Even though the weather in BC refuses to be consistent with the season, we have started to drink Roses anyway! They are our favourite summer wine ever since our trip to the south of France back in 2006.
Prior to that, I was — honestly — quite prejudiced against Rose. My only real experience was from my alcohol-laden youth, where Rose meant Mateus or (even worse!) Cracklin’ Rose from the Okanagan Valley in BC (this was pre-Free Trade and the planting of real grape vines). Sweet, syrupy and awful — that pretty much summed up my Rose experiences.
And then we got to France. It was July and, typical for the season, stinking hot! Especially in Provence. At one point we were driving on the A5 and kept seeing these signs in French with the number 45 after them. It was only after arriving at the walled city of Carcassone that I realized it was a warning to “keep hydrated” because it was 45 degrees Centigrade!!!
As you can imagine, that meant drinking red wine was out of the question. And whites — well, make them cold enough, and most lose any character at all. Which left us with Rose, which became particularly tempting because it often came with the prix fixe meal for free!
What a revelation! Ranging in colour from light to deep pink, it smelled of ripe strawberries and cherries, had some of the body of a red wine, but was cold and dry on the finish. Most were bone dry, although we also found some that were just a touch sweet. They were perfect with just about everything we ate, from cassoulet to duck confit, terrines and even steak tartare.
So when I got home, my mission became to find Roses here! At first I had mixed luck — some were too expensive, some too dry, and some too sweet. Some were also too old — Rose needs to be very fresh, one year old at the most (except for the great ones from Tavel in France). Eventually, I landed on a number of regular great buys and, interestingly, a number of them came from BC!
Best of the bunch, year in, year out, is from La Frenz in Naramata. The 2010 version just arrived yesterday and — WOW!!! Deep pink (almost purple), exploding with super ripe grapefruit and strawberries, it is lush, medium bodied and just a touch off dry. My wife said it was the way “adult soda pop” should taste like. This is the wine to drink on the deck in the sun. And for $18, it is tough to find a bargain as good as this.
Another good one is the 2010 Somenos Rose from Averill Creek on Vancouver Island. Andy Johnston is known best for his Pinot Noir, but this is a beautiful Rose. Lighter and drier than the La Frenz, it finishes really crisp and dry, quite like one from France. A buck less at $17, it is another great bargain.
The third Rose from BC that is consistently good is the one from Quail’s Gate. A bit darker than the Averill Creek — but still lighter than La Frenz — it is crisp, clean and, at $14.99 a good bargain. Even better, it is in the regular BC government liquor stores, so widely available.
There are lots of other Roses out there to try, so please do! Even if the weather doesn’t turn, you can chill them, sit in a lawn chair (even if you get rained on) and pretend it is summer in France. Sante!