There is nothing like the first blush of spring to really bring pink wine to the table.
Rosés are liquid sunshine with fetching shades ranging from the palest cherry blossom to orangey copper, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, full-blown ruby red. They can be made in an assortment of ways, and from an endless array of varieties, but a rosé’s dryness comes down to vintner’s choice. Here are three of the best coming out of British Columbia.
One of Canada’s most respected winemakers, Michael Bartier of Bartier Bros. (his older brother Don is his business partner) is known for making honest wines. His 2017 Bartier Bros. Rosé is a unique blend of two white varieties, chardonnay and gewürztraminer, which are deftly melded with the Okanagan Valley’s red darling, cabernet franc. Talking rosé, Bartier shares via phone that “there is a bit of a balancing act—rosé is not just about the colour. Tannins are also very important, but they cannot be overbearing; you need to have something delicious, crisp, and refreshing when cold.”
Appearing in the palest of shades, akin to the papery skin of an onion, this outstanding version will delight those who gravitate toward pinks from the South of France. It’s perfumed with dried rose petals, orange blossoms, and red plums; the palate is seamless and racy. In a word, it conveys vitality.
Naramata Bench’s JoieFarm Winery was one of British Columbia’s rosé renaissance pioneers some 15 years ago. Proprietor Heidi Noble is known for her ruby-hued Re-Think-Pink! Rosé; fans would riot if she tried to alter this vibrant icon. Noble’s rosé has always been inspired by French versions made from gamay and pinot noir, and she’s stayed true to that formulation. Nonetheless, the percentages of each variety do change year to year depending on the climate and how the grapes perform. Consistency is equally important to her, so she spends time in the vineyard making sure the grapes are well tended.
“I want my rosés to be fruit-driven with a core of juicy acidity; a bit of fine tannin and savouriness makes for good food pairing,” she notes over the phone. JoieFarm’s 2017 release is just that. Strawberry coulis, cedar, and tangerine aromas jump out of the glass; the palate is boldly tangy and slightly textural, and has a succulent finish.
Then there is Quails’ Gate Estate Winery in West Kelowna, which has been making one of the Okanagan’s most affordable and charming pinks for many years. However, the new Lucy’s Block Rosé is a notably refined and grown-up version. The wine features grapes—pinot meunier with a good splash of pinot noir—harvested from a single high-elevation vineyard that was originally designated for sparkling varieties.
Winemaker Nikki Callaway explains via phone that she likes her roses “simple yet structured. It’s a wine you want to drink because it’s playful, has a nice hue, and is refreshing—something relaxed but with a little sophistication. It should appeal to the environment around you.” The 2017 vintage marks the second time Lucy’s Block has been made. Its pale rose-gold shade is breathtaking. Delicate notes of kumquats and fine spice lead to a bouncy palate harnessed by a bracing seam of minerality; it is harmonious, the finish savoury.
The pink possibilities are endless, so find the right shade and chill it. Then fill glasses up and celebrate this wine at its best time: now.
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