It’s a shame that some wines just can’t shake a reputation. Take rosé for example – these wines really hit mainstream when white zinfandel captured imaginations and palates in the 1980’s.
Sweet or off-dry if you are being generous, the wine was anything but serious, yet helped kickstart wine culture on these shores. The downside was that it was perhaps a little too much fun and a little too sweet, and so the consumer moved on.
More recently, rosé is enjoying a renaissance. Somehow, finally-at long last, it is hip to drink and be seen drinking rosé. Personally, I think it is due to enough sommeliers, commentators and summer wine lovers finally banging the drum loud enough and long enough to be heard.
Rosé is delicious wine, and it should be something enjoyed by any wine drinker with enthusiasm. The selection is better than ever, and the quality is seriously jaw-dropping, but prices are also creeping up. The rarest, most sought-after small quantity pinks are moving north of $35, which is a little much for a wine that just wants to be loved.
Pink wines (at least the good ones) are made with red grapes. Since the juice of most grapes is clear, the colour of wine comes from contact with the skins. Red skinned grapes can make white wines, and with just a little skin contact, a blush wine results.
Most rosé wines are fermented until almost completely dry, meaning these are wines that are rarely cloying, and have the acidity and structure to pair well with a wide variety of foods. Rosé should generally be served cool to well chilled, and is best enjoyed in tulip shaped glasses or white wine glasses. Rosé can and seems to be made virtually everywhere, but the best are those from places that double as wonderful spots to spend a summer vacation. Provence, Tuscany, Spain, the Okanagan…great examples come from virtually anywhere.
What I like about good rosé is that they can easily be enjoyed just for the sake of enjoying a glass of wine. To my tastes, the best rosés have a little pepper spiciness, soft raspberry and strawberry fruits, and just a touch of perceptible sugar.
Will these wines enjoy many years of mainstream prominence amongst the serious wine drinking set? To my thinking doubtful, but there will always be a place at my table for a good one.
Monte Creek Ranch 2016 Rosé, British Columbia
Using the uncommon marquette red grape, the nose leads with a little red apple rock candy and cranberry fruits with a touch of light handed mint leaf. Medium bodied (for a rosé) and a little sweeter than off-dry, flavours are quite lovely, though the wine will appeal to fans of sweeter rosé styles. Serve chilled. Not quite in Alberta yet $20
Hillside 2015 Rosé, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Fully transparent, but bright red in the glass (and clear bottle) I didn’t know what to expect. Bright cherry fruit aromas with cranberry and a wild flower herbaceousness dominate the nose while on the palate absolutely love the tart cherry flavour with a smidgeon of raspberry jelly. Very enjoyable. Patio not included. CSPC +756719 $19
JoieFARM 2016 Re-Think Pink Rosé, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Pinot noir and gamay come together to make a little magic in this Okanagan rosé. Almost electric pink in the glass, aromas are raspberry dominated with a few other red berry fruits with just a bare touch of wild flowers. Fairly dry, the flavours explode on the palate with a deft touch of acidity bringing it all together. Delicious. CSPC +731772 $25
Mission Hill Five Vineyards 2015 Rosé, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
I rarely think about rosé when I think about Mission Hill, and I think that might have to change. Raspberry and cranberry with white pepper spice and watermelon flavoured candy aromas followed by an off-dry palate showing all those lovely fruits. Silken textures and a sweeter finish should compliment fresh berries or lighter fare on the patio. CSPC +601161 $13
Evolve NV Pink Effervescence, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Yellow plum, Macintosh apple, and breadstick (yes, breadstick) start things off with this pink bubbly from the Okanagan. On the palate, simply lovely with good fruits, some medium sized bubbles, and a nice finish. Really making me crave some pork dishes, though it should be very versatile with food. CSPC +TBD $23
Torres 2015 Viña Esmeralda Rosé, Cataluna, Spain
If you love great value wine, you probably already know about Viña Esmeralda’s juicy and super refreshing white wine. Pale pink with strawberry ice cream aromas, with a little cherry and spice notes, lead into a palate of soft, fresh fruits, a nice zippiness of acidity, and easy going finish. Lovely. CSPC +781841 $18
Gérard Bertrand 2015 Cote des Roses Rosé, Languedoc, France
A blend of grenache, cinsault, and syrah, the nose is remarkably tight and fresh with cherry, dried herbs, raspberry and subtle floral aromas. Really intense on the palate with loads of fruit and perfumed characters. Quite dry, would stand up to plenty of grilled meats or pork dishes. CSPC +778270 $28
Tantalus 2016 Rosé, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Whenever I see a bottle of Tantalus, my heart cries out “riesling!” but please do yourself a favour and try some of their other wines. A blend of pinot noir and pinot meunier, the colour is soft pink with a slight russet tone to it. Aromas are slightly herbaceous, with wild berry fruits, while flavours are in a similar vein. A full-flavoured finish really would rock with pork tenderloin or any protein that could be complimented by a blueberry or Saskatoon berry. Delicious. About $20-24 on the shelf. CSPC +740513 $22
Domaine Houchart 2015 Côtes du Provence Rosé, Provence, France
For many rosé purists, Provence is the ONLY place for pink wines. While that might be disputed, their wines are pretty fine. Almost ethereal on the nose, aromas are very soft and understated, while on the palate it really comes alive. Apple peel, strawberry, and a hint of waxy apple its light, sleek, and demands a little attention. Tasty wine, so don’t serve it too cold. CSPC +738568 $15
Tinhorn Creek 2016 Oldfield Reserve Rosé, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Made from 100 percent cabernet franc (Hello!), coppery orange in the glass, the nose evokes dried orange peel, dried strawberries, herb leaf and maybe a little canvas. Nicely balanced with fruits and acids, there is also a nice mouthfeel which really elevates the experience. Would be great with foods such as cedar planked salmon, charcuterie, or even salty snacks. CSPC +748673 $19
Gil Estates 2015 Honoro Vera Rosé, Jumilla, Spain
Tropical and summery fruit tones ranging from pear and plum to strawberries and citrus on the nose with a lovely soft pink/copper colouring to boot. Flavours are fresh, with zippy acids, and a long, soft finish. Would really shine with a nice sunny day on ice with a little seafood. Highly recommended rosé. CSPC 780358 $16