Best Rosés of 2023 in New Zealand

, from Issue #111. September 15, 2023
Best Rosés of 2023 in New Zealand

Every shade and style of rosé made its way to the latest dish Tasting Panel and our judges were wowed by the quality. Here are their picks for the best of the best!

I always get excited for our rosé panels because not only is it one of the tastiest styles, but it’s by far the prettiest. When those rows of glasses appear in front of our judges, it’s fair to say the tasting table becomes a riot of colour with every shade of pink – from the ultra-pale to soft apricot, to trout pink, morganite, rose gold, bright crimson and ruby on display. Every flavour style appeared too, from wines that are so bony

and dry they’re practically skeletal, to rich, voluptuous, fruit-soaked, sweeter styles, elegant sparkling examples, wild, funky oxidative examples and everything in between.

And there’s nothing bland or blousy about the state of New Zealand’s rosé industry, because at 120 entries, it’s fair to say it’s not just growing, it’s positively hurtling along. At the time of tasting, many wineries were just about to bottle their 2023 vintages, so by the time spring rolls into summer, rosé fans will have an even more supercharged smorgasbord of pink deliciousness to choose from.

Rosé is going gangbusters globally. One in10 bottles of wine consumed worldwide is a bottle of rosé. This rises to one in three bottles in France, the world’s biggest rosé wine consumer. One in three! They’ve worked out that’s 20 bottles of

rosé per year consumed by every French adult and rosé now outsells red wine by a country mile. The Brits love rosé too! Particularly when the temperatures rise. According to Majestic – Britain’s largest wine retailer – during a heatwave in 2022, they sold one bottle every 12 seconds!

Seventeen golds, 22 silvers and 47 bronze medals were awarded, an incredible haul of heavy metal as our judges are tough. And they came from every corner of the country.

“Fantastic rosé is being produced up and down the country,” says judge Nick Picone. “It’s not monopolised by one region or variety and there’s clearly a huge diversity of styles.” That diversity excites Jordan Robinson: “I think NZ should continue to try to explore different winemaking techniques to champion the category. Potential oxidative handling techniques kept coming to mind throughout the tasting and

it was exciting to taste such open, savoury examples focused on creating textural intrigue more than anything.”

Damian agrees. “The industry is clearly taking the category more seriously and putting more effort into crafting these wines, he said. “The trend for paler colours and drier styles is continuing and I noticed more freshness, purity and delicacy in the wines without sacrificing flavour.”

And making great rosé is not an easy task. You’d assume that vineyards producing great red wines should make excellent rosé, but it’s not that simple. “The production of rosé can get very technical,” explains Nick, “moreso than most other wine styles. The trick is managing the colour and phenolic pick up at the press to ensure the juice arrives at fermentation in a good place.

“Having clean, bright juice and appropriate yeast strains can have a significant impact on the final product,” he adds. “Nailing the correct colour palette seems to be the hardest thing I’ve found,” muses Jordan. “Especially in high disease- pressure years when you’re trying your best to maintain crisp, primary fruit but also having to think of ways to add a bit more body, hips and flesh to it adds a bit more pressure.”

So which grapes make the greatest rosé? Varieties that have inherent aromatics and don’t liberate their colour too quickly are most suited to making rosé,” says Damian. “Pinot noir, cabernet franc and grenache are good examples, but if I had to choose one variety, it’d be tempranillo.” Nick nominated pinot noir because its thinner skins make it easier to manage in terms of phenolics and colour.

Great rosé must have tension and persistence, adds Jordan. “The nose should offer more than just strawberries and cream. When you taste a great rosé, your mind almost tricks you into thinking you’re indulging in a fun, textural white or a chillable, crunchy red. It should make you want to feel like dancing as well!”

The highest scores went to wines which were bright, vibrant, focused and refreshing, according to Damian: “They were full of energy and life with excellent length and persistence as opposed to being broad, dull, flat, boring and overly sweet.”

When it comes to having a perfect rosé mood or food, anything goes. Even beloved television cook, the late Julia Child was a massive rosé fan, declaring her love for its diversity and versatility: “Rosé can be served with anything!” We agree Julia. We agree!


1.(Equal) Bladen Marlborough Pinot Noir Rosé 2022 ($30) – Gold Medal

All judges seemed to pause for longer than usual to marvel at the pale, pink diamond colour, and noses lingered longer in the glass. Lifted mineral and soft herb characters and delicately spicy energy seems to vibrate from the glass right through to its dry, subtly savoury, citrusy finish. Cheerful, cleansing and incredibly classy, it’s a superstar.


1.(Equal) M.A.U Wines Pink Ensemble Clevedon Rosé 2022 ($30) – Gold Medal

A truly complex, modern, mix-em-up style that had our judges talking immediately. Ultra-pale and showing Provence-style peppercorn, spice and delicate red fruit flavours alongside nutty notes, dried herb and smoked citrus zest followed by a long biscuity finish. Fun and funky.


