there are some new reviews oozing though here, but we're not deckin em up all pretty til we work out an otherwise unborn style for this sleazy rube we call drankster


that's a George Grainger Aldridge cartoon ... obviously a pre-screwcap man

27 January 2012


Castagna Allegro Beechworth Syrah Rosé 2010
$30; 14% alcohol; Diam cork; 95++ points
This is like one of those people who radiate such cornflower-blue health that they make you feel sick.  It’s riddled with well-being: watermelon, pomegranate, raspberry … and I was just about to switch over through the blood orange and its pith to the bone china tannin when the dry edge was violently installed by a falcon whacking into a juvenile Wattle Bird on the veranda behind me.  When I asked why the little bird was trying to get into the bedroom they explained it had just escaped the talons of a hungry demon from the blue, but didn’t tell me because it was all over in a flash.  That’s the first time that’s ever happened in my immediate vicinity in the middle of a wine appraisal.  You don’t get raptors in vineyards managed under the old petrochem regime.  When you use poisons, you get sick insects.  Sick insects mean sick birds and snakes, and sick birds and snakes means dead raptors, as they’re the end of the food chain.  Nothing sick about that hungry, heaving falcon.  Anyway, once I got the feathers outa my carby I realized that this wine has a delicious bitterness which is almost along the lines of a Campari with soda, and while its acid might seem a tad brittle it actually slithers round one’s gustatory stage like a viper.  These rosés of Julian’s are always pretty much the best in the country: out of thousands of entries, the 2001 Allegro was outright winner of all classes in my Top 100 in 2002; the only time a rosé ever rose to such heights. Tasted November 2011

Castagna Allegro Beechworth 2008
$30; 14% alcohol; Diam cork; 95+ points
This is probably the best rosé I’ve had, excluding the odd Crystal or Krug. No cavities in this one, though: it’s pure cool smooth stone-shaped beauty, like a Brancusi head. It smells like the caramel aroma of roasting crayfish shells. With an absolute gush of rosy fruits and petals, from blood orange to cherry nougat. It’s syrupy, but before you begin to think that, there’s lemon and crisp white plum, and then there’s the fine stony tannins, and then there’s the maraschino crunch, and pickled orange peel, like Campari, and saffron. It finishes dry, but you never feel cheated like most dry drinks make you feel if they’re much short of perfect. Hang on. It’s not shaped like a Brancusi head. It’s shaped like a bullet. 23 NOV 08

Charles Melton Rose of Virginia 2008
$22; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 94 points
Rosey’s twenty one this vintage, and man, she’s so cute and cool on account of Good Time Charlie picking her before the heat set everyone’s cleavage perspiratin’. This year she’s a flirty daughter of grenache, cabernet, pinot meunier and shiraz, and just about the best, brightest, pink this rosé sot can recall. Dry, beautifully viscous, concentrated and lush, she’s up there with the Castagna Shiraz, the Old Mill Touriga Nacional, and anything pink or puce made by Dominique Portet. She’d break hearts with Tony Bilson’s snapper poached in saffron court bouillon or coddled salmon with red wine sauce. www.charles

Old Mill Estate Langhorne Creek Touriga Nacional Rosé 2007
$18; 12% alcohol; screw cap; 93++ points
Ferrari scarlet, this baby’s a racer in every other sense of the word, right through to its cheeky smokin’ tail. Chockers with maraschino cherries, raspberries and cranberries; fleshy with a sharp lemony topnote, and an acrid terroir edge that’s somewhere between hot clutch and struck flint, this is a serious XXX-rated toy that will actually improve in the cellar, if you can only manage to get outa the driver’s seat and let her cool down. Made from the grand vintage port grape, touriga nacionale, it has texture and mouth-filling viscosity like no other pink. Take it for a squirt to your nearest fishmonger or fowl rotisserie.

