I’ve spent a lot of time looking at Lillet (as well as other aperitif wines and vermouth), although my primary focus has always been Lillet Blanc and recreating Kina Lillet. As such, it makes a change to look at a new product, Lillet Rosé, this is a blend of the red and white Grand Cru Bordeaux wines used to produce Lillet Blanc and Lillet Rouge and follows in the footsteps of Martini Rosato and Cinzano Rosé.
Lillet Rosé is bottled at 17% ABV.
1) On its own
Nose: The initial nose was of dry rosé wine, but, on a second sniff, it opened up and hints of sweet orange, almond and summery berry notes appeared.
Taste: Very smooth, with the honey-like, silky, sweet start that is synonymous with Lillet. This then leads on to a touch of tart, fruity berries, apricot flesh and stones, and – finally – a dry, floral finish, including a touch of rose. Well-chilled, it has a lot of flavour, but is nonetheless clean and rather refreshing.
This was interesting, being halfway between a dry and sweet Martini; the sweet elements were upfront, followed by a dryness on the finish. This is quite a clean drink. I used a very classic-style gin, but think that it would, perhaps, work better with a more contemporary, floral gin.
Dry rosé on the nose, with light hints of sweet honey and a fragrant, floral edge to it. The taste was exceptionally fragrant, being somewhat reminiscent of perfume. The wine-like notes faded into a dry woodiness, which then turned into a finish of dry, white grapes and floral notes.
This was very jammy and fruity. Although the usual bitter-sweet balance was present, it was still quite different to what you would expect from a Negroni. There were hints of dark chocolate and some fruity floral notes, and it was lighter and drier than a typical Negroni. I think this would work particularly well as a pre-dinner drink.
5) Fruit Cup
Some people don’t like Fruit Cups as they find them a bit heavy (often this is in reference to the gin base more than anything), but using Rose Lillet rather than Red Vermouth does create a lighter drink that is far more sippable and easy to drink. Despite this lightness and its sweet fruitiness, the drink maintains a fresh dryness at the end, which is an essential part of a Fruit Cup’s thirst-quenching appeal.
6) with Soda
A clean crisp & dry drink. Very light and refreshing, it also works well with a thin slice of citrus. The flavours of the wine come through well, making this a good way to enjoy the Lillet in a long drink. Simple, yet satisfying.
7) with Lemonade
Quite a sweet drink, with some freshness; this was very reminiscent of Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade, with a notable hint of Turkish Delight. Although this drink was very tasty, it wasn’t that easy to appreciate the finer points of the wine.
8) with Tonic
Another rather tasty long drink. The drier, fruity elements of the Lillet came through a lot more, making this refreshing in a similar way to Lillet and soda, only a little more intense and flavourful. This would probably work quite nicely with an additional splash of gin, too.