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All Rosés Are Not Created Equal

Our wine editor, Neal McLennan, gives us his take on the rosé trend.

I’m just old enough to remember the white zinfandel craze, so I was more skeptical than most when the second coming of pink wine started in earnest a few years back. But the first wave of local wines were charming, they were mostly dry and even if so many of them were made from leftover grapes, I became a convert despite my reservations. In the last few years, though, I’ve noticed a real move back towards a sweet style of rosé that, while not quite at white zin level, is alarmingly sweet. A local winemaker recently confided that he was being forced to up the sweetness of his rosés because the dry austere style simply isn’t selling.

The point was hammered home to me last week when I had people over and we started with a bottle of Chateau Routas and there couldn’t have been a more perfect summer evening wine—a beautifully fragile pale pink, a backbone of acidity, some subtle wild strawberries and a kiss of pepper. The bottle disappeared with alarming speed and I ducked off to grab another—only to find that there was no more Routas so I grabbed a local bottle instead. I unscrewed the cap filled new glasses only to be asked by my wife “Honey, don’t we have any more rosé left”. That’s how dark the colour was and the taste was all sweet commercial strawberries and a lot of them. Drecksville.

The crazy thing is that the Routas, grown in Provence and shipped over here, is only $22, which is about the same price as most decent local examples. Frankly, except for some outliers like the $50 Domaine Ott, French rosés are priced pretty much on par with the B.C. ones and they have waaaaay less surprises.  There’s still plenty of local examples that are worth seeking out but it’s crazy not to make the French offerings (at $30 the La Bargamone Cuvee Marina is a nice, good-looking, treat) a key part of your rotation.

 

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