A guide to Aussie Rosé

Nick Willcock May 17, 2021

A guide to Australian Rosé | Wine Brothers HK

More than just a pink drink! 

I love Rosé - the colour, the crispness, then there are those with strawberries and others with a sort of creaminess. A cool, refreshing drink that is usually quite dry with, sometimes, a piercing sweetness - that somehow works out so well. But why do we love this drink so? Isn’t it just a white and a red combined?

Actually, no. To summarise the winemaking into a few lines (and probably annoy those who do this as a profession!): a white wine is produced off the grape skins, and a red wine is produced on the skins. The colour of the skin leaches onto the grape juice inside the pulp and stains it red - the longer on skins, the more colour. So a Rosé is a red wine grape that only stains the juice a little, and with that colour also comes a small amount of tannin and some of the more subtle flavours of red grapes that are often lost by the big bold flavours from extended time on skin.   

A guide to Australian Rosé | Wine Brothers HK

The colour extraction for a rosé is at the start of the grape crush where alcohol is low - this more aqueous (watery) solution draws out more flavour and colour over tannin (which is most effectively extracted with higher levels of alcohol during and after fermentation). This is referred to as the ‘short maceration’ technique for Rosé winemaking. Are there other ways? Absolutely. It’s called ‘Saignee’*.

So, now that the theory is out of the way, is there much difference between Rosé wines? Absolutely, and increasingly restaurants and bars are offering multiple by the glass Rosé wines. Say you roll up to a restaurant that has our Deep Woods Estate and Spectacle Rosé wines by the glass, and for the same price, what do you do?

Deep Woods Estate 'Silver' Rosé. $230 | Wine Brothers HK
'Silver' Rosé, Deep Woods Estate. Margaret River, WA. Wine Brothers HK

The Deep Woods Estate Rosé has been a staple in my house for quite a while now. Its expressive fruit character, with a hint of oxidative winemaking, gives more complexity and pairability to this wine. Oxygen in winemaking is a double edged sword - too much kills a wine (vinegar is created by alcohol reacting to oxygen), too little and the yeast becomes strained and leave a reductive (read: barnyard, animal aromatics) aroma which can go from interesting to unappealing very quickly. Here, Julian Langworthy (the winemaker) has done a slow fermentation at cool temperatures with controlled oxidation to help the flavours integrate. Some barrel fermentation for the vermentino gives a savoury aspect, whilst the shiraz and tempranillo provides fruitiness and spice.

Deep Woods Estate Rosé. $230 | Wine Brothers HK'Silver' Rosé, Deep Woods Estate. Margaret River, WA. Wine Brothers HK

These grapes were handpicked, tended to very carefully and slowly extracted to give this salmon-orange hue. In short, no expense spared. This Rosé would give anything from the Rhone valley down to Provence a run for its money. Herein is a beautiful wine that can go with a little food, or none, and still produce a refreshing beautiful wine. Just picture where it’s from - Margaret River - with the beautiful Fremantle Doctor rolling in, salinity in the air, ending a long day making fine wines. We can see why Jules wants to drink it!

The Spectacle Rosé. $140 | Wine Brothers HK
Rosé, The Spectacle. South Australia. Wine Brothers HK

McLaren Vale’s The Spectacle Rosé prides itself on bang for your buck - let the tasting do the talking. Sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon take up the bulk of the blend for this wine, and that doesn’t surprise anyone coming from one of Australia’s warmest mediteranean climates for grape growing. Picked a little early to retain the acidity and fermented in stainless steel tanks means the floral aspect to this wine is fantastic and light. Just to make it even more like a summer fruit salad - the 5% pinot grigio is co-fermented with the two big red grapes for a more floral lift to this beautifully refreshing wine.

It’s dry, but with a slither of residual sugar, making the wine more round on the palette. McLaren Vale fruit purity and expressiveness really comes out in this wine, as compared to the French style and subtleties of the Deep Woods Estate. Aussie ‘new age’ winemaking goes against the classics, where Margaret River has always put itself forward as being a slightly warmer Bordeaux climate and techniques in the cellar have always followed suit. A super refreshing drop, and as the days get warmer I’ll be gravitating toward this one as ripe fresh fruit and acidity quenches your thirst after a long day in Hong Kong.

Australian Rosé Collection - Wine Brothers HK
Australian Rosé for Hong Kong. Wine Brothers HK

Rosé will undoubtedly evolve and become more highly regarded in the wine ratings. For years, they’ve been a near after-thought where bars have to have one...but less thought went into which one. For the simple fact that they are not to be aged (for the most part) - means if it ain’t fresh, you’re losing out! So buy young, and drink now!


*Saignee: in the production of a red wine, the juice is bled off to concentrate the red and make a secondary wine being the Rosé, and the final technique being a blending of a white and red wine together. The blending technique is rarely seen outside of sparkling wines (for reasons that are far beyond this topic!) and is actually illegal in some countries.