The wines of Summer - Rosés
Back in the 1960s, more than 50 years ago – when wine appreciation was in its infancy and everyone was ‘discovering’ wine – the wines of choice were Yago from Spain, Black Tower from Germany or Mateus Rosé from Portugal.
Created in 1942 to satisfy the growing sophistication of emerging consumers in the UK and US who had been exposed to wine in Europe, Mateus Rosé was originally sweeter
than today’s ‘leaner’ version. In the iconic pear-shaped green bottle that so often became a candle-holder when it was empty, by the ‘60s and ‘70s - Mateus Rosé (166) $8.69 was legendary…. Pale salmon colour; fragrant strawberry and raspberry fruit aromas; off-dry, cherry fruit flavours, with a soft finish.
In the last 50 years the production and consumption of wine has changed dramatically. The most popular Rosés got a snotty response from winegeeks because they were on the sweeter side. If that’s the case, just pour them over ice…
From Chile Cono Sur ‘Bicicleta’ Pinot Noir Rosé (760116) $9.59 is extraordinary. This ‘dry’ South American pink is an explosion of strawberry and raspberry fruit flavours when it hits the tongue . Somewhere mid-sip, this 100% Pinot Noir Rosé develops meringue and whipped cream kind of flavours. Buy by the case while its still available at this price!
The folks who actually tend the treasures at Cono Sur depend upon bicycles for transportation in the vineyards. For Cono Sur, the bicycle has become a symbol that honours their employees and represents their commitment to developing viticulture with respect for the environment.
A movable feast or medley - according to ripeness and the eventual ‘vintage’ - Road 13’s Honest John Rosé (3573427) $13.79 is always a pleasure. This BC Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) approved blended Rosé is 66% Gamay, 16% Merlot, 12 % Viognier with splashes of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Syrah. Remarkable for the intensity of flavours, the fruit characters race back and forth from red to black fruit.
More than most wines, Rosés tend towards being blends. Some - like Mateus! – are blends of finished white wines and red wines, ‘assembled’ after fermentation is complete. Others are made from red wine grapes pressed gently and taken off the skins to finish and ferment. Some Rosés are from red grapes and white grapes co-fermented.
Malbec and Merlot make up most of Kim Crawford Pansy Rosé (142922) $14.69 from Hawke's Bay in New Zealand. This is a ripe and fully fruited pink wine with aromas and flavours of ripe strawberries. Despite its sassy and sweet fruit forward style, this full-bodied gem finishes refreshingly ‘dry’.
Although there are Rosés being produced in every wine-growing region in the world, the spiritual home of pink wines has to be in the south of France. Half-way between the mediaeval town of Carcassonne and the old Roman port in Narbonne, the Domaine L’Ostal Cazes stretches across 150 hectares of land including 60 ha of vines and 25 ha of olive groves.
L’Ostal Cazes (71191) $14.99 is the palest of pinks – a white wine lover’s Rosé. To get that beautiful pale pink colour, the grapes are pressed immediately after picking at low temperatures to reduce the extraction of phenolic and colour compounds. Co-fermented from 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah, rain-washed roses and sun-dried pomegranate hover over a muted lemon-tinged chalky minerality.
Here in British Columbia, winemakers have no historic tradition to bind their hands of dampen their creativity. Quail’s Gate Rose (170316) $15.69 is a blend of 80% Gamay Noir, 10% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Gris. This is a red wine lover’s Rosé – all jammy strawberries and cream up front with rhubarb and just peeled pink grapefruit in the finish.
Despite our ‘local’ creativity, the classic Rosés still come from France’s Provence. Clinically winegeek and terminally French by origin, the term ‘Oeil de Perdrix’ translates as ‘Eye of the Partridge’ and reputedly refers to the colour in a dying partridge’s eye.
Chateau l'Arnaude - Cuvee Nuit Blanche (466540) $24.39 nails that rosy hue. More roundly dusty and prettily pink than pale. a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Cinsault grown on predominantly limestone soils a mere 45kms from the sea, this Rosé simmers with subtle dried strawberry aromas and flavours and finishes with a sprinkling of peppery ‘bouquet garni’ – sage, rosemary and thyme in the aftertaste.
Whatever your tastes, there’s a Rosé for you!
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