Summer sunshine, greater freedom and everything, it seems, is coming up roses, especially when it comes to the choice of drinks. Our wine aficionado, sommelier Justin O’Hanlon, picks a bunch of the best.
Let your hair down, set your mask aside when it is safe to do so, and live a little on the sunny side of life. If the past few months have taught us anything it is to appreciate certain things, like good food, good wine, good company. Oh how we’ve craved good company! With the global crisis hopefully in a state of thaw, spring a season in omission, and the summer well and truly underway, we look forward to what remains of 2020 with an optimistic eye and a gregarious disposition. What a treat to have our feet once more upon the streets, sand between our toes, sun dappled skin with its healthy glow, once more in the current of life, although their ebb and flow has slowed.
In this month’s installment we take a look at six of Portugal’s blushing brides of wine, rosés for every occasion. So whether lounging like lizards on terracotta tiles, beachside taking in the sights, or cranking up coals on barbeques here are six very good reasons to be thinking pink this sunny season…….
1. QMF Rose (Bairrada)
In terms of the price to quality ratio, this is one of the best roses in Portugal. A staple at many of the more popular beach bars and restaurants in the Algarve, featuring from Tavira all the way to Lagos. A lighter style of rosé comes from Bairrada which is situated 230km north of Lisbon. This blend of Touriga Nacional and the indigenous varietal Baga is only 11.5% abv making it an attractive option for day- long consumption and pool side endeavours. Dry, light, aromatic, fruit-driven aromas, fresh strawberries and raspberry notes persist from nose to palate. Dangerously easy drinking!
QMF Rose, €6.80, at Wines & Co Almancil
2. Herdade do Rocim (Alentejo)
Another in a new wave of lighter paler styles of Portuguese rosé production, this one comes from the area between Vidigueira and Cuba, in Baixo Alentejo. This single varietal offering of Touriga Nacional is a pale salmon colour, bone dry, with lovely lively acidity while maintaining the exuberant primary fruit synonymous with Touriga. A relatively young production, branching out from agricultural machinery into winemaking in 2000 and also responsible for the more iconic Vale de Mata wines, they go from strength to strength and every vintage offers exciting new wines. This 2019 Rocim rosé is a wonderful food wine, as happily paired with prawns, shelfish and summer salads as it is with meats being peeled from BBQ grills on a sunny summer day.
Herdade do Rocim, €6.99 at Apolonia and also Garrafeira Veneza
3. Soito Rosé (Dáo)
Slightly darker in colour, the producers have made a conscious effort in recent vintages to making a lighter style more in line wine market-demanded blush rosé that joins the superb stable of wines from Portugal’s oldest DOC, nestled between the Serra da Estrela and Caramulo mountains. A rustic property combining traditional methods and modern technology in a harmonious melody of old and new. This one has a beautiful aromatic bouquet, fresh red berry fruit with subtle earthy undertones so often present in Schist-grown wines. On the palate, a bone dry, crisp acidity, aromatic profile follows through, ripe strawberries, generous mouth feel, lingering finish. This is a real food wine, and lovely with grilled meats.
Soito Rose, €11.50, at Aviworld, Apolonia, Garrafeira Veneza
4. Quinta Melgaco QM (Vinho Verde)
I enjoyed this again just last week, part of a stellar line up of Portuguese rosés on the day; it really is superb. Pale salmon in colour with an almost orange hue. Its nose is complex, fresh red fruit with an almost imperceptible minty note, and some subtle citrus peel, too. Dry, fresh, light and totally delicious, this is one of the best being produced in Portugal, I feel. The red fruit core is present on the palate too, with a delicate touch of vanilla and a lovely mineral backbone. Perfectly balanced acidity and fruit. A welcome addition to a pool or dinner party and beautifully presented too. Certainly one to keep an eye out for.
Quinta Melgaco Rose, €9.50, at Sovipral, Apolonia, and Garrafeira Veneza
5. Soalheiro Mineral Rose (Vinho Verde)
Another northern offering, and one of the best rosé wines being produced in Portugal; Soalheiro is famous for its Alvarinho productions, and mineral-driven wines. The rosé is a relatively new addition to the portfolio, 70% Alvarinho and 30% Pinot Noir. Cool climates, granitic soils and higher altitude vineyards all play a part in this theatrical enterprise. The Pinot lends an expressive red fruit profile to nose and palate. When coupled with the Alvarinho’s zesty fresh acidity and flinty minerality, it combines for a complex but harmonious offering. Layered aromas and a depth of flavour, exhibit the incredible care and craftsmanship associated with all of Soalheiro’s wines.
Soalheiro Mineral Rosé, €11.50, from Decante Wines and Apolonia
6. Herdade do Portocarro Tears of Anima (Peninsula de Setubal)
Made from cuttings of Sangiovese from Brunello di Montlacino, arguably the best expression of Italy’s native varietal. Pepe’s homage to Tuscan wines ‘Anima –Joy’ has the most wonderful by-product, the rosé produced from the same grapes. Rosé gets its colour from time spent on skins, Pepe uses a technique called gravity pressing, the weight of the grapes upon each other to very delicately press the precious first run from the grapes. As the juice trickles down through the grapes below it runs over the skins of the other grapes, extracting the tiniest hint of colour. This first run of juice from gravity press is called ‘the tears’ so as this rosé is made just from the first press of the Anima wine it is called ‘Tears of Anima’ The end result, a pale salmon blush rose, is reserved and refined. With a fruit profile that is a red berry medley but with hints of stone fruit and citrus peel, it almost drinks like a white. Crisp and dry, acidity is present but very well integrated and the finish is remains long after the wine is gone. One of my favourite producers in Portugal and without a doubt one of the nicest rosés I’ve tried here.
Tears of Anima Rosé, €14.99, at Sovipral, Apolonia and Garrafeira Veneza
So with the proverbial cloud lifting on the Algarve, a season to be salvaged, and a little sunshine back in our lives, it seems fitting that life through rose-tinted glasses is the subject of our studies. Time again for basking in the sunshine and sitting and sipping by the sea. I’ve been tickled pink by this selection and I hope you all are too...