Rosés and Sparkling Wines (Jan 2018)

If you invite the country’s wineries to send samples of their rosés and sparkling wines, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that rosé is currently the industry’s higher priority.  As one winemaker put it recently, “it’s rosé or the highway.”

Times have changed since 2000, when judges at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards chose not to award the trophy for champion rosé – which was no surprise, given the complete absence of medal winners, gold, silver or bronze.   Only a decade ago, we exported twice as much sparkling wine as rosé, but now we ship twice as much rosé as bubbly.

Is pink the new black?   You can select from over 150 rosés, grown from Northland to Central Otago.  By contrast, our best, bottle-fermented sparklings are almost all produced in the relatively coolness of the South Island.

The range of New Zealand bubblies is not wide, partly because most small wineries find its production too time-consuming and costly.  “Rosé is relatively easy to make,” says Shayne Cox, of Kaimira Estate, Nelson.  “It can be released early for quick cash flow, and can be made from multiple varieties.   North Island rosés are usually Merlot-based, while South Island rosés are produced mostly from Pinot Noir (those labelled simply as ‘Pinot’ often include Pinot Gris.)

If you haven’t tasted this new wave of rosés, don’t miss out.  Fans adore them as “light and summery”, “pink and pretty”, or “full of flavour, like a red, but still light and refreshing, like a white.”  Retailers report that rosé is enjoying especially strong demand from women and young people, but men are buying it too – some like to call it brosé.