Okay, I can’t wait any longer…the sun may not have arrived yet on the West Coast, but my favourite Rose was just released, so time for my annual Rose blog!
First, a quick primer. For those who care, Rose is actually made from red wine; the winemakers simply leave the skins in the crushed juice for a while to get the pink colour. How pink depends on the kind of grape that is used and how long the skins are left in the juice before the juice is siphoned off.
And it can be made from just about any kind of red grape. I have tried them from Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Syrah and even Malbec. All can work.
Third is when to drink them. And the answer is as young and fresh as possible! Right now, 2011 should be on the shelf, and stay away from anything older than 2010. They are not made for aging.
Fourth is price. In my view, Rose should not be expensive – certainly never over $20 a bottle. It is not supposed to be a serious, complicated wine – just fun! Even some of the famous Rose’s from the south of France (Tavel, for example) in my mind don’t justify the high price tags. Anyone who has drunk Rose in France knows it is perfect chilled on a hot day, the colder the better. In fact, many “house Roses” are great (and are sometimes included in the price of a meal there!).
Finally, before we get to the wines, there is the matter of style. There are three kinds of Rose – two which are worth checking out, and one I think should be avoided:
• Very sweet – this is the cheap “White Zinfandel” you see from bargain California producers. It is sickly sweet and not very refreshing at all. My advice – avoid it!
• Bone dry – these are the wines from France and Spain. They can be fabulous, with aromas of fresh cherries and strawberries and crisp acidity. Perfect on that previously mentioned hot day, served very cold, with just about any kind of food.
• Slightly off-dry – this is a newer style, particularly in B.C. and, I have to admit, one of my guilty pleasures. The best ones are incredibly fruity and ripe, with just a touch of sweetness on the finish. In my view, the very definition of summer!
And those are the ones I am going to recommend today from BC. Below are my top wines:
1. La Frenz – this has become our favourite Rose in BC (and, frankly, from anywhere). It embodies everything that a Rose should be – beautiful pink colour, super-ripe fruit and just a touch of sweetness. “Adult soda pop”, at the risk of being simplistic. I could drink this all summer (and usually do – we go through a case during July and August!). $18.99 at the winery.
2. Quail’s Gate – year in year out, this is a very nice wine – and its only $14.99! Medium pink, not quite as ripe and fruity as the La Frenz, it is still a joy to drink chilled on the deck.
3. Soaring Eagle – I had this wine in a restaurant and was impressed, then bought a bottle to confirm it – a beauty. Made from Merlot, it is deep pink, super ripe, and really nice. From a winery in Naramata for $14.99.
4. Gray Monk Latitude 50 – this wine is usually in the government liquor stores, but has disappeared for the moment. A great bargain at $13.99 – not as complex as some of the ones above, but then Rose isn’t supposed to be! If you find it, try it!
5. Joie – finally, I will include the most trendy BC Rose, but with a caveat. There is no doubt it is good and made in the style I like. But as good as everyone says it is? And at $21? Hmm…good enough to try, for sure, but not as good as the La Frenz. And I’m not sure it is worth the extra bucks compared to the wines above.
So there you go; Rose! You have the wine…now if the sun would just shine so we can drink them!