Nowadays, no wine cellar, fridge or National Rosé Day (June 10th) should ever be without an English rosé.
You should always have some Hattingley Valley from Hampshire on hand. Or some Digby from Sussex or some Balfour Lark Song. A Black Chalk ‘Dancer in Pink’ or a Dancing Dog too. Maybe, if there’s room, some Devon “Shoreline” and something from the Hog’s Back as well.
A blend of 62% Pinot Noir, 35% Pinot Noir Précoce (a mutation of Burgundy’s red grape), and 3% Pinot Gris, Hampshire vineyard Black Chalk’s new “Dancer in Pink” rosé should be found in every well-curated wine rack. The wine is made in the Test Valley by Jacob Leadley. And his more-ish handiwork should be given pride of place in your wine rack’s rosé section under Gusbourne’s “Twenty Twenty” Pinot Noir rosé and above Simpson Estate’s “Railway Hill”. And beside a bottle of Simon Roberts’s “Fitzrovia” which was served to Barak Obama by the Queen at a Buckingham Palace State banquet.
You should decide what rosés should be not that far from and in just as easy reach as your benchmark Provençals like Whispering Angel and Miraval. And the ones to put in front, if not hiding, the Kylie Minogue!
The fastest growing wine category in the UK, sales of English rosés have shot up by 200% over the past 12 months. 33% of the UK vineyards are now dedicated to Pinot Noir and 13% to Pinot Meunier, according to WineGB. The south of England is producing pinks of crisp acidity and fresh red berry fruits. Drink berry-scented warm weather English rosé and you will taste ripe strawberry, strawberry shortcake, rhubarb, blossom, nutmeg, cereal, raspberry sorbet and, of course, rose petals.
When planning your wine rack or cellar layout, dedicate a row at least for some other Hampshire rosé wines from Hambledon – the birthplace of cricket, Raimes, Exton Park, Coates & Seely and Hattingley. Save a space for Norfolk’s Winibirri made by Lee Dyer.
Kent should be represented by Chapel Down, Nyetimber, Gusbourne, Hush Heath, Simpson’s and Lamberhurst. Your row of Devon rosés should comprise Sharpham and Lyme Bay’s Shoreline.
Near the Tavel, Mirabeau and Chateau Minuty should be some South Downs. And Sussex English home county fine wines like Dermot Sugrue’s Wiston Estate, America Brewer’s Oastbrook, Owen Elias’s Artelium, Kristin Syltevik and Paul Dobson’s Organic Oxney Estate near Rye six miles from the English Channel and something from the Bolney Estate which was one of the first English commercial vineyards planted in 1972 by Janet and Rodney Pratt.
Folc is another fine English rose and perfect if you are running out of room because it represents the best of both Kent and Sussex, being made from a unique blend of seven different grape varieties sourced from the two southern counties – Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay, Bacchus, Reichensteiner, Schonburger and Dornfelder.
English rosé has much to offer. Sarah Driver of Rathfinny Estate in Sussex says:
“Our ambition is that in twenty years’ time you will walk into a bar or restaurant in New York or Beijing, and you’ll be asked whether you would you like a glass of Champagne or a delicious glass of Sussex.”
Kevin Pilley is a former professional cricketer and chief staff writer of PUNCH magazine. His humour, travel, food and drink work appears worldwide and he has been published in over 800 titles.
Photographs courtesy of Lyme Bay Winery and Rathfinny Estate