A few of my favourite things about the rosé category becoming so popular during the past few years are a growing realization of how dynamic the wine style can be when it comes to food-pairing, plus an increasing number of wineries are throwing their respective hats into the ring, giving us more options and opportunity to drink pink than ever.
My least favourite thing is that the rampant success of these wines also means there’s a growing number of shitty rosés out there. For too many wineries, it’s a quick and easy way of making a buck when they have leftover fruit come harvest time.
So. We must be on our game, be a little more discerning so we can ensure we’re reaching for the good ones. For me this means—just as with red and white wines—quality rosés that are well-balanced (a little sweetness is fine, as long as there’s generous acid at the other end of the scale), reflect their varietal composition, and express the terroir of the regions where they’re grown.
Here’s a quintet of British Columbian examples from those who are getting it right. Although all are available winery-direct, they can also be found in private stores here in Vancouver for just a few bucks more for making the journey.
Sperling Pinot Noir Rosé 2018
From legendary Canadian winemaker Ann Sperling comes this pretty little number made from Pinot Noir grapes grown on the property her family has been farming since 1925. Swirl your glass, step into that summery strawberry patch, then sip generously while noting fresh-squeezed blood orange, that dollop of marmalade, and that drop or two of honey on the finish, making it a wine suitable for Buffalo chicken wings, Thai curries, or sticky and spicy barbecued back ribs.
Mission Hill Family Estate “Brigadier’s Bluff Rosé” 2018
There are a couple other rosés in Mission Hill’s stable, but this Terroir Collection bottling is their top-tier take on the style. Grown in the sandy soils of Osoyoos, the Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah that compose the blend come together for a generous snapshot of the area’s semi-arid growing conditions. Wild sage and stewed Rainier cherries fill the aromatics, while the palate carries tart rhubarb character, fresh strawberries, and very ripe raspberries. The acid makes things nice and juicy, with a good bite of Pink Lady apple on the finish.
LaStella “LaStellina” Rosato 2018
One could say winemaker Severine Pinte’s rosy blend of 66 percent Cabernet Franc, 30 percent Merlot, and four percent Sangiovese is a southern Okanagan pink version of an Italian Super Tuscan wine, but it’s so damn delicious and crushable that I don’t want to get too thinky about it. Potpourri and cinnamon sticks make for intriguing aromas, setting us up for a deep dive into strawberry jam, candy apples, fresh ginger, red wine gums, and a splash of cranberry cocktail. There’s welcome viscosity and weight here, perfect for those who find lighter, Provençal-style rosés a little too simple or precious. Pour a good glug and drink with abandon.
Kitsch Pinot Noir Rosé 2018
Winemaker Grant Biggs seemingly handles his East Kelowna–grown Pinot Noir fruit with kid gloves here; this is an elegant charmer of a wine that has many nuances yet enough concentration to go the distance with whatever’s on your table. Carnival candy floss and pink grapefruit blossom aromatics are grin-inducing, and I absolutely adore the light salinity on the palate, riding a wave through fresh rhubarb, pink lemonade, and mandarin orange, finishing off just a wee bit briny. Oysters, ceviche, fish tacos—oh, my!
Le Vieux Pin Vaïla Rosé 2018
Back to the commendable work by LaStella’s winemaker, Severine Pinte, who is also at the helm of sister winery Le Vieux Pin. This one is 100 percent Pinot Noir, buoyant with citrusy peaches, red and yellow plums, golden raspberries, and a fun pinch of fresh tarragon on the finish. Whether out of cups on the beach or your fancy Riedel glasses at the dinner table, this is a summer-worthy gem.