It’s fair to say that many UK residents don’t have that Friday feeling today. It’s an unusual time of change, for better or worse which I certainly haven’t seen before in my lifetime. I wasn’t going to post an article this week but Alan suggested that as the weekend’s coming we could all certainly do with a drink! The smells from the garden are heavenly and the evenings are ridiculously long. It’s a once a year treat and I don’t want it to pass us by without appreciating it to the full! So in a bid to distance myself from the opinions of Politicians and the explosion of political opinions on Facebook, I intend to embrace everything that summer has to offer. Which includes eating outside and staying out there long after the sun goes down. We’ve been quite lucky this year as we’ve managed to use the BBQ many more times than we did last year. In fact the beech leaves next to it looks a little scorched as a result of Alan’s grilling prowess.
Hand in hand with alfresco dining for me is pink wine and I have a few beauties for you to try, whichever side of the Euro fence you have chosen to sit. One to start the evening off with is a wonderful home grown fizz from Kent. Hush Heath Estate, near Tonbridge boasts 400 acres of vineyards, apple orchards and oak woodland. And while they make many still wines and ciders, it’s their rosé fizz that I want to tell you about. There are two that are on the shelves at the moment and both are delightful.
The first is Balfour 1503 Rosé and is so called as the estate dates back to 1503 and is the home of the Balfour-Lynn family. Made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, this English sparkling rosé has been made using the traditional Champagne method. You don’t need to have food to try this invitingly fruity rosé. When you taste it, you get a burst of red currant accompanied by strawberries, raspberries and even a squeeze of sweet pink grapefruit. I tried this wine on people that often need convincing about English wine… And they loved it!
Their other sparkling rosé that’s worth a shout is the Balfour 2012 Brut Rosé. A stylish and delicate wine, it has a salmon pink in colour. It’s made from the same grapes as the 1503 but has a slightly spicier hint to it and has a delicate strawberry nose and taste. A little bit pepperier than the 1503, this wine is still elegant and streets ahead of where English wine was just a few years ago. If barbecueing salmon, or even serving the smoked variety, this wine is for you.
Once you’re ready to move on from fizz, there’s a real Provencal treat that I feel your summer wouldn’t be complete without. The wine comes courtesy of an English family who made the move south the delightful area of Cotignac. Stephen and Jenny Cronk swapped 15 years of corporate life to turn the dream of moving to France to make their own wine into a reality. So they left the leafy suburbs of South-West London in August 2009 and headed for the heart of Provence. They pulled together a highly experienced winemaking team including a good friend of mine and master of wine Jo Ahearne who like me has a penchant for rosé, to say the least!
I’m a big fan of decent Provencal rosés and Mirabeau have a couple of absolute stunners that your summer will not be complete without. A sundrenched weekend lunch can be turned into an afternoon to remember with Mirabeau Classic Rosé 2015. The wine is made from grapes on the stunning hillside vineyards south-east of Aix-en-Provence. It has a wild strawberry, character. It actually reminded me of foraging in my parent’s garden as a kid looking for those sweet jewels in the borders. Full of red fruit character, the dry, fresh acidity gives a surprisingly lengthy finish. We enjoyed it with various tapas style dishes but it goes best with a combination of seafood and spicy sausage like chorizo. Blissful. This little stunner has been awarded a Gold Medal at this year’s International Wine Challenge. In excess of 400 rosés were entered and only 4 won gold.
And if you fancy something a bit different, Pure Mirabeau is a really interesting sip. Made from grapes in the higher vineyards of the Côtes de Provence, it has the typical inviting pale colour of a wine from the area and a taste laced with fresh, ripe cherries. Tangy and vibrant, I don’t feel you need food here. Just a relaxing situation where you can nestle in the wine’s charms. And at this point I feel I need to add, while I love pink wines when the sun is shining, I also adore them in the winter. Not a Christmas Day goes by without us opening some rosé with our smoked salmon. So don’t feel you can’t get involved after the leaves have left the branches.
So in short, however you’re feeling this weekend, or in the months to come, raise a smile and raise a glass to democracy. Whatever your views, we’re a richer nation because of it.
Balfour 1503 Rosé is available at Majestic Wine Warehouses across the country and online at £24.99 per bottle or at £19.99 on the mixed 6 deal.
Balfour Brut Rosé 2012 can be found in Waitrose in store and online at £35.99 per bottle.
Mirabeau Classic 2015 is £9.79 and Mirabeau Pure is £12.99 and are both stocked in Waitrose and online.