Gomersal Wines Barossa Valley Shiraz Rosé 2008
$??; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 93+ points
Instead of helping his lovely wife, Gabriella, with running the show, Baz White spends most of his day telling people what to do whilst he glares at his shiraz across dusty Gomersal Road from the winery’s ample veranda. This stare seems to keep the starlings, pardalotes, odiums and mildews at bay, and I think also frightens the grapes into ripening. It terrified this poor 2008 mob so thoroughly they’ve obviously started to bleed: for this smells slightly bloody, and like previous vintages actually reeks of blood orange. There’s the classic whiff of the dusty road, too, and while there’s some of the softer unction that Gabriella offers within the cellar, along with perfect snacks and coffee, there’s more of that macho bulldust in the finish. You can feel it caking up around the edge of your mouth, as if you’re perishing in the friggin’ desert. But you’re not. You’re simply thirsty, and at 14.5% alcohol; this is not going to be quenching any thirst today. Just get inside safely with Gabriella, and try not to look at Baz glowering at you from George Grainger Aldridge’s fearsome portrait of the bastard that’s hanging there on the wall, also staring at the vineyard over the road. I reckon this would go perfectly with those slices of candied orange dipped in bitter dark chocolate, no? JAN 09

Old Mill Estate Touriga Nacional Langhorne Creek Rosé 2006
$16; 12.2% alcohol; screw cap; 93+ points
This is a much more complex and earthy drink than the 07 and 08. It immediately smells more like a dry red, with leather and walnut, and then the dusty aroma of its country in summer, with a rustic twinge of the tractor shed. Think more of a classic, ageing Penfold’s Barossa blend of grenache, mourvedre and shiraz – it even has an insinuation of old oak, which must have come from the slowly oxidising natural lignins of the grape pulp. Think of opening the door of a dusty old Jaguar in your grandfather’s shed, to discover a basket of fresh plums on the back seat. The palate still has plenty of the ripe red and pink fruits of the younger vintages, and these rise steadily as the glass sits on the table, but there are also more meaty dry red characters oozing up with time, and the developing tannins are more like those from a much more full-bodied red. This lovely wine is to be served cool, not chilled, as you would a good dry red. 01 MAR 09

Clancy Fuller Two Little Dickie Birds Barossa Mataro Grenache 2006
$18; 11.5% alcohol; screw cap; 93 points
This is the best Barossa rosé I know. While some makers add a dash of mataro to lighter styles of pink to give them complexity, this brute’s made of the stuff. It very happily dominates the much simpler grenache. This is deadly alluring: once again showing the gunpowdery, flinty edge of indigenous yeast, which opens the whole crunchy-crisp adventure. It could come from the south of France, but it’s actually Chris Ringland. Hearty bouillabaisse.

Dominique Portet Fontaine Yarra Valley Rosé 2006
($20; 14% alcohol; screw cap; 93 points)
Fontaine she is. Squirtin’ cherries and raspberries and strawberries all over your nosé. There are dry shots of tannic things in this joyous bouquet, too, like maybe a shot of pickled walnut juice, so it’s not simple teenybopper sugar. The palate’s juicy, dry and fairly tannic for a pinky. It’s a see-saw, tipping from sweet maraschino to dry furry peach pith. Best use of Yarra Valley cabernet, merlot and shiraz I know. Santamaria sardines on rye with raw Spanish onion. (28.20.6)

Fairbank Sutton Grange Winery Central Victoria Rosé 2007
$??; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 93 points
Gilles Lapalus makes this scrumptious, austere, pheasant eye rosé with a great deal of respect for the beauties of the south of France. This one’s what he calls syrah (shiraz), with cabernet and merlot. Frost, hail, and drought buggered 2007 for most in his neck of the woods, but this is no tank of waste from that carnage, like so many contemporary rosés. Rather, it’s a triumph of intelligent, traditional, respectful winemaking, with its bouquet of musk, raspberry, blood orange and marzipan, and its neatly viscous palate of all those, plus. One for the gastronome. Smoked mackerel, char-grilled.

J.E Ngeringa Adelaide Hills Rosé 2008
$28: 13% alcohol; screw cap; 93 points
Once the stalks were removed from the biodynamic 2008 shiraz, and the berries were left for twelve hours, this juice was simply dyin’ to run out the bottom of the vat. This suited everybody, because the shiraz left behind would be more intense, not to mention the little matter of us getting this sassy menace to drink. Imagine maraschino cherries in a squirt of lemon juice, on a linen frocked table in the middle of a flowery pasture just browning off in the first breath of summer. The anticipation of company. Crusty bread, goat cheese. Watercress, alfalfa sprouts. The flavours of raspberry and blood orange. Acidity that makes your lips swell with blood. Swoon. I feel Fellini looking over my shoulder.

