Pink’s in forecast for spring
I say it’s spring, and I say the hell with it: chill the rosé. We could sit around here shivering for weeks longer if we look outside our windows. So this is—I’m assuming authority here—finally, officially (my office may be small, but it’s determined!) spring. We’re going to start acting like it by popping the corks on a few newly received bottles of the spring wine—the pink wine.
Vina Chocalan Rose 2011 ($12.99)
Rule #1 for rosé: it should be cheap. That’s where we’re starting; couldn’t be a better buy. This is made from Syrah and Petit Verdot, and it’s a great lunch wine. It’s neon pink, the colour of Freshie. (Anybody remember Freshie? Do they even still make it?) Very fresh, very fruity, agreeably tart, perfect for spaghetti with mushrooms and carrots or The Silver Palate Cookbook’s “Great American Picnic Potato Salad”. A lovely food wine every which way, and sporting a very good price. It’s one of the best new South American rosés in our market: very hearty and refreshing. If you think of pink as wimpy, sugary wine, this will set you straight—and start a pink dinner club or event.
Marques de Caceres Rosado Rioja 2010 ($16.99)
Spanish cooks have taken to pink wines for lunch and dinner forever. This is another neon-pink-tending-to-orange wine—a decidedly paint-sample colour, derived from Tempranillo and Garnacha grapes. A little herby and grassy, somewhat skinny in the finish, but with a good enough bite to offset one of those Spanish garlic soups, or some paella.
All the rest are domestic. We’ve taken to making rosés with considerable alacrity here of late, meaning two things: we know how to do it well, and people are obviously enjoying drinking it.
8th Generation Confidence Frizzante Rose 2011 ($22.50, winery only; 628 cases made)
If there’s anything better than straight rosé, it’s gotta be bubbly rosé. This one, from the Summerland winery, throws out big, bold, sweetish bubbles. It’s fresh and delicious, with food or without, and looks as pretty in the glass as it tastes in the mouth. Definitely a party about to happen, soon as you pop the crown cap.
8th Generation Pinot Meunier Rose 2011 ($19.99, 72 cases)
Also from the winery only, or by direct delivery—by the boxful—from the Vancouver-based agent, Quaff Wines. My most trusted in-house taster found this a little too sweet to go with many dishes but loved it as a pre-dinner drink, or for après with some ripe, red summer fruit. It not being summer yet, I’m going to wait a bit and finish my supply of the Confidence first. Quite dark and deep and very full. Chewy, even.
JoieFarm Rose 2011 ($20.90 at select VQA stores and the winery in Naramata; lots to be had, with 2,026 cases and 340 magnums. A magnum of rosé! Think of the nearly endless delights…)
Here’s the mix: 41 percent Gamay from St. Hubertus, 38 percent Pinot Noir, 11 percent Pinot Meunier, 10 percent Pinot Gris. Follow the formula and you might be able to make your own. What a great pink wine—fresh, vibrant, rich and fruity, abundant weight, and endless charm. This, from the winemakers who say “rethink pink” right on the label, and add: “We make rosé because we love drinking it and we believe it to be the most versatile wine to pair with food.” They’ll get no arguments from me. This is very much in the French style: for food, for fun, for lunch, for dinner, for sunset sipping, for anyone and everyone.
Quails’ Gate Rose 2011 ($14.99)
Pale almond colour, herby-dry; good, non-sweet fruit makes it a favourite food wine around my house. Suits most meals—meat, fish, fowl, veggies, pasta (it’s surprisingly lively with rare-cooked liver if you can get some restaurant chef to do it that way for you; there aren’t many who can—or will). Not so much for dessert as for the main course.
Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series 2Bench Rose 2011 ($22.99)
Sliding up there price-wise, but what a treat this is: 100 percent Cabernet Franc, nearly 13 percent alcohol makes it big enough to cut through spicy, grill-dark meat and fish, while still being gentle enough to accompany cream-based fruit desserts and soft cheeses. Specifically: rosemary-studded Havarti with pickled onion and barbecue kettle chips, rhubarb crisp, or strawberry shortcake with Chambord liqueur. Long one of my big B.C. pink faves, this is the one that used to only be available to Tinhorn’s Crush Club members. I think they finally made a big enough vatful to let it loose on the rest of the public. Treat yourself.
Clos du Soleil Rose 2011 ($17.90, 390 cases; the winery in Keremeos is the best bet)
This heady pink (at nearly 14 percent alcohol) is produced from 15-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon vines. It has bright fruit jam in the initial aroma, a little something slightly medicinal in the aftertaste, and a bit of a candy-stripe finish. As all those disparate elements coalesce on the palate, it makes for a very satisfying, complex whole. More for sipping than food-accompanying. Thoroughly satisfying.
River Stone Malbec Rose 2011 ($19.90, 138 cases; try the winery in Oliver)
From one of the newer South Okanagan wineries—and one that has quickly distinguished itself with its high-quality, moderate-price varietals—comes this hearty, bright pink wine: beautiful to look at and delicious to taste. If you’re growing good Malbec (and you have enough around!), it does make a luscious, full-fruited summertime wine. Chances are you won’t see this much beyond the winery—perhaps at the occasional restaurant up that way—but whatever effort it takes, it’s worth the quest. Chill it well, plop in a wild strawberry or a red raspberry, and enjoy as an apéritif especially. Intense, bright colour, it may be the quintessential summer wine. So get it while it’s gettable; those 138 cases won’t last long.
There are more pinks on the horizon—quite a few more—and we’ll sample some of them soon. Maybe when the weather actually does get warm.