Ageing rock star Cliff Richard might have launched Congratulations, his own sparkling syrah rosé last year, to celebrate Adega do Cantor’s 10th anniversary and the birth of Prince George, to the delight of his fans – but Sir Cliff is in the minority. Despite plenty of demand from rosé drinkers on Valentine’s Day and during our warm summer months, there is still a dearth of decent rosé sparkling wines at affordable prices.
I could name plenty of delicious rosé champagnes at much higher prices, but for those in search of a budget rosé fizz to liven up their Valentine weekend, it is very hard to find anything decent under a tenner, unless it is on promotion. Shops rarely stock more than one or two bottles of pink fizz. In the mid-price bracket – £8-£15 – there are a limited number worth seeking out. Here is my top ten for a Valentine’s on a budget:
TASMANIA JANSZ BRUT ROSÉ NV
(£16, www.ocado.com; Bon Vivant, Edinburgh; Oddbins)
The Apple Isle is a popular source of sparkling wine grapes, often sent off to mainland Australia to liven up the big fizz brands. Jansz is currently my favourite Aussie fizz producer for its creamy depth of flavour and length. This is available with online retailers, and it used to be sold in Oddbins stores in Scotland – but it appears to have sold out. I can see why.
SOUTH AFRICA GRAHAM BECK BRUT ROSÉ NV
(£10.99, reduced from £14.99, until 3 March, Majestic Wine)
A new listing for Majestic. I am delighted to see they have stocked this as it is one of the leading bottles of New World rosé fizz. A well-crafted blend of champagne grapes pinot noir and chardonnay grown in Graham Beck’s own vineyards in Robertson, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch – this has more ageing than other rosé fizz we tried. There’s a yeasty nose, fine mousse and lively fruit. It’s good value too. STAR BUY
CHILE UNDURRAGA BRUT ROSÉ NV
(£6.99, reduced from £10.49, until 3 March, Majestic Wine)
Chile is not known for its fizz, although we are starting to see more top producers turn to the bubbles (Errazuriz will be launching one soon). Undurraga were one of the first to make fizz here and it has improved significantly since my first visit to this producer back in the early 1990s. Their 100 per cent pinot noir fizz is still quite simple and lacking complexity, but it’s well priced and very quaffable.
CHILE TORRES ESTELADO BRUT ROSÉ NV
(£12, Aitken Wines, Dundee)
This was one of the most popular bottles of fizz in our tasting: made by Spanish guru winemaker Miguel Torres in his Chilean hideaway where he has tamed the wild native pais grape into a very attractive, richly fruity fizz. A triumph of winemaking over grape quality.
BORDEAUX, FRANCE RESERVE DE SOURS BRUT ROSÉ NV
(£12.20 bt Exel Wines, Perth; Marks & Spencer)
Chateau de Sours is well known for its still rosé, so naturally it has turned to the bubbles. Owner of this beautiful 18th century chateau, Martin Krajewski makes this very enticing blend of 50 per cent merlot and 50 per cent cabernet sauvignon. These are not the normal grapes you find in fizz, but this has a delicious freshness and light red fruits. This used to be sold in Marks & Spencer, but online they are currently listing it as out of stock – so it’s worth checking their stores.
LOIRE, FRANCE LANGLOIS CHATEAU CREMANT DE LOIRE ROSÉ NV
(£15, Luvians, Cupar; Noble Green, London; Highbury Vintners, London)
Made by Champagne Bollinger no less, who own Langlois Chateau in the beautiful town of Saumur in the Loire. Currently one of the most serious Cremant producers in the Loire, this bottle is made from 100 per cent cabernet franc grapes, a grape normally used for still red Loire wines. It’s a pretty pink colour, lively and refreshing with a four-square quite structured palate.
NEW ZEALAND MOUNT BLUFF SPARKLING ROSÉ NV
(£11.99, Marks & Spencer)
This light easy-quaffing chardonnay and pinot noir fizz is better value than better known brand, Lindauer. Pale golden with a light pink tinge and light fruit notes, it has a zesty refreshing quality, typical of Kiwi wines.
PUGLIA, ITALY SPUMANTE ROSATO A MANO NV
(£16.95, Valvona & Crolla, Edinburgh and Loch Lomond Shores)
Puglia is not a regular destination for fizz lovers, and with its intense summer heat it is surprising that they have found grapes with sufficient acidity so important in making fizz. This is an unusual blend of local Italian greco, aglianico and negroamaro grapes. It’s a robust, unusual quaffer and quite pricey. There is certainly better value rosé fizz around.
SPAIN ROSADO CAVA PRESTIGE BRUT NV
(£9.49, Marks & Spencer)
I have never been a great cava fan as I dislike its chalky texture and bitterness, but Marks & Spencer has managed to track down a very acceptable rosé made from trepat, monastrell and garnacha. It’s well-priced too.
CORNWALL, ENGLAND CAMEL VALLEY BRUT ROSÉ NV
This is over the budget, but in my opinion one of the finest rosés from our shores, made by the irrepressible Bob Lindo from his south-facing vineyards near the Bodmin moors. It’s very well made – a fine 100 per cent pinot noir fizz showing great potential for the future. I also like Nyetimber Rosé and Balfour Brut Rosé, but they are both getting too expensive.
Join Rose’s Champagne and Sparkling Wine tasting at The Scores Hotel, St Andrews: Saturday 15 February, 7:30pm, £30, tel: 01334 870731.