Margan Hunter Valley Shiraz Saignée 2006
($20; 14% alcohol; screw cap; 93 points)
The French word reflects the manner in which this exemplary rosé was made: you bleed the free-run juice from your shiraz before pressing. The vineyard’s deep, loose, red volcanic soils give a tidy acrid edge to the raspberry and maraschino fruits that vibrate around this glass. Drink it, and you’re wallowing in a pot pourri of chopped red fruit topping from your granny’s best ever trifle. Have it with smoked mackerel on dark rye with lemon juice. (28.10.6)

Mt. Bera Adelaide Hills White Cabernet 2006
($16; 12% alcohol; screw cap; 93 points)
One of the nicest things I ever had in Hindley Street was a 10 y.o. Houghton cabernet rosé, in Ceylon Hut. It was like clairette - Bordeaux made quick - as Billy Shakespaw sunk in the Boar’s Head. That became claret, a word the EU now forbids us from using. But this proves we can still make it! Not white: darker than rosé, but simple: dry, with lemon, walnuts, Cherry Heering, medlar, kippers, war paint, lipstick, prosciutto, etc., and best had cool with heaps of that stuff. (2.12.6)

Mt. Billy Southern Fleurieu Saignée 2006
$20; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 93 points
Pinot meurnier is a relly of the noir, and tends to be a little more feral and meaty. Here, John Edwards has used his cool climate cut of it to perfection. It has a similarly sharp acrid edge to the masterly Gibbston, offsetting the comforting texture of chicken stock or fish stock below. That pleasing roll of puppy fat, cute and fresh, balanced the huskily sexy edge in the bouquet. Iot’s a bonnie, fun drink for grown-ups and fish.

Old Mill Estate Touriga Nacional Langhorne Creek Rosé 2005
$16; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 93 points
If you had a beautiful comfy old cracked leather chesterfield, and just gave it a big drink of saddlesoap or R. M. Williams’ fabulous leather dressing, the smell would be a little like the aroma of this really complex ageing rosé. There are plenty of red fruits, of course, but these are gradually becoming more along the lines of dried fig, date and pear, than the fresh plums, marello cherries and blood orange which are on the decline. It smells a little like lipstick; a little like Italian smokehouse meats, like cacciatora or prosciutto. The palate is elegantly slender and dry with fine walnut tannins, and should be served just cool, as if it were fresh from a particularly cool cellar. It leaves a cheeky little dollop of raspberry on the palate after it’s swallowed, reminding the drinker of its bright rosy youth. Perfect wine for serious tapas, mezes, or antipasto. 01 MAR 09

Yangarra Estate Vineyard Small Pot McLaren Vale Carignan Grenache Mourvèdre Rosè 2011
$25; 12.9% alcohol; screw cap; tasted 30 October – 2 November 2011; 93 points
Down-the-line Provence style rosé served a year early.  But better. From Australia.  This drink seems to undress itself right in front of you. But very slowly.  Suspended in its watermelon juice and blood orange plasma, comes its pears-and-strawberries opening, through all those neat little fatty acids to the citrus and bitter cherry sector and then the pithy tannins that pull you back for more pears and strawberries.  It’s all over you. It is a tease of a wine, never quite letting you see everything at once … letting you suspect that maybe you have, then unveiling a glimpse of some other surprise.  It gives a cheeky illusion of simple and cute sweetness, then washes that away with an authoritative sweep of something bitter and very adult, like Campari and soda.  I want it with smoked salmon, fennell, raw spanish onion, capers and horseradish cream on thin dark rye.  This was the made from the co-fermented juice of the new baby bush vines, left to tick through a carbonic maceration before pressing into tank.  The winery stank of roses, maraschino cherries and Turkish delight.

Cape Jaffa La Lune Rosé de Syrah 2008
$25; 14% alcohol; screw cap; 92++ points
After twelve years of hard experimentation, Derek and Anna Hooper have finally got their accreditation from the Australia Certified Organic mob; this is their first sale of fully accredited biodynamic fruit. Unlike most shiraz rosés, which are the free run from normal dry red shiraz, allowed to dribble out overnight so the remainder of the tank is more like the sort of thick black muck beloved of the Parkerilla, this wine was even picked with rosé in mind, while its natural acidity was still quite high. Pity more shiraz makers didn’t follow suit with their normal wine: nearly all our shiraz would benefit from higher levels of natural acidity. So we end up with quite an explosion of vibrant healthy pink in the mouth division: tart cranberry or yellow salmonberry more than raspberry, astringent wild cherry more than sweet farmed ones. Maybe even blood orange, but with the zest of the Seville orange, which is what they use to make Cointreau, Curacao and Grand Marnier. It’s lovely, dry, crunchy rosé that would perfectly accompany some greasy smoked mackerel and chêvre on rye. One lesson: because biodynamic practice tends to turn the volume up on every aspect of your fruit, it will also turn your astringency up; if this had some of the viscosity of the magical Castagna rosé, it would be better balanced. It will be better in two or three years. Nice now, but for grown-ups only.

