Graham Beck The Rhona Brut Rosé, Western Cape NV
In a summer wine column in The Gloss I nominated The Rhona as one of my favourite sparkling rosés. Now, in the depths of winter, I’m turning to it again, having poured a few glasses the other day for neighbours who dropped in for mince pies. It’s a delicious pink fizz to please all palates – perfect for parties where you want to make a splash yet affordable enough to pop open guiltlessly any time a celebration is called for.
From Graham Beck, a South African winery with a long-established reputation for high-quality sparkling wines, The Rhona Brut Rosé is made from the two main champagne grapes, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, in exactly the same, complicated way as champagne, with a second fermentation in bottle followed by a period of maturation during which the wine is left in contact with the yeast lees. Whereas this method is known in the Champagne region as the Méthode Champenoise, South Africa calls it the Méthode Cap Classique.
With likeable notes of strawberries, cranberries and shortbread balanced by refreshing acidity, The Rhona has a similar flavour profile to many rosé champagnes – maybe with a touch less toastiness. Oh, but there’s one huge difference. Look at the price. No rosé champagne in Ireland comes remotely close – and those that do are pretty grim. Top new world sparklers like this one are always an infinitely better buy.
The Rhona makes a glamorous aperitif (drop a couple of frozen cranberries in the bottom of each glass for a festive touch). It will also go well with cold meats, duck or goose, Asian dishes with a sweet/sour element, red fruit or dark chocolate desserts or… yes, any lingering mince pies.
Happy new year!
From Marks & Spencer, €15