Two Saturdays ago was wet and windy. It was a day where nothing would entice you outside. Thankfully the Capital Wine Cartel planned their ‘By Any Other Name’ Rosé wine tasting for this past sunny Saturday. This was Wellington on a good day. Hurrah.
The Capital Wine Cartel is five Wellington wine bars that have banded together for the ‘advancement of food, wine and fun’. Bars include: Ancestral, St John’s, Vivo, Matterhorn and Arbitrageur.
By Any Other Name was the cartel’s inaugural event to welcome summer and promote rosés in all it’s shades and flavours. On Saturday 10 November four of the five members were pouring rosé for free from 4 until 7. Tomorrow, Tuesday 13 November, Vivo will be doing their bit with a free wine tasting, an after-party tasting, as it were.
I made it to Ancestral, Matterhorn and Arbitrageur, sampling fifteen rosés in total. Here is my take on things. (The short story: we are spoilt for choice.)
All the wines served at Ancestral were biodynamic, all were dry. As most Kiwi rosés come from the South Island, the team at Ancestral intentionally picked four New Zealand North Island rosés and two Europeans.
Severino Garofano Giroflé Negroamaro Rosé 2011
The Negroamaro as a variety is classified as earthy and bitter. This rosé lived up to its anticipated descriptors, a very bitter wine that would have been well matched with food. A charming and interesting wine that made me want to try the wine as a red to see its fuller expression.
Hermitage Saint-Martin Côtes de Provence Rosé 2011
A faint salmon pink colour the Grenache was big on flavour and texture. The aromas were all very white wine fruits and florals, but the flavour was still very much the spice and tannins of a red wine.
Cambridge Road Papillon Rosé 2011
A 96% PN, 4% Syrah blend. This was a very dry wine with juicy, chewy tannins and an exceptionally long finish. A wine to linger over. There were plenty of fruity notes including strawberry, orange peel and cherry. A gorgeous, complex wine.
Milton Gisborne Rosé 2012
With the fruit forward nature of this rosé, this big, round wine is most like a classic New Zealand rosé. Well matched to the beautiful sun shiny day it was enjoyed on. The wine is completely bone dry with notes of cinnamon, spice and berries.
Heron’s Flight Un Bacio d’Alba Dolcetto Rosé 2012
Richly coloured pink and orange this is a seriously dry wine. It gives little away on the nose but you get a hit of citrus and apple on the palate. Aerate the wine and get a massive punch of Granny Smith apples.
Hay Paddock Syrah Silk Rosé 2012
This was a something-special, secret addition to the tasting. At 100% Waiheke Island Syrah this wine was not at all what you would expect from a pink-tinged wine. This is a serious dry red wine, with a slightly diluted colour. A nice wine with sweet and sour notes with lots of lemon and blood orange.
The sun had set, the courtyard cleared and the wood stove was being stoked. The excess charred aroma in the air challenged my ability to really get the most out of these wines, so apologies for the brevity.
Ata Rangi Summer Rosé 2012
This was a Merlot dominant rosé, a fruity and crisp rosé. This was most affected by the wood stove as I was picking up flavours and aromas that have no place in a summer-inspired rosé. Will have to try this again on another day.
Guigal Côtes-du-Rhône Rosé 2010
This was another Grenache predominant wine but it couldn’t have been more of a contrast from the one we tried at Ancestral. This Grenache was tomato stalks and black olives. I even got some skunky notes on this one. This was the closest I came to disliking one of the rosés tasted.
Amisfield Saignée Rosé 2012
This was a group favourite. 100% PN. This is what you think of when you see a pink wine. The initial impression was one of candy floss and sugary sweetness. Made in the saignee method, the sweetness was offset by the acidity present. As you explored the wine some more you got notes of roses, strawberry and plum. Very fruity, very fun.
We were very well taken care of at Arbitrageur. Taken through the range of rosés on offer, we needed food by this point and a gorgeous cheese was procured that suited the wines nicely. As we were taken through the tasting we were able to indulge in asking questions and getting answers to our every winey curiosity. We also got to try the Seresin Estate sulfite-free Sauvignon Blanc 2011, which threatened to be a show stealer.
Quartz Reef Brut Rosé NV
This 100% Pinot Noir sparkler had a funky palate with a lot of crisp and crunchy red apple notes.I found this quite similar to the Quartz Reef Brut. I believe this was part inexperience with bubbles and part fermentation yeast-y expression that was shared by both varieties.
Elephant Hill Alexandra Pinot Rosé 2011
100% PN, but a Central Otago rosé from Alexandra, using grapes from the 3 Miners vineyard. A Feminine style. Cinnamon, strawberry, lots of fruit. Earthiness comes through at the very end.
Wooing Tree Rosé 2011
Another saignee* style rosé, this one served in a half bottle. Paul from Arbitrageur said the combination of this being a ladies who lunch special, the half bottle made it an easy sell. Very red in colour, the Wooing tree was quite fruity and sweet with notes of peaches and strawberry as well as an underlying earthiness.
Cambridge Road Papillon Rosé 2011
This was a repeat from Ancestral. In a different context this was a dry, masculine wine with very little fruit. This was still thoroughly enjoyable.
Château de Sours Bordeaux Rosé 2010
This Spanish tempranillo looked a lot like cherry kool aid (Cherry cordial for the Kiwis). There was plenty of cherry on the nose and on the palate. Well-structured tannins and red wine characteristics. Breathing air into the wine made it sugary sweet.
Rosado de Silos Ribera del Duero Tempranillo Rosé 2010
Merlot and Cab Franc, predominatly Merlot. Again I got a rosé with a really skunky nose that overshadowed any other flavours or aromas.
* the saignee method is the practice of removing some of the free run juice from the pressing of red wines in order to more deeply concentrate the phenolics, colour and flavour the red wine. (Wikipedia)