A few years ago, a beautiful volume called Rosévin – Historien, vinerna och maten därtill landed on our bookstore shelves and the timing couldn’t have been much better. Rosé wine had been a crushing success in Sweden. We wrote about the hype in a column called Pretty in Pink, and the media were all over the shimmering, still somewhat generic summer drink. Rosé wine was, however, not a sudden mayfly, increasingly gaining shelf space year by year, and it turned into a wine that would have a long lasting relationship with Swedish consumers. The author of the book, Anders Melldén, a leading wine journalist in Sweden, predicted what was about to happen long before writing the book, but what happened after the release in 2016 is maybe even more interesting.
“When I wrote the book I focused very much on the “Provence-style” which has flooded the market since then. The last one or two years myself and many other wine lovers have been looking for exciting wines in other styles, like the darker rosés from Tavel, Bordeaux, parts of Spain and Italy. It’s also fantastic to see how the borders have been erased. Today you find light red wine that could go as a dark rosé, and skin macerated pinot gris that sometimes are sold as orange but could also go as rosé”.
I’ve met Anders on numerous occasions, from my study desk at the sommelier education at Vinkällan to tastings, wine maker lunches and seminars, and he has always come across as a humble, yet very sharp wine expert and connoisseur. With a list of clients like Svenska Dagbladet/Perfect Guide, Sweden’s second largest daily newspaper, and *Gourmet* food and wine magazine, the wine magazine Livets Goda, and the spirits magazine *Whisky & Bourbon*, his expertise is well recognised. Since this column is focusing on rosé wine this time, I wanted to pick his brain a little more. Rosé wine has different methods of manufacture, but there are a few certain things that are always considered and needed for its production.
“Rosé wines are made with blue grapes with very short to short maceration of the skins. One decade ago rosé wine was often made with the winemakers ‘left hand’, from leftovers when making reds. Now it has become a product made with the same respect as white or red. I love the variation, from pale golden to dark pink, as long as the wine is seriously made and dry, and I normally pick the rosé depending on the food. For a lighter fish or vegetable dish I would pick a light rosé with a lot of ‘white wine feeling’ and with the grilled meat dish I would prefer a dark clairet from Bordeaux with some more tannins.
What is the first and foremost rosé wine and food combination no one should miss out on?
Rosé is so great with lots of food, but right now I’m thinking about a Spanish dark rosé with paella, or the French pissaldière with Provence rosé.
And your best ever rosé moment?
Wine wise, Garrus from Sascha Lichine is an incredible wine – a barrel fermented Grenache rosé of top quality (and top price) but the best rosé is always the crisp fresh glass served at a ski resort at the after ski in March, just as the sun is beginning to warm up the snow.
Anders has been working as a wine journalist since 2002, having studied at the Poppius School of Journalism. Beverage and business magazines are his regular clients and his interest in food and beverages comes from a previous career in the restaurant business, both as a sommelier with qualifications from the Restaurant Academy in Stockholm, and training in food and beverage at IMI in Lucerne, Switzerland. Traveling as a wine journalist has taken him across the globe so he knows by now what grape varieties or regions stand out.
“France is still the rosé country number one, especially the southern parts like Provence, Tavel and Languedoc. In Provence I look for the grape Tibouren which is called Rossese on the Italian side where it’s used for fantastic light red and dark rosé wines with lovely perfume. But most Provence rosés are blends, very often with Grenache as the main variety. I also enjoy drinking good rosé from Loire and Burgundy made of Pinot Noir. Give the wine a year or two and it will almost get the same characters as the reds”.
Where in the world is rosé wine most popular and why?
The USA is a big rosé consuming market. Both because of its big population and because of the trend of drinking lighter Provence style rosés – a trend that started around 2010. Sweden is, with its small population, one of the top five markets for Provence rosé. So we are also a very important market! Rosé is still connected with summer, sun and vacation which means that in holiday resorts it will always be popular.
Would you say that rosé wine is only for the summer or has Systembolaget a good assortment all year around?
Even talking to owners of big Provence wineries like Minuty, rosé is still a summer drink – they sell almost all their wines from March to July. And at Systembolaget the more interesting wines are only released in small quantities in spring and summer. So even if I am trying to present rosé as an all year wine, it’s still a summer drink – except for the sparkling rosés from Champagne.
Coming into the wine writer path through his own newsletters, Anders is now working full-time as freelance writer, editor, chief editor and project manager in the media. He’s the noted wine expert for the radio channel P4 Uppland. As mentioned above, he’s also a lecturer for sommeliers-to-be at the Scandinavian Wine Academy (Vinkällan) which gives him a certain position from which to recognise upcoming wine trends in the restaurant world.
How would you say rosé wine is considered by sommeliers in restaurants today?
Still it’s a bit split, but young sommeliers tend to like the more “natural” rosés, and the trend is going towards lighter wines where rosé is perfect. And from a commercial point of view rosé is super important in restaurants, especially during a hot spring and summer like this year, so not taking it seriously is just stupid.
Anders lists three rarely know facts about rosé wine:
– In Sweden we buy more than 15 million litres of rosé every year at Systembolaget. More than two thirds are sold during the summer months.
– Most rosés today are very light pink – gris in French – due to a really short maceration, only in the press, which means about one-hour skin contact of the blue grapes. Most wine, literally, is still taking its 24-36 hours like it used to be many years ago.
– Oeil de Perdrix (French) or Occhio di Pernice (Italian) means Eye of the Partridge and is a term used historically for rosé wine. It originates from the colour of the wild bird’s eye when killed during hunting.
Anders three rosé favorites at Systembolaget:
– Whispering Angel from Sacha Lichine (Nr. 94044, 169 kr). One of the wines that started the big trend of Provence Rosé in the US. And it’s really good!
– Umathum Rosa (Nr. 94037, 149 kr) from biodynamic producer Umathum in Austria. Very tasty with a bit more colour.
– Les Lauzeraies Tavel (Nr. 2724, 119 kr). A darker rosé from the village neighboring Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe in southern Rhône. Serious and great to poultry or grilled pork. Can be kept in the cellar one to three years.
Photo (bottles): Pär Strömberg
Photo (portrait of Anders): Göran Henckel