Each May when the majority of our newly-bottled rosé wine range has arrived here in Mere we host a tasting to assess the vintage and compare and contrast offerings from different producers. Our chosen venue for this is Medcalf bar and restaurant in Exmouth Market, London EC1 because its relaxed, urbane atmosphere seems to suit the genre and they have a secluded and sheltered private terrace which is ideal for tasting au plein air - undoubtedly the best way to sample pink wines.
Tired of big, corporate, free-for-all tastings we deliberately arrange for this to be a low-key and understated event by the simple expedient of not inviting many people. While this may seem commercially illogical it does make for a very pleasant atmosphere and ensures that those who do attend are unhurried and relaxed which are also important considerations when sampling subtle, berry-scented, summery wines.
The big variable, over which we have no control, is the weather. Rosé wines are very atmosphere sensitive and they never show at their best if it is overcast or, even worse, tipping it down. Fortunately, last Monday we were blessed with sunny skies and gentle breezes in the Metropolis prompting Jancis Robinson to Tweet: ‘Perfect day for tasting Yapp’s interesting rosé range outside at Medcalf – will report.’
The spectacle of two dozen different rosés lined up side by side is always a visual treat as there is a full spectrum of colours from a very pale ‘onion skin’ hued Reuilly Pinot Gris through the classic coral pinks of Bellet, Bandol and Cassis right up to the deep brick-red of an Irouléguy. My opinion is, of course, heavily biased but the 2010 vintage seems to be bien classique to me, with ripe red fruit aromas and flavours in abundance and plenty of deft wine-making in evidence. Personally I can’t abhor sweet, ‘jammy’, over-extracted rosé wines and happily there were none of these in evidence but bags of elegance and finesse which bodes well for carefree drinking this summer. My personal favourites were the delicate, bone-dry, Vin de Corse Sartène 2010 from Domaine Saparale, the ever-reliable Sancerre ‘Maulin Bèle’ from André Vatan and the rare Bellet: Domaine de la Source, made from pure Braquet, which I revisited over a delicious and highly convivial lunch of artichoke hearts, asparagus and hand-picked Dorset crab. Indeed – a perfect day!