June is the month when the honest critic has to face up to that perpetual problem in the life of a serious wino, which is the problem of rosé. It goes without saying that, on a warm summer evening, when day lingers and the old sap rises in limbs that have seen better days, rosé is irresistible.
The fresh aroma of fruit, the colour recalling the favourite drinks of childhood, the ease with which the cool and refreshing draught runs with its light into the inner darkness: all these have a holiday quality, soothing away the stress of a working life and conjuring a world of lovers and comforters. This is the true, the blushful Hippocrene, and it bubbles in the mouth like the song of cherubs.
Still, when all is said and done, what remains of the flavour? What depth, what complexity, what velvet allure? Would not a glass of raspberry cordial laced with industrial alcohol have the same effect? These deeply disturbing, some might say heretical, thoughts come creeping in behind the shallow ecstasies.
On the other hand, there are rosés with attitude, and one of these is the Cabernet Sauvignon from Mas Oliveras - a whiff of old Catalonia that has the strength and conviction of so many Spanish rosados, which are wines to be drunk with food daily.
Corney & Barrow is rightly proud of this wine, which has just enough depth and roundness to deflect the thought of raspberry juice, and which stood up manfully to our dish of curried sausages. Buy a case of this and you will spend a pleasant summer, whatever the weather. And it is cheap.
Even stronger, and with a pale amber colour suggestive of the cask, is the Cabernet-Merlot mix from Nelson's Creek. If there is such a thing as a complex rosé, then this is it: hints of cigar box on the nose and . . . Rather than lapse into winespeak, I will say that we gave this full marks, preferring the Mas Oliveras largely because of its price.
The Bourgogne Rosé from Olivier Leflaive is really a white wine made from red grapes. There is just a hint of pink in the colour, though the aroma and acidity recall the Chardonnays of the Côte Châlonnaise, rather than the Pinot Noirs of the Côte d'Or. Yet, the great Olivier tells us, this wine is made from Pinot Noir grapes grown in and around the famous villages of Volnay and Monthélie - no doubt not grown so well that anybody could use them to claim those fearsomely expensive appellations, but grown all the same, and not found wild in the hedgerows. The result has a distinctive taste: an acquired taste, certainly, but maybe one worth acquiring.
Finally, the vin de pays from the Toulouse region: great on first opening, somehow less good when brought out the next day. Maybe the moral of the story is this - drink rosé by all means, but drink it quickly.