Does it get much better than a cheery glass of pink paired with sunshine? Let’s enjoy the plethora of new local releases and raise our glasses to the season. All wines are available winery-direct or locally at private liquor stores for a couple bucks more.
Bench 1775 2014 Glow ($23, website)
Primarily Malbec and rounded out by Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc, I strongly believe this is the best bottle from Bench 1775’s entire lineup. Don’t get me wrong, I like some of their other labels—it’s just that the 2014 Glow is that damn good. With a light, peachy hue, the peach theme continues into the aromatics, which also have hints of pound cake, fresh out of the oven. On the palate, even more peaches with yellow plum, gooseberry, and huckleberries for days. A bottