Maybe more than any other wine style, the variety of rosés is endless. For every variety or style of red wine, some winemaker, somewhere, is making a rosé from the same grapes.
Charles Bieler, Joel Gott and Roger Scommegna put their winemaking skills and marketing savvy together for the first time in 2001, and bought and refinished excess wines in bulk from premium California wineries. In the process, they got a reputation for ‘robbing’ vineyards blind of high-end varietal wines, at prices described as a ‘steal,’ and the name “Three Thieves” stuck.
Surprisingly light on its feet for an affordable California rosé Three Thieves Syrah $13.97 is very pale 'salmon' pink with delicate aromas of peach when first poured, chilled. As this dry rosé warms in the glass, subtle aromas and flavours of lemons and apricots emerge.
Regardless of their origin, dry rosés are routinely compared to the traditional, benchmark range of pink wines from the Mediterranean coast of southeastern France, particularly Provence. Often these French rosés are made by gently pressing juice off Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre – red grapes destined for Côtes du Rhône blends. Bleeding off some pale juice gives the red wines more weight and colour.
Of course – and especially today - not all rosés are French. Based in Mendoza's Valle de Uco, Bodegas Salentein produces premium Argentine wines. Salentein Killka wines are their second tier and Salentein Portillo are the entry level wines – gateways to the wines of the Uco Valley.
Pale rosy pink with orange overtones, Salentein Portillo Rosé of Malbec 2018 $14.99 offers aromas of ripe apple and pear with wisps of tangerine. Clean and crisp, the predominant flavours are cherry, berry, strawberry and peach in a very delicate, dry mouthful reminiscent of the dry rosés of Provence.
As Spain has modernized and reinvented its winemaking practices over the last 20 or 30 years, they have moved more deliberately away from tradition than their neighbours in France and Italy. Wines that were one traditionally dry and 'rustic' are now being made in fruit-forward styles, organically, even biodynamically.
Next to Rioja, Navarra is the best know winemaking region in northeastern Spain. With years of winemaking experience, brothers Raúl and Jorge Ripa began the Quaderna Vía organic wine project in 2003. Deep rosy pink, winner of a Gold medal at Millésime Bio 2018, world organic wine fair staged in Montpellier, France, Quaderna Vía 'Be Bike' Garnacha $16.99 oozes enticing and delicious apricot and watermelon aromas and flavours.
Owned by Argentine billionaire Alejandro Bulgheroni the 9,880-acre Bodega Garzón in Uruguay includes vineyards and olive trees as well as a multi-million-dollar 123,000 sq. ft. environmentally certified winery opened in 2015. While working with Uruguay's red specialty Tannat wine grape, Garzón also grows a wide range of international favourites.
In the delicate tradition of France's Provençal rosés, Bodega Garzón Reserve Pinot Noir Rosé $19.99 is light and elegant, leading with wispy notes of strawberry and vague hints of watermelon and lemon curd. A touch of saline minerality underlies the subtle lemon and strawberry medley of flavours.
Standouts among other rosés from the Southern Rhone Valley , the wines of Tavel - the only all-rosé appellation in the Rhone Valley – are more deeply coloured and more richly flavoured than the pink wines of the Côtes de Provence. Many winemakers, elsewhere, have tried to imitate the stylish weight of Tavel.
Here in BC, Joie Farm Pinot Noir $20.76 is a full-throttle rosé made from a blend of 58 per cent Pinot Noir, 28 per cent Gamay, 10 per cent Pinot Gris and 4 per cent Pinot Meunier. According to owner and winemaker Heidi Noble: “The Pinot
Noir gives the Rosé strawberry and Montmorency cherry flavours and a lovely fresh body. Gamay contributes black cherry and spice and adds a little more texture and weight to the mid-palate. The skin-contacted Pinot Gris lends a beautiful colour and freshness and the Pinot Meunier adds a blast of raspberry fruit.” Nothing wimpy whatsoever about this luscious pink wine...
Few traditional 'noble' red wine grapes thrive in Vancouver Island's moist, cool-climate vineyards. Getting Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to the required ripeness is impossible. However, careful site selection and canopy management can produce ripe Pinot Noir.
From the Cowichan Valley, Unsworth Pinot Noir Rosé $24.99 has that classic Provençal profile of wild strawberries, and
delicate, savoury herbs. This rosé takes an entirely different approach to blending by incorporating Pinot Noir from three distinct regions. Vancouver Island grown grapes provide 48 per cent, Fraser Valley grapes contribute 43 per cent and the Gulf Islands add 9 per cent. Definitely a dry Provençal-styled rosé, this is best appreciated - like so many rosés - only lightly chilled.
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