by MICHAEL PINKUS
IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN. The weather is starting to get warmer, and we’re taking our favourite outdoor furniture outside, plunking it down where it’ll get the most sun exposure and readying ourselves for limited time outdoors. As Ontarians, we know July and August are our main outdoor months and they need to be savoured.
That all said, every year I write in glowing terms about dry rosé, a real up-and-comer in the wine world. After years of living in a sad kind of limbo and obscurity rosé has found a new lease on life as the summer beverage of choice for many, and not just the female and trendy set, as has been depicted in popular culture. It has become a real summertime, sit on the patio of your choice sipper without having to deal with the derisive gaze of onlookers thinking you’ve gone over to the sweet side (those looks are reserved for the uneducated who have no idea how far rosé has come).
Look, rosé has found a slogan – Rosé All Day – and has fans near and far. If you follow social media, it’s hash-tagged everywhere from Provence to Providence as everyone raises a glass of the personification of summer. I would even go so far as to say most wineries now make at least one rosé; and that is because so many of us have been turned onto the pink stuff and are fiercely proud of it. People have rosé parties throughout the summer, where every wine poured is of the blushing variety, and no one complains because they don’t see a pure red or pure white wine on the table. At our liquor board they see a sizeable shift in buying habits over the summer months. Rosé sales spike as Ontarians follow the rest of the world’s trend in the drinking of pink wine over the hot months. The pride in drinking rosé is no longer shunned or looked down upon, in fact if you are still embarrassed pouring or ordering one, you need to own it, jump on the bandwagon or start your own wagon. I even know of one writer who has a “Men Who Aren’t Afraid of Rosé” party, where everyone dons a pink shirt and sips Rosé All Day (#RoséAllDay). This is no longer a trend, when summer comes along the love shown for rosé becomes a movement.
The reason rosé has such a bad reputation, or did, was because of a fluke in winemaking called white zinfandel. I don’t want to go too far down the rabbit hole here, but white zinfandel was not planned; it was a mistake of winemaking that turned into a bonafide trend and damaged the profile of rosé. While still available, the good news is the heyday of white zin has come and gone, and dry rosé (aka: serious rosé) once again rules the pop charts. Don’t get me wrong, the days of sweet rosé aren’t completely gone, they live on, but those wines are fewer and further between than they used to be.
Every year I subject my palate to countless bottles of rosé – I even attend a 60-plus rosé tasting with my colleague of the Wine Writers Circle of Canada – and over the past six years I have noticed the dry rosé trend is really hitting its stride and a majority of pink wines fall into the dry and refreshing category, rather than the sweet and syrupy camp. And trust me when I say, that’s a good thing.
The advent of summer and rosé season has become such a momentous occasion around my house that every year for the past three, my wife and I have taken a day off during the week in late April or early May to stock up on our favourites in preparation for patio season. Nothing beats a hot day with a glass of rosé. By the time you read this our boxes in the basement will be full and we’ll be sitting outside sipping (#RoséAllDay).
I also write at least one rosé article every year telling people about the best I have tried, up to that point. Throughout the summer more hit the market and if you follow me on social media or my website you’ll discover more rosé to choose from; but I have to cut it off somewhere so that you can go out and start your own collection of pink wines for you and your guests. Inevitably I get emails and social media responses that ask if I have tried X or Y rosé – and without fail nine out of 10 of those requests are about sweet rosés. I always find it amazing that the people that say they drink dry, are really suckers for sweet. To those people I say this: serious rosé is dry, it’s refreshing and something you should be able to drink all day. The sweet stuff is no better than a cooler and should be treated as such; with the sugar induced headache the next day that goes right along with it.
So, hold your head up high dry-rosé drinkers and get ready for summer, below is my exhaustive, but sadly, never complete list of rosés for the summer of 2019.
ROSÉS TO GET, SEARCH OR ORDER TO MAKE YOUR SUMMER BETTER…
CHATEAU DE BERNE 2018 ROMANCE
France; $19.99, consignment
The name seems to be one of those hokey things you want to avoid, but actually this one really is a delicious little lime-raspberry number with a hint of orange blossom on the finish.