Old Mill Estate Touriga Nacional Langhorne Creek Rosé 2008
$17; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 92++ points
Immediately bright and cheery, this big pink shunts out evocations of all manner of rosy fruits with a slightly wild, vegetal edge: ripe ox-heart tomatoes, red currant, cranberry, wild cherry, blood orange, rocha pear, feijoia, persimmom, tamarillo, watermelon, pomegranite -- even a slice of red spanish pineapple. Beside these vibrant fruits rises a brightly sharpened edge of burlap and dust, which makes the nostrils flare with anticipation, and even tickles them. The palate’s perfectly viscous and comforting to feel, with a gentle, homogenised syrup of all those fruits settling the sensories until the more acrid and edgy reflections of the vineyard’s complex earths and alluviums rise with the acidity to put anticipation and hunger back into mind. It’s beautiful, evocative, appetising and tantalising wine which can handle a deep chill, even a big ice block with a mint, cherry and strawberry garnish, but is best served just cool in a big glass. 01 MAR 09

S. C. Pannell McLaren Vale Rosé Prido 2009
$26; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 92+ points
Only a mug would leave an opened rosé in the fridge for a fortnight, but being a perverse torturous bastard, I did exactly that to this exquisity. It’s better! So it’ll cellar beautifully, and be big-time go in two or three years. Fresh? At the Bushing King lunch, where the Crowned glory was not to be seen, this won serious bling, and the winemaking throng guzzled it like there was no tomorrow, which there must have been. It’s scrumptiously crunchy served cool, not freezing, with all manner of nutty soft nougat aromas and turkish delight, raspberries and cranberries, and a very adult, stone-dry finish. Tuck your pretty knees under a table at Fino and let Shazza manage the solids.

Margan Hunter Valley Shiraz Saignée 2008
$??; 12% alcohol; screw cap; 92+ points
Funny thing. This rosé has the same aroma of dry summer grass and the basalt-derived dust of Broke Fordwich that I found in Andrew Margan’s stunning 2007 semillon – even down to the hint of juniper. (Andrew grows horny goatweed between the vine rows, which may explain some of that acrid herbaceousness, and justified his suggestion that the best thing to drink this with is an amorous friend.) But instead of the delicate lemon butter of the semi, this has rude charcuterie meats, maraschino cherries and cranberry in the second row. It’s really live cheeky wine: it gets right up your nose. The palate’s not as fullsome as that meaty bouquet might suggest, but rather pleasantly juicy and bone dry, with tannins like a number ten bus, and crunchy natural-looking acidity. It does make one feel rather like hopping through a hole in the hedgerow for a spot of lusty frotting in the sward, but there’s a serious surfeit of sward around here these days, so I’ll have it near a bed, thanks. Prosciutto and melon; baguette with ripe tomato, bocconcini and fresh basil sort of stuff would be handy. Nothing like a little bocconcini and breadcrumbs in the cot, eh? You don’t even need glasses, really. JAN 09

Port Phillip Estate Mornington Peninsula Salasso Rosé 2009
$22; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; drunk 5-7MAY10; 92+ points
Crisp goju berries (a.k.a. medlar) seem to grow in this glass: along with a neat carbide reek and a shot of guano, or burlap phosphate sacks. In other words, acrid, appetizing smells. There’s a cute lozenge of goju left in the middle of the tongue as the bone dry tannins wrap about it, making the soul very hungry indeed. Seafood on the char grill, please. Prawns and scallops; squid.

