Wine, Wine Reviews

Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada Rose Tasting 2016


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
$ 73.45

Rotari Rose, Trento, Trentino-Alto-Adige, Italy
$ 17.95

Cremant d’Alsace Rose, J. Cattin, Alsace, France
$ 18.95

Brachetto d’Acqui 101 grams/Litre, Viticoltori Acquesi, Piedmont, Italy
$ 12.95 LCBO General list

Still rose wines

Rose, 2015, Red Stone Winery, Ontario
$ 15.95

Thrid Generation Shiraz Rose, Nugan Estae, Baropssa valley, South Australia
$ 10.95

Tempranillo Rose, 2015, Campo Viejo, Rioja, Spain
$ 11.95

Rose, 2011, Calamus Winery, Ontario
$ 10.75

Amarose, The Foreign Affair Winery, Ontraio
$ 18.95

Terres de Saint Louis,  2015, Estandon Vignerons, Coteaux Varois en Provence, France
$ 11.95

Sable d’Azur, 2015, Gassier, Provence, France
$ 15.95
Available at Vintages APRIL 30

Cotes des Roses Rose, 2015, G. Bertrand, Languedoc
$ 18.95

Gris blanc, 2015, Gerard Bertrand, pays d’Oc, France
$ 16.95

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