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Weekend wine: I think it’s time to drink Rosé

Rosés are not just summer wines - although it's hard not to think of them as such
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Vin Greco, Wine All The Time

Rosés are among the most versatile of wines, and though they should be enjoyed year-round, it is hard not to think of them as “Summer Wines”, as it is in that season that they are probably most appreciated .

Every year, if the LCBO shelves are any indication, Rosés are becoming more and more popular.  They are so plentiful, now, that it is hard to decide which one(s) to choose, with the choice complicated by the fact that a Rosé can be almost “bone-dry” (about 2 grams of sugar per litre) to incredibly sweet with well over 100 grams of sugar per litre.

Colour alone can be confusing, in that the palest can be very flavourful, and the “pinkest” sometimes candied, and at other times laden with savoury “oomph”.

In choosing, I often rely on whatever reviews I can find, as well as on my experience with particular wines or winemakers over the years.

As a rule of thumb, you can expect the wines from the south of France, Provence and Tavel in particular, to be the driest you will encounter; the Tavel AOC actually produces Rosé wines exclusively.

One of the most iconic of Tavels is Chateau d’Acqueria, whose 2015 earned an incredible 95 from Decanter – “The bouquet is shapely with red fruits and garrigue herbs. The palate extends well with modest berry fruit, strawberry and red cherry at its heart. There is a mineral clarity and a firm acidity which ensures an intense finish. This is a well-made wine with classic terroir and style. "

It is the 2016 which is now on the shelves, and in fact almost all the Rosés on offer should be from 2016, as generally they are considered best in their youth. The new d’Acqueria, $21.95 should be on a par with its predecessor.

At $17.95, another Tavel, Domaine Des Carteresses, is a deep coral-pink and on the palate gives impressions of strawberry and grapefruit. For many, this rivals the d’Acqueria.  With all rosés, though it is a matter of personal taste.

Gérard Bertrand Gris Blanc, $16.95, bends the rules, as it is actually from the2015 vintage.  From the Midi, it is a blend of Grenache Gris and Grenache Noir, but ends up the palest orange-pink.  Sarah d’Amato of WineAlign.com remarks on its concentration and on its peach and limestone notes - 88

Many of Ontario’s Rosés are at the edge of off-dry with over 10 grams of sugar. The reliable Tawse “Sketches of Niagara”, $17.35, however has just 8 grams per litre, and certainly qualifies as dry. It is a deep orange-pink, and, typical of Ontario, shows some rhubarb and strawberry on the palate, along with a hint of watermelon.

The Peninsula Ridge Beal Vineyard Cabernet Franc Rosé, $14.95, carries 15 grams of sugar per litre, and has the herbal notes we can associate with that varietal along with ripe cherry and spice elements.

With most Rosés, anything over $25 seems to be at the top end of the price scale.Caves D’Esclans Whispering Angel, $26.95, is certainly more expensive, but it is exceptional.  In colour, it is the palest “onion-skin”, and on entry, quite “quiet”, but the most significant impact is in the finish, which lingers extensively with the impression of grapefruit and savoury herbs.  If you like your rosés more off-dry, this won’t be your best choice, but if you like them dry, there is a lot to appreciate here.  Matthew Jukes whose articles appear in Decanter gave it a heady 18 out of 20.

With many Rosés, if I haven’t had the opportunity to taste them previously, I tend to consider how the other wines from that winery have impressed me.  One of those would be Chile’s Cono Sur with its Bicicleta line.  They make one of the best inexpensive Pinot Noirs, and so I would certainly be willing to try their Pinot Noir Rosé, $1 off at just $10.10 through May 21st. Red berry fruit should show on this medium-pink example.

De Morgenzon Garden Vineyards Rosé, $11.95, comes from a reliable South African producer, and delivers a pale pink and tasty wine with very good balance, warm fruit, and lip-smacking acidity. It’s hard to beat for the price.

As I indicated, it really is a matter of taste.  If you enjoy Spanish wines, then the reliable Muga Rosé, $14.95, will satisfy. I confess that I detected some “cellar taint” on the bottle I tried, but that is a “one-off” to be returned, and not at all typical of this Tempranillo/Garnacha/Viura blend.  In fact, some claim as many as 1 in twelve bottles sealed with cork can be problematic – though that is very high in my experience.

Likewise, while the Atamisque Serbal Malbec Rosé, $16.95, was the favourite of a number of tasters recently, I found an initial candied flavour was just too much for me. Ironically the same group ranked the Whispering Angel the lowest of the three Rosés tasted, whereas I placed it first.

 The lesson: know the kind of wine you tend to enjoy most, and then be willing to experiment.  There are oodles of Rosés out there, and searching for the one that suits you best will be a very enjoyable quest, indeed.

May 27 Vintages Release

Rosés

Rustenberg Petit Verdot Rosé 2016, $13.95 from South Africa is fresh with red berry and cherry fruit notes, good acidity and significant depth.  Think Asian fare.

Gérard Bertrand Côte Des Roses Rosé 2016, $17.95 comes in an elegant bottle with a rose embossed in the base, and a lively, fresh wine within made from classic southern French varietals, and showing strawberry, citrus and garrigue.

White Wines

The feature this release is on Southern Italy.  Feudo Maccari Grillo 2015, $14.95,is Sicilian, and James Suckling acknowledges “full body, bright fruit and acidity” -92. 

Magnifcat Greco di Tufo 2016, $17.95 comes from Campania. Vintages suggests “subtle notions of lemon tart, pear, apple and white peach…in a fresh and easy-drinking frame.”

Clos de Beauregard Vieilles Vignes Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2015, $16.95, is a perfect crisp summer white. It was #75 on the Wine Enthusiast’s “Top 100 Best Buys”, with its ripe apple and lime fruits and salty mineral character.

Maycas Del Limari Reserva Especial Chardonnay 2015, $18.95 is a Chilean gem. James Suckling emphasizes its intensity, and refers to lemon and apple flavours and salty accents - 94.

Red Wines

D’Angelo Sacravite 2013, $15.95, from Basilicata carries a 91+ from robertparker.com, for its “round tones of chocolate and toasted hazelnut” and the “super bright point of wild-berry fruit” at its core.

Chateau Hauchat 2014, $16.95, from Fronsac is 100% Merlot and Vintages’ “Wine of the Month”. The Globe and Mail’s Bepi Crosariol refers to its classic smooth character, and Vintages emphasizes its ripeness and dark fruit.

Fabre Montmayou Reserva Malbec 2014, $18.95, has a 94 from Master of Wine Tim Atkin, who wrote, “Notes of pepper, spice, clove and violet are intertwined with the succulent dark berry fruit and toasty, yet refined oak.” – 94.

OZV Old Vine Zinfandel 2015, $21.95, will deliver a robust wine with jammy black cherry and bramble flavours that are just shy of “sweet”, along with milk chocolate overtones on the smooth finish.

Simi Landslide Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, $39.95 swirls with flavour that is carried deeply and smoothly from start to finish.  The entry is like a door opening to deep and luxuriant dark fruit and dark chocolate, with an almost liquor-like sensation, and the enjoyment persists long after you’ve swallowed. It has gold medals from both the San Francisco and Sonoma County competitions. A seriously good wine.