Old Mill Estate Touriga Nacional Langhorne Creek Rosé 2007
$17; 12% alcohol; screw cap; 91++ points
Squishy ripe strawberry, raspberry, and blood orange are the principal aromas here, backed up with the fleshy smell of the white pith of the strawberry. It smells like these fresh ripe fruits have been diced, doused in pink champagne, dusted with confectioner’s sugar, decked with a handful of maraschino cherries, and served with ice blocks, a chunk of meringue and a dollop of fresh whipped cream. But then another wave of aroma rises: the acrid, edgy smell of the dry delta alluvium, and the hessian/hemp/burlap aroma of dry meadow grass. With time, there’s a whiff of charcuterie meats, like pancetta, which simply makes it all the more alluring. The palate has quite fat viscosity, like fruit syrup, before those chubby fruits arise, and the finish is clean, crisp, bone dry and appetising. While this seems a more frivolous and chuggable drink than the 2008, it takes on a more serious air as it opens and warms with time in the glass. 01 MAR 09

Domaine de Saint-Antoine Costières de Nîmes Rosé 2006
$13; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 91+ points
All the better for a couple of years' age, this meaty little south-of-France wonder comes from Nimes, the home of the cloth de Nimes, as in jeans. Sailors' pants. I can see a few sailor boys setting off in this lovely pomegranite and prosciutto profusion: it needs bouillabaise, fast! Just a few mackerel or snook smoked on the char first, and then, the full-bore bouillabaise. Some grana pecorino would be good, too. Oh ma Lawdy. Thirteen bucks. Bone dry. Juicy and meaty and nothing like that Rockford goo. Vintage Cellars for Aussies, and 1st Choice. Thirteen bucks. 05 MAR 09.

Stoneleigh Marlborough Pinot Noir Rosé 2006
$19; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 91 points
There are two extremes of drinkable rosé. The first is the lollypop sweet raspberry cordial stuff like the famously mis-spelt Alicante Bouchet. Far too sweet for me. Then there’s the rare adult one with tannin instead of sugar. This falls between the two, being not particularly sweet, but having no tannin to dry its finish and tease the palate. It’s all maraschino and raspberry, slippery smooth and satisfying. While it sang with seafood tomato sauce on vegeroni, it was more The Blind Man than Pavarotti.

De Bortoli Yarra Valley Pinot Noir Rosé 2011
$22; 12% alcohol; screw cap; 90+ points
On the other hand, this one’s more slender, staunch and vegetal.  It smells more like turnip greens and burlap onion sacks – it is indeed the colour of a pale brown onion.   That burlap character, which I imagine, perhaps foolishly, to derive from a methoxyopyrazine, as occurs in Sauvignon blanc, is devilishly alluring and appetizing.  The wine then shows a cheeky and relieving twist of its sister’s puppy fat in its strapping acid and summer dust tail – perhaps this is Dame Nellie’s manager.  He carries just the memory of the last brief sniff of her pink cheek.  Otherwise, it’s just a skinny dude in a suit.  Jolly good company, however, with smoked chicken or rabbit, chillies notwithstanding, or a juicy hare stew. 

False Cape Kangaroo Island Montebello Rosé 2007
$18; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 90+ points
Here’s a grown-ups’ slippery pink that’s as dry as the country it grew in. Even if it’s an accident, it’s a gastronomically intelligent blend of merlot, cabernet and shiraz. Sacky burlap whiffs and blood orange fill the bouquet; the palate’s complex, elegant and bone dry, and had me immediately yearning for mackerel straight out of the smoker. It’s the closest Island pink to the XXX-rated beauties you slurp with your bouillabaise in Marseilles, corks willing. 10 OCT 98

Gundog Estate Canberra Rosé 2009
$20; 13% alcohol; screw cap; tasted 07JUN10; 90 points
Blood orange, poached quince and Iberian ham seem to be the aromas here, along with some nostril-tickling acrid split stone and maybe some burlap. The palate's viscous and sweet, a bit like cranberry jelly. To use an emulsional metaphor, if Cochise was a Maori, he'd have this with his lamb. Only the Bratash Kiwis use mint sauce for aftershave.

Taltarni T Series Victoria Rosé 2006
$15; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 90 points
When the cold reality of this glut-busting vintage settles on those plonk-mongers who have their hands on, among other things, the levers of wine industry power, our current flood of rosés made from bleached, sugared dry red will evaporate. But I fervently beseech the mighty Bacchus to ensure the continuation of lovely smart dry ones like this. Made from free-run juice bled from dry red fermenters, the wine is fresh, viscous, and brilliant, whilst the stuff left behind for the presses is more concentrated and profound. So both wines are better. Tuna sashimi; wasabe.

Charles Melton Rose of Virginia 2007
$21; 12% alcohol; screw cap; 89++ points
Good Time Charlie’s blended cabernet, shiraz and pinot meunier with a great big glob of grenache to make this. And glob is the word: rosy grenache reminds me of some kind of maraschino and raspberry jelly gloop you’d get in sideshow alley. But this wine’s been built and blended so that simple sweet grenache gets a tarter texture and some spice. It’s perfect autumn schlücking with chevre and nuts or kippers on rye with raw onion.

Woolybud Kangaroo Island Rosé 2008
$16; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 89+ points
Maraschino cherries and blood orange ooze about this bright glass, below a savoury, appetising edge like dried meadow grass. It’s wholesome and accomplished, with a juicy sweet top but great acidity and a neat dry finish. Like the kid in the third row of desks who’s never, ever done anything wrong. A Mormon, maybe? A Cooneyite? He’ll come round. The Devil always wins. It was made by Jeff and Brody Howard at Dudley Partners. 10 OCT 98
de Bortoli La Bohème Act Two Yarra Valley Pinot Noir Rosé 2011
$20; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 89 points
Apart from Old Mill Estate’s stunning Touriga Nacional Rosé, those made by Sutton Grange, Dandelion, Sandro Mosele and, if you can handle the bubbles, Louis Crystal and Krug Rosé Champagnes, these new de Borts are about my favourite pinks.  All Pinot, this one has a cute puppy fat flesh about it – what winemakers dumbly call a textural wine.  Strawberries, raspberries, cranberry and maybe grapefruit are the juices; soft is the acid; chalky the finish.  But bugger texture - it’s that lovely Nellie Melba puppy fat that sets me swooning: why they can’t call it that is a puzzle, yes. Smoked salmon with capers and brown onion on rye.  Yes.

Terra Felix Central Victoria La Vie En Rose 2007
$16; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 89 points
Aha! Somebody else grooves on the spirit of the rosé wines of Provence. Mourvèdre’s a main grape there, either in the full-bodied reds of Bandol, or the plethora of wicked rosés you’ll find to guzzle in the funky bouillabaisse and fish grill joints of Marseilles. Which is one wicked city… (remembers…) This is mourvèdre, or mataro as we call it. What the Spaniards call monastrell. It has a naughty little whiff of hessian above a rosy wash of maraschino cherries, pomegranite, raspberry and watermelon. Not one of your poofy Chuppa Chuppa pinks. Chèvre. Dan Murphy.

Dominique Portet Yarra Valley Cabernet Merlot Shiraz Rosé 2008
$??; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 88 points
Smelling a little of the marine dunes and pigface that typifies many Mornington Peninsula rosés, but with cranberry and pale strawberry below, this little blossom smells quite a lot more svelte and racy than it actually is. For the minute you put the sniffing business behind you, which is better done sooner with most of the crap rosé currently being factoried in Australia, the minute that pleasantry – in this case – is out of the way, you get a nice fat mouthful of fluffy, ethereal insinuations of pink fruits, like salmonberries and cranberries. And then it leaves you. No it doesn’t. Yes it does. No it doesn’t. It has little tannin, but a long, gradual declension of said berries, slightly hot alcohol, and acid. Fish’n’chips with sweet chilli sauce. JAN 09

Bay of Shoals Kangaroo Island Rosé 2008
$18; 14% alcohol; screw cap; 86 points
Made from shiraz grown on the seashore at the moody, tidal flatwater of the Bay of Shoals, with all those sea birds, this is a bright raspberry/strawberry/maraschino cherry pink of medium sweetness. It has all those juicy raspberry and fruit gum frivolities in a lush, low-acid framework. It’s clean and lively, and makes a perfect rival for the lollypop Rockford Alicante Bouchet. Which is saying something. 10 OCT 98

Cleggett Langhorne Creek Malian 2005
$14; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 85+ points
Malian is the bronze version of Mac Cleggett’s two sports of cabernet sauvignon. Made in a sort of south-of-France rosé style - think clean fresh Tavel – this wine’s meaty and spicy. Malian seems to have deliberately mutated to accompany all sorts of tapas and antipasto, but especially the smoked prosciutto, and cured sausages. After a blast of dark cherry juice, the palate’s tight and dry, with fine velvety tannins. It’s tart, but well worth cellaring.

Rookery Kangaroo Island Rosé 2008
$14; 12% alcohol; screw cap; 85 points
Based on sangiovese, and opening with an alluring bouquet like hessian and appetising, acrid phosphate, this more complex pink smelled as if it would be bone dry. It’s not quite that dry, but it’s still more interesting and facetious than most dim pinks. It seems to have some chippy oak in there somewhere, amongst the meaty sort of flavours sangiovese releases in rosé. Think pancetta, prosciutto and Iberian ham, with that lovely white fat. 10 OCT 98

Domain Day Mt Crawford One Serious Rosé 2008
$15; 12.8% alcohol; screw cap; 81 points
Cranberry. Salmonberry. Tin. Custard apple. Tamarillo. It’s a thick, complex smell for a rosé. Fritz. (Which is Barossa white pork offal sausage to have cold on white Vienna sandwich bread with lotsa salted butter and Rosella tomato sauce.) It’s all here. The palate’s thick, too, and then there’s a gap, and then there’s a sorta hot tannic aftertaste. And then there’s a layer of syrup that moves into the mouth, lies down and stays there. This is no Castagna. Is that wood? Viognier? It reminds me of one of those white blues singers with tatts and a moe who sings “I gotta woman loves me all night long” on an aggro slide tinny. Everyone knows it’s not true. But you feel for both of ’em.

Bremerton Racy Rose 2008
$16; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 80 points
This is not racy. It smells fatty and sweet and dumb. Like raw chook flesh. And it tastes like that, too: like half raw charcuterie meats, strawberries and maraschino cherries. And yep, whoever wrote on the back that it tastes like watermelon was pretty much on the mark. Watermelon with alcohol and bone dry tannin. FEB 09

Wicks Estate Adelaide Hills Rosé 2008
$15; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 77 points
Blood orange and Elvis roses, maybe some cranberry, rude pinks: this has all the key ingredients for a slutty rosé. Even some meat on the turn. Make of that what you want. But the palate’s so dumb and simply sweet that this honky brer needs to run for it. Read away. I need other stuff. A lot of people need this, though. Boy George.

Yalumba Rogers & Rufus Grenache of Barossa Rosé 2011
$18; 11% alcohol; screw cap; tasted 27 JAN 12; 70 points;
With a flesh-coloured Band Aid of cotton drill for a necktag (like Cape Jaffa) and the odd Rolls Royce R&R insinuation (like Greenock Creek’s Roennfeldt Road, and Hardy's hopeless E&E), and the line “11.0% alcohol at sea level” (like Wirra Wirra in Greg Trott’s day), and the drawings of the grapegrowers’ shoes on the front (like Trevor Smith) this release seems lost for original packaging and design inspiration.  Which leads me to the winemaking.  Considering the way the moisture-sensitive, tight-bunched Grenache surrendered to botrytis and mildew in this, the second-wettest vintage in Australian history, the vintage explanation in the propaganda sheet is of interest, too.  It doesn’t mention that Grenache thrives only in hot, dry conditions, and is particularly susceptible to bunch rot and mildew in wet seasons, but says “Cool conditions during March meant we had to pick our grapes a little later than usual but the grapes came off with delicate aromatic qualities and freshness.”  Freshness, see.  Handy in a young rosé, freshness. This PR sheet, by the way, is in the form of a comic, which is a first. (QUESTION: When Grenache is finally taking off as a serious variety, there’s a shortage of it, and somebody like these mysterious R&R growers have healthy old dry-grown bush vines, whose fruit should be worth at least $2000 a tonne if it were good, why would you pick it late for rosé at $18?) It’s fluorescently pink wine, like smoked salmon.  It smells a little like soap, or apples waxed for the cold store.  It is only modestly viscous and very slight of flavour.  Maybe the flesh pink facets of the package are there to give the illusion of the healthy fleshiness which does not appear much in the wine.  Vegans and vegetarians can drink it with impunity. I agree with the Goebbels Division which says it tastes of pomegranate.  It’s also like watermelon: “Eat, drink and wash your face all at once,” as they say of watermelons in Dixie.  It has an insinuation of chalky tannin and not much acid. It reminds me of most of the rosés of the south of France, in a difficult year. 

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