Before we deep dive into what is Rondo, why did we end up planting the variety? 3 years on from starting our English wine journey with Madeleine Angevine and loving getting to grips with caring for them we were driven to go further. But how do you go about picking a grape variety? For us, we wanted to offer something different as well as finding a variety that would suit our site on the edge of Dartmoor. After opening a good few bottles from local vineyards and taking advice from our viticulture advisor we landed on Rondo. Did you know we originally planned to make a red? After a sun lacking first harvest we trialled a rondo rosé and it went down a bit too well! We fell in love with our rosé and never looked back but what is Rondo?
Where did it come from?
Now, Rondo has a bit of a different and less traditional past. It is actually a hybrid variety first created back in 1964 in a German grape breeding institute by crossing Zarya Severa of Russian origin and St. Laurent from Austria. Though it wasn’t until the 90’s that the grape variety was first commercially planted and given its name Rondo. Rondo was first planted in Ireland by a vine grower on a mission to find a sustainable red variety that fit the Irish climate. After testing many varieties, Rondo showed the best promise and was commercially planted across his vineyard in Ireland due to its ability to ripen in cooler climates and its high resistance to fungi meaning the vine grower could eradicate the use of fungicides.
Since then the variety has grown in numbers in England, Sweden and Germany proving itself as a hardy variety that produces a unique full-bodied ruby-red wine, that can develop complexity, with tones of dark cherries and blackberries. Or in our case, a rather interesting rosé.
What’s it like to grow?
Rondo vines are certainly a bit more rebellious than our original Madeleine. They have a tendency to grow more horizontal so we have to be really on top of training them upwards in the spring (They have been caught spreading along through 3 or 4 other vines before!). Though thankfully rondo seems to be more resistant to wasp attacks making them a bit easier to protect through the season. As with our Madeleine, they love soaking up the Devon rays but are also really tolerable of a good soaking, making them a perfect match for our patch of Devon. Post harvest they also turn to dramatic autumnal shades, a beautiful sight once the grapes are all tucked up in the winery.
How does it taste?
Rondo is quite the contrast to the delicate tones of Madeleine Angevine with its vivid red colour, much deeper than your usual rosé. It’s not just the colour that packs a punch, our rondo grapes make a bold rosé bursting with summer fruits, serving up delicious hints of strawberry, raspberry and a zingy cranberry finish. It pairs perfectly with rich charcuterie meats, duck and most of all, a BBQ in the summer sun.
Why do we love it?
To us our Rondo rosé really is summer in a bottle. It brings a refreshing delight to the end of a hot day in the vines and also helps us to escape in the cooler months as we dream of the summer to come. Not only that, Rondo captures the difference in summers more strongly with each year bringing its own shade, from deeper tones to vibrant reds in the extra sunny years. We love how this celebrates each year in its own light.