The joys of spring

Listen to this old geezer and give your palate a treat

With the approach of summer, we old geezers are ever more conscious of Robert Herrick's exhortation: "Then, while time serves and we are but decaying/Come, my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying."

It is unclear to me exactly what was involved in maying, but I suppose "may" had a lot to do with it. And to turn "may" into "might" and "might" into "must", without turning play into fright and fright into lust, a bottle full of flowers, fruit and sun is eminently useful. That, surely, is why rosé is so popular at this time of year, as the old geezers recall those springtime emotions and remember that they are indeed decaying, with no "but" to it.

Corney & Barrow's offer pays due respect to those weaknesses. And it provides an interesting opportunity to become familiar with some of the variety of rosé wines, and to recognise that their reputation for frivolity is not uniformly deserved. The Covela from Portugal, for instance, is a tough, broad-hipped Carmen of a wine, with smoky breath and an embrace that is decidedly corsée. This is not the wine for a cheerful picnic, but an occasion for brooding, murky fantasies as you chew on a fat cigar.

Quite the opposite is the Domaine de Montaubéron from the Côtes de Thongue - a pale pink, baby-faced, easygoing wine which, served cold with a sandwich, will make lunchtime feel like a new dawn, without spoiling the afternoon that follows. This wine has the simplicity for which the rosés of the Midi are rightly esteemed, yet with enough strength and character to fight the most pungent cheese-and-pickle sandwich.

Château de Sours needs no introduction: this Bordeaux property has been turned by Esme Johnstone, founder of Majestic Wine, into a model estate, but has barely 900 entries on Google, confirming my old geezer's view that the internet is all noise and nonsense. Of the three wines produced by the estate, the rosé is by far the most interesting, being second only to the Rhône rosé of Tavel for complexity of flavour and length on the palate. It makes a perfect aperitif, as well as a robust accompaniment to supper and a pleasant armchair wine thereafter. It ages well and you could keep it a year or two without risking any of its freshness.

Pink champagne is the queen of rosés, though forbiddingly expensive for old geezers, now that their pensions have been gratuitously destroyed. A presentable substitute, however, is to be found in the popular rosés from Burgundy. The example on offer shows how charming the Pinot Noir can be, when its light-coloured skin is allowed only a day or two of contact with the alcohol, and when the lid is kept on its fizz. This is the perfect party wine, but also an inspiring start to a solitary old-geezerish evening alone.

Roger Scruton is a philosopher and countryside campaigner as well as an author and broadcaster. Widely regarded as one of Britain’s leading right wing thinkers, his publications include the Meaning of Conservatism. He has also written on fox hunting.

This article first appeared in the 14 May 2007 issue of the New Statesman, What now?