2.Jackson Estate Alayna Marlborough Pinot Rosé 2022 ($21) – Gold Medal

An absolute classic in terms of its pink salmony hue, hugely floral aromas, zesty stonefruit and citrus crunchiness, this rosé impressed our judges with its softly herbaceous tones, statuesque structure and lengthy, stylish finish.


3.Saint Clair Origin Marlborough Rosé 2022 ($20) – Gold Medal

‘Purity’ was a word our judges mentioned time and time again when describing this wine. Apple, redcurrant, delicate dried herb characters on the nose and palate and grippy, elastic tannins add complexity and texture to the finish. Delicious!


4.Equilibrium Martinborough Rosé 2022 ($30) – Gold Medal

Hands up if you’re seeking a classically dry, textural, nutty rosé style dripping with soft spices and wild red fruits? Then here’s your answer. With intriguing mineral layers and citrusy complexity on the finish, this is a wine you should be noticing. Exciting.


5.Marisco The King’s Desire Marlborough Pinot Noir Rosé 2022 ($29) – Gold Medal

Excellent clarity of flavours had our judges continually going back to this wine. Melon, berry tea, pink fruit and minerally complexity lead to a lipsmackingly dry, lengthy finish. Brimming with personality and pluck, it’s a star.


6.Tohu Nelson Rosé 2022 ($18) – Gold Medal

Beautiful balance and precision is what immediately stands out in this wine. Soft, plush and yet clean and defined flavour appears in every sip. It’s a pale rosé that our judges felt was developing very nicely in the bottle, but should be enjoyed pronto!


7.Villa Maria Attorney Marlborough Pinot Noir Rosé 2022 ($29) – Gold Medal

Fresh, vibrant and incredibly fragrant, it’s the cherry blossom, canteloup and citrus characers which wowed our judges. Rich and weighty and beautifully balanced, it has a subtly spiky texture and a hint of pink peppercorn to finish.


8.Bald Hills Friends & Lovers Central Otago Rosé 2022 ($30) – Gold Medal

A burst of sweetness immediately brings the grins. Followed by bright, clean aromatics, mouthwatering spiced watermelon, loads of redcurrant and soft citrus lead to a sleek, polished finish with delicious intensity.


9.Akarua Central Otago Rosé 2022 ($32) – Gold Medal

A hugely playful, energetic rosé that’s incredibly aromatic and expressive, with fresh citrus and melon notes roaring through on the palate. It’s a pure, precise expression with a tonne of personality and texture. Linear, mineral-laced, magical.


10.Hunter’s Marlborough MiruMiru Rosé NV ($36) – Gold Medal

Absolute class. You could fumble around for other words, but why would you? All you need to know is that our judges were well and truly wowed by its pillowy textures, soft red fruit spectrum, berry brioche characters and marathon length of flavour.


11.Mumm Marlborough Vintage Rosé 2017 ($45) – Gold Medal

Such a pretty morganite colour and a whomp of fresh cherry and soft biscuity characters on the nose leads to a rich, slightly creamy, nutty, deliciously generous mouthfeel and a marshmallow-like mousse. Widely available.


12.Lake Chalice Sparkling Rose Marlborough 2022 ($25) – Gold Medal

If you’re looking for a refined, stylishly-built, finely-tuned blend of delicate florals, red berries and creamy nutty notes, then look no further than right here. Dry, beautifully balanced and supremely satisfying.


13.Mora Wines Central Otago Mora Rosé Brut NV ($40) – Gold Medal

Showing rich, rising dough aromas, soft red fruits and vibrant, creamy complexity and hints of cranberry on the finish, it’s a Central Otago superstar.


14.Lake Chalice The Falcon Marlborough Rosé 2022 ($19) – Gold Medal

Words like ‘lifted’, ‘vibrant’, ‘fun’, and ‘clean’ peppered the judges notes in this juicy, highly floral, cranberry and melon-saturated Marlborough rosé. Soft herbal notes add to its complexity and a deliciously chalky texture injects more excitement into the finish.


15.Mt Difficulty Roaring Meg Central Otago Pinot Noir Rosé 2022 ($22) – Gold Medal

Crazy good candyfloss and soft pomegranate characters on the nose lead to brisk, frisky-fresh flavours of watermelon, soft herbs and pink peppercorn perkiness. Bright, generous, and dangerously drinkable.


16.Delta Estate Marlborough Rosé 2022 ($20) – Gold Medal

Fabulously floral and boasting fantastic flavour concentration of bright berries, lifted herbs and spice notes, with a soft saline ribbon running through it and a deep, chalky complexity to finish. Each sip has excellent tension and tautness.