There’s more to pink wine than meets the eye. The colour is a factor, certainly, but so too is the packaging and the label according to CHEERS magazine’s most recent tasting.

Panel: Fiona McDonald, Julia Moore, Elvina Fortuin, Dee Griffin and Kelly Hill

That the array of rosé wines set before the panel would be refreshing and succulent was a given. What surprised the tasters was the array of grapes the wines were made from, firstly, and how attractive the packaging was. There was almost more discussion about the merits of the various labels and capsules than there was about the wine’s intrinsic charms.

When it came to visual appeal the Darling Cellars Pyjama Bush and Vinologist were the clear favourites, the latter because of its point of difference – almost like a comic or graphic novel in its presentation. The merits of gunmetal grey capsule with gold text (Visio Vintners) versus Barbie Pink (Darling Cellars Pyjama Bush) were debated with most in favour of the restraint and contrast of the former.

What about the grapes? Those ranged from pinotage, merlot and syrah to cinsaut, grenache noir and sauvignon blanc. So producers are only limited by their own plantings and imagination when it comes to pinks. And talking of pink, there was obviously discussion about the variations in colour. Strandveld vineyards First Sighting was the deepest and “darkest” of the lot, with most of the others tending more towards the coral, salmon and even faint blush at the reverse end of the spectrum.

One interesting comment was that the lightest wine – with the subtlest suggestion of pink – was said to be “ so light, it looks as if it’ll taste thin”. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case for the Kanonkop Kadette pinotage rosé, the wine in question, because it had more than enough structure and length to impress.

Overall, an exciting category which offered more drinking pleasure than initially expected. “It’s the perfect wine for an occasion when you don’t necessarily want an oaked white, an acidic sauvignon blanc but also when a red, even a light red, would be too much,” said Dee Griffin. It’s a bit of Goldilocks wine style: not too much, not too little – just right!

Darling Cellars Reserve Pyjama Bush rosé 2022

Mainly (96%) sauvignon blanc with a token dab of 4% grenache, and consequently vivid with bright succulence. Julia noted trademark sauvignon flavour of elderflower beneath the obvious cherry/berry elements. Light and delicious. “I really liked it,” said Elvina, “maybe because it’s mostly sauvignon blanc.”.

Porcupine Ridge
rosé 2022

The primary grape used in this wine is cinsaut – and consequently the berry vibrance is pronounced. It’s also got a bit of syrah (or shiraz) blended in which helps with the overall structure and texture of the wine. It had good palate weight and mouthfeel, Fiona said. The grip and length helped keep the red fruit and cherry/berry flavours front of mind.

Visio Vintners cinsaut rosé 2022

“Watermelon!” said Kelly – and everyone agreed. “Just tastes like more …” Elvina commented. Bold red fruit and raspberry/blueberry nose and palate with Dee liking its almost lime zest twist and tang. Julia said this would be a fantastic picnic basket wine because it’s made for all outdoor occasions.

Vinologist Swartland dry rosé 2022

Not surprising that this wine is also a blend of cinsaut with a splash of syrah, because it’s from the same stable of wines as Porcupine Ridge. “All the berries!” said Elvina – blueberries, raspberries, strawberries … but balanced by fresh acidity and substance or texture on the palate. Rounded with good tannin grip and a long finish, Fiona found.

Kanonkop Kadette pinotage rosé 2022

Tempting delicate floral aroma that leads to a palate boasting strawberry, raspberry and ripe cherry flavours. But it remains both juicy and dry – never sweet. Despite its dryness, Dee found tropical fruit hints, even a touch of mango, again refreshing and succulent.

The Wolftrap
rosé 2022

A sibling to the Porcupine Ridge, cinsaut and syrah again feature in this wine, but blended with grenache noir too. Once again, berries to the fore but Fiona found a tasty ruby grapefruit twist which balanced it nicely. Good dryness with light body, succulence, nice grip and a long, leesy tail.

Strandveld First Sighting rosé 2021

Almost equal parts of shiraz and grenache (46/42) are blended with 12% of cinsaut for this wine. Notably reddish pink and deep coloured, the nose showed dusty rose petals while the palate showed plum juiciness and appeal. Another wine with an extra year in bottle which had contributed to good body and texture. “Quite serious,” said Dee, “with a long impressive finish.”

Darling Cellars Classic merlot rosé 2022

Big black cherry or kirsch liqueur notes on both the nose and the palate, Fiona noted. Dee found tropical fruit with even a fresh banana hint but Elvina thought it remained juicy and charming with bright, vibrant freshness and berry character. “Good lees element too,” she said.

Darling Cellars Old Bush Vine
cinsaut rosé 2021

With an extra year in bottle this wine had an edge on all but the First Sighting. It was still succulent but there was a red caramel nuance which was especially tempting. Kelly found guava notes, Julia blossoms and Elvina stone fruit.