Vinum bonum deorum donum.
(A flavourful wine is a gift from the gods)
Most wine enthusiasts dismiss rose wines with a shrug and say “they are for picnics”.
They are for sure, but they also go very well with al fresco lunches on hot days, and even with fine meals if chosen with due care.
Rose wines have been around since time immemorial; they are light red, leaning to blush (an English term to describe light pink), and refreshing, if made expertly. In southern France, Provence is famous for its rose wines, but Cotes du Rhone, Languedoc, Loire, and now, even Bordeaux produce respectable roses.
Fine rose wines are made using red grapes (grenache, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, zinfandel, syrah, pinot noir, malbec, and mourvedre aka monastrell with a short maceration period. Some wineries blend white and red wines to achieve the rose colour. In France this practice is against the law. Blended rose wines offer little enjoyment and are dull in taste.
Then there is pelure d’oignon (onion skin) wines usually made from pinot gris aka pinot grigio or grauburgunder. Pelure d’oignon roses are very light and can be appealing with appropriate foods providing they possess an adequate acidity.
Blush wines are very pale roses produced by a very short fermentation period. The first blush wine was made by the Sutter Home Winery in Napa Valley. At the time zinfandel grapes were inexpensive, abundant, and the market was more apt to prefer off dry very pale and fruity wines. Blush zinfandel aka white zinfandel was a big success and very profitable for the winery.
Then there is rose de saigne, which is extracted from a still red wine must in an attempt to concentrate the colour and taste of the red wine, and obtain a flavourful rose. Sparkling rose wines are also quite popular. There is rose champagne, which is now very popular, and made by blending white and red wines. In Champagne the law allows blending of red and white wines for rose.
Practically all countries that produce sparkling wine also produce rose sparkling wines. They go with light dishes i.e pan-fried or poached seafood, pizzas, pastas, risottos, paella, ratatouille, and medium cheeses. This year we tasted roses from france, Spain, Italy, South Africa, Ontario, California, Chile, Australia, Portugal, and new Zealand.
Once again, roses from Provence and Rhone Valley shone due to terroir.
Ontario wineries now produce good to very good roses due to terroir, and expertise.
My recommendations are
Sparkling rose wines
Prestige Rose, Taittinger, Champagne, France
Rotari Rose, Trento, Trentino-Alto-Adige, Italy
Cremant d’Alsace Rose, J. Cattin, Alsace, France
Brachetto d’Acqui 101 grams/Litre, Viticoltori Acquesi, Piedmont, Italy
$ 12.95 LCBO General list
Still rose wines
Rose, 2015, Red Stone Winery, Ontario
Thrid Generation Shiraz Rose, Nugan Estae, Baropssa valley, South Australia
Tempranillo Rose, 2015, Campo Viejo, Rioja, Spain
Rose, 2011, Calamus Winery, Ontario
Amarose, The Foreign Affair Winery, Ontraio
Terres de Saint Louis, 2015, Estandon Vignerons, Coteaux Varois en Provence, France
Sable d’Azur, 2015, Gassier, Provence, France
Available at Vintages APRIL 30
Cotes des Roses Rose, 2015, G. Bertrand, Languedoc
Gris blanc, 2015, Gerard Bertrand, pays d’Oc, France