The ongoing debate in France is Provence rosé vs. the Loire Valley. But to put our own spin on it, how about English rosé vs. French rosé? Don’t shut down your browser page just yet, English rosé may be more of a newcomer, but there are so many reasons to add it to your summer afternoon wine line up. Read on for our ultimate masterclass on what to pair with English rosé, which English rosés have the organic edge, and what English rosés to stock up on for the balmiest evenings. Santé (that’s to your health, in French).
What’s the difference between English rosé and French rosé?
Did you know that rosé is actually one of the world’s oldest wines? While most of us associate today’s rosés with the light, peachy numbers of Provence, the ancient Greeks were the real pioneers. It wasn’t until the Romans landed in Aix-en-Provence, way back in at the end of the 2nd century, that they brought the blend of red and white grapes to France which evolved into the rosés we drink today. So what makes the English climate ideal for rosé growing? The French regions of Provence, Tavel and the Loire have just the right amount of sunlight, wind and rain perfect for rosé growing – and across the channel this cooler, windier climate is replicated in areas like Kent, Sussex and Suffolk. France’s Champagne region has the same soil as south east England, which is the reason English rosés have a crisp acidity similar to champagne, while Provence rosés are often complex and dry, with tangerine and grapefruit flavours.
They’re not worlds apart though: English rosés do have some similarities to their French counterparts, namely that they’re both dry, light, charming, and go down all too easily with a long lunch. For the English equivalent to your Cotes de Provence fix, try Chapel Down’s English rosé. Grown in the heart of the ‘Garden of England’ close to the market town of Tenterden, it’s the closest thing you’ll find to an English summer day bottled. Plus, you’ll be supporting an excellent English grower (did you know Chapel Down are also the official supplier to No 10 Downing Street?). Just as the coasts of Cornwall, Suffolk and Sussex have become staycation replacements for the Mediterranean and the South of France over lockdown, rosé wines of the English riviera are fast catching up with Provence. Make sure you catch the wave early.
What should I pair with English rosé?
You’re in for a surprise. The obvious pairings for English rosé are seafoods like lobster and tuna and rich duck sauces. But also, less predictably: kebabs (stay with me). In the same way that equals and opposites attract, the lighter, crisper, acidic qualities of English rosé enjoy bolder, brasher pairings. Pair your rosé with lamb (marinated in garlic, lemon and oregano), chicken tikka or lemon prawn kebabs. Feeling experimental? Throw a few unusual flavours into the mix like glazed pineapple, melon or peach with prosciutto, basil and mozzarella. Then simply sit back and let the flavours of your English rosé come to life. Bon appétit.
Is English rosé better than French rosé?
While we would never knock a Provence rosé (in fact, we’re huge fans) a little healthy competition was never a bad thing. There are a few English rosés which are excellent challengers to their French counterparts, which is exactly why we put three English rosés to the test in our English vs Provence Rosé Case. Chateau Ollieres is a smooth, delicate refresher (what do you expect? It’s French) packed with red berries. We pitted it against elegant and playful Essex-grown Toppesfield, which proved a more than worthy opponent. Peachy Cotes de Provence Le Pigeonnier meets its match in Oxney’s Pinot Noir – a combination of strawberries and cream that’ll leave you smiling all day long. And finally, high-octane Ultimate Cotes de Provence rosé goes up against the quintessential English rosé – Albury Silent Pool, with a long, mouth-watering finish. The best part? To add a bit of fun to your next dinner part we’ve included a scorecard, so you can put them to the test yourself.
What makes English rosé more sustainable?
Biodynamic, low-intervention and organic are all buzzwords in the wine world at the moment, with sustainably-focused wine bars popping up all over London. But where do English wine producers come into this, and is English rosé more sustainable? As with most things, buying from smaller batch British producers reduces the carbon footprint which goes into transport. But if you’re particularly interested in sustainable and organic wines, get your rosé fix this summer from Sussex-grown Oxney Pinot Noir rosé. A gem of an organic wine producer, Oxney grapes are grown close to the English Channel and River Rother. On just 35 acres of vines, Oxney have led the low-intervention charge, producing 20% of all organic grapes grown in the UK. Its grapes are hand picked, pressed in small batches in a converted Grade II listed square oast house, and made using wild ferments and natural yeasts. Plus, its biomass heat is cleverly generated using woodchips sourced from Oxney’s own woodlands. So you can drink your pink wine, safe in the knowledge that it’s actually pretty green.
English rosé for a special occasion:
Move aside, Whispering Angel: the Queen’s choice of British tipple is Albury’s organic Silent Pool, a bestseller of last summer and served on the Royal Barge for the Diamond Jubilee in 2012. To entertain in royal style, you really couldn’t do any better.
If it’s not a special occasion to you unless a cork pops, how about an English sparkling rosé? Kingscote’s sparkling rosé (also one of our best value wines at under £20 a bottle) is one of those magical all-rounders which transitions from canapés and light bites for a mid-morning reception to balmy evenings around a fire-cooked feast, or dancing under twinkly lights. Combine this fresh, fruity crowd pleaser with good company, wood-fired pizza and a warm English afternoon and watch the magic happen.
When it comes to Christmas (we know, we know – it’s early in the year to be mentioning the C word) we’re of the opinion that sparkling rosé isn’t just for summer. Just as a bottle of sparkling rosé can add the sparkle to a summer garden party, it also brings that extra something to festive celebrations. If you want to put an English-grown twist on your festive family gatherings, office New Year’s Eve party or Christmassy cocktails, Kingscote is also a guaranteed hit. Pour into flutes, and garnish with raspberries or cranberries to bring out its wintery side.
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