✰✰✰ ½ +
BODEGAS IZADI 2018 LARROSA ROSÉ
Spain; $16.95, #490961
This was a real winner for me last year and it’s come around again this year: nice dry palate with orange, lemon-lime, raspberry and cranberry. Pick this one up by the six pack because it’ll go fast.
✰✰✰ ½ +
MALIVOIRE 2018 LADYBUG ROSÉ
Ontario; $16.95, #559088
What started out as a sweet rosé has been getting drier with each passing year, and that’s a great thing. Cherry, raspberry, lime with a bitter melon finish; cheerful and so easy to drink.
✰✰✰ ½ +
WAYNE GRETZKY 2018 ROSÉ
Ontario; $16.95, winery only
A first from Gretzky and something you should really make a trip to the winery for: lime, lemon, raspberry, strawberry, melon rind and even some herbal notes.
✰✰✰ ½ +
MAS DES BRESSADES 2018 CUVEE TRADITION ROSÉ
France; $16.95, #950576
A little deeper in colour than the trending rosés on the shelves, but that might explain the mainly strawberry and lime notes, and while it has a short finish, it is very tasty.
REDSTONE WINERY 2018 ROSÉ
Ontario; $17.95, winery and available June 2019 at LCBO
Two years ago, Redstone made my top rosé list and they’re back again. This fruity version ends dry, but has a mid-palate loaded with raspberry, strawberry and melon – great balancing act here.
✰✰✰ ½ +
HENRY OF PELHAM 2018 ROSÉ
Ontario; $14.95, #613471
This great value rosé from Ontario should be picked up by the case. Pretty and floral from the get go, then it adds in melon, raspberry and cherry – sweet fruit but there’s a lovely long finish hit with acidity that takes it to the dry side.
MELDVILLE 2018 CABERNET FRANC ROSÉ
Ontario; $20, Legends Winery
Huge strawberry with a subtle bitter-ish herbal note; good hint of lime on the finish… very summer. First rosé I tried this year and still memorable.
✰✰✰ ½ +
CREEKSIDE 2018 ROSÉ
Ontario; $15.95, #48819
A real blast of refreshment with a hit of wild cherry, along with the balance of beets, cranberry and citrus. The beet may be jarring, but it fits right in, trust me.
LEANING POST 2018 ROSÉ
Ontario, $20, winery only
Not often do you get this kind of complex rosé, but this Leaning Post delivers on so many levels: herbal, melon, cherry and more. Very drinkable and refreshing. This is a ‘just can’t get enough’ rosé.
WESTCOTT VINEYARDS 2018 PINOT NOIR ROSÉ
Ontario; $22.95, winery only
A 100 per cent lightly-coloured pinot noir that’s dry with floral, cherry-raspberry and lime – even shows some stone fruit and grapefruit on the finish. Westcott’s new winemaker nails this one.
SEVEN HILLS 2018 ROSÉ
Washington, order from winery
Tried this while in Washington State and was blown away, considering the rest of the rosés during the trip were quite lackluster. Cherry-raspberry with intense lime and a bolt of acidity that jars the palate awake – this is serious west coast rosé.
✰✰✰ ½ +
CULMINA 2018 R&D ROSÉ
British Columbia, $19, order from winery
Worth reaching out to the winery for delivery to your door. Floral, citrus, raspberry with a hint of grapefruit on the finish, and lime zest for freshness; don’t let this one pass you by.
✰✰✰ ½ +
ORGANIZED CRIME 2018 ROSÉ
Made using three different red grape varietals, but mostly pinot noir, the others just add some much-needed depth. Strawberry, lime kick things off, adding in peach and some grapefruit pith on the finish plus a bitter note that helps dry out that fresh fruit.
✰✰✰ ½ +
BANROCK STATION 2018 PINK MOSCATO
Australia, $11.95, #170134
For those who want to stray to the sweet side… in the past this has been a sweet mess, but this year they seem to have nailed that moscato d’asti vibe with ginger ale, sweet pear and pineapple notes that good moscato should have and because it’s rosé there’s a dash of raspberry too.
✰✰✰✰✰ = Outstanding
✰✰✰✰ ½ = Excellent
✰✰✰✰ = Very Good
✰✰✰ ½ = Good
+ The wine offers a bonus but not enough to go to the next level.