Most local rosés tend to be dreadful (OK, very good, if you insist) industrial sweet stuff of the likes of Van Four Cousins, and not surprisingly that tends to be the image that keeps more discerning winelovers away from it in droves – though with a bit of effort they could find a few delicious dry ones that could be great with lunch or a warm summer-evening supper, for example.
But even most of the dry ones tend to be a bit ho-hum. So, when Angela Lloyd and I sat down today to taste through a bunch of recently-released wines, the prospect of three rosés didn’t fill us with excited anticipation. Lo and behold, however, they were just fine, and one was even rather good – if hardly classic in terms of grape variety. That one was the Fat Bastard Pinot Noir Rosé 2014. The international Fat Bastard range is not one to normally arouse my enthusiasm, but Jacques Roux of Robertson Winery has done a lovely job with this one – though I was definitely unimpressed with his Fat Bastard Merlot 2013 with its usual combination of over-ripeness, greenness and added acidity making for an unsatisfactory drink at a whopping R100.
At about R80, the Rosé is also at the pricier end of things, but better value. It’s easily recognisable as a pinot, but a very light one, delightful, elegant and charming, with scarcely any tug on its well-balanced palate from either tannin or acidity. Officially it’s just off-dry, but effectively it is sufficiently dry to surely not cause offence to anyone. An alcohol level of scarcely more than 11% makes it all the more quaffable. The most pleasing offering from Robertson Winery that I can recall for a while.
The other two dry rosés today were rather more modestly priced, and both from predominantly Grenache – the Sutherland Grenache Rosé 2014 (R60; from Thelema’s Elgin property) entirely so. This was by quite a margin the most alcoholic of the three, though its egregious warmth wouldn’t show so much with food as it does the wine is sipped alone. Nice spicy-fruity character.
A touch more pleasing to me in its soft balance is the Solms Delta Rosé 2014, which has a smidgen of cinsaut endorsing its red-fruit freshness. This is the slightly less ambitious replacement for the Franschhoek winery’s old Lekkerwijn, and along with a Chenin Blanc (replacing the Vastrap) and a Shiraz (replacing the Langarm), is packaged with cheerily funky new labels in colours that some (like me) will think of as rather ghastly and reminiscent of 1950s formica table tops, and the majority will presumably like – if the marketers and designers know what they’re doing. This one is in light baby-pink, contrasting not very favourably, to my taste, with the more elegant old-rose colour of the screwcap on the Fat Bastard. But it’s the wine that counts of course, and this is a very drinkable, charming one, for R55.