medium intensity of flavours. Refreshing mouthfeel with ripe fresh flavours of beetle leaf, concentrated plush red fruits, balancing yeast autolysis, and apply crisp acids. Husky graininess as the wine leaves the palate. A tad hollow at the end. Fresh, generous, food-worthy. A good find.
Jacob’s Creek Rose Sparkling Shiraz, AUSTRALIA
Bright, pale salmon colour. Elegant mousse and fizz. Bubbles are a tad bigger than bottle fermented wine. Plush palate with moderate intensity of ripe red fruits, floral touches, creamy palate. Fruity mouthfeel with a good griping round acidity, a tad musty at the end, but clears off on a good yeasty and biscuity tone and a gentle lift from the slight residual sugar. Impressive simplicity. A good benchmark to have.
Sula Brut Rose, INDIA
Bright appearance, medium intensity of onion skins tone. Flat with no vibrancy in the fizz. Smells medicinal and coppery. Aromatics seem put together, than natural. Palate has dead and over extracted fruit, raisiny and over ripe, cooked and savoury flavours. Astringent flat acidity, rusted metallic touches, ending with oxidised apple sourness. Definitely a badly stored bottle.
Chandon Brut Rose, INDIA
Bright fresh salmon pink colour. Good fizz with persistence and abundant bubbles. Fresh burst of aromas afront. Ripe berries, cherries, concentrated and matured fruit. Good balance from the yeast autolysis flavours too, yet letting the plush fruitiness prevail. Hint cloying at the end but overall a neat wine with a strong core and grip. Balance is evident but not impressive, finishes with a faint mouthfeel. Very drinkable, pleasant.
Fratelli Wines Gran Cuvee Brut Rose, INDIA
Medium salmon colour, good plentiful fizz. Good nose with medium intensity of aromas. Ripe, matured, and concentrated fruit. There’s yeastiness but in balance with only a minor presence. Very dry on the palate, making the acidity be at the forefront. Tad metallic at the end. Does need food to counter the sharp acidic punch. Not your regular Rose.
York Vineyards Sparkling Cuvee Brut Rose, INDIA
Was submitted but not tasted because the bottle was heat damaged.
Zampa Soiree Brut Rose, INDIA
Bright appearance with deep salmon colour. Impressive effervescence, long and persistent. Sweet red and pink fruits. Ripe and concentrated palate, with a hint of bubblegummy sweetness at the back. Good yeast integration, providing flavours of mushrooms, brioche, quince, lifted rhubarb perfume. Ripe, round, yet refreshing acidity binds everything together. Long aftertaste. Serious, well-defined, elegant. WOW!!
Zampa Soiree Brut Magnifique Rose, INDIA
Bright appearance with attractive watermelon candy colour. Abundant fizz. Very pleasant sight. Clear nose and palate. Fruity fruont, tartness follows, high concentration of yeast autolysis but get overpowered by syrupy sweetness of red fruits and berry flavours. Amicable grainy mouthful with a candied aftertaste. Though it’s a pleasing wine, it seems a tad confusing in its purpose and what it wishes to display. Magnificent indeed.
WINES WITH SWEETNESS
Frizzante Rose, INDIA – Tank Fermented
Bright appearance, pale pink hue. Aggressive fizz that dies quickly.Flat and neutral nose. Sweet red fruits and berries flavours, bubblegum, rhubarb candy. A line of old and oddly metallic flavours exists throughout. Grassy finish with a greasy mouthfeel. Semi-dry style of wine, yet lacks aftertaste. Can be drunk, but not too much due to the sweetness level.
Sula Seco Rose, INDIA – Bottle Fermented
Was submitted but not assessed because the wine was heat damaged.
Cavicchioli & Figli 1928 Extra Dry Rose Prosecco DOC, ITALY – Tank Fermented
Deep orange candy colour. Good fizz. Plush aromatics and florals. Candied sweetness, orange glaze, quince candy, red berry bubblegum, candy floss, orange blossoms, talc, musk, and baklava. lacks acidity, thus a tad cloying, and sticky. Shows Moscato dominance all though. Fun, playful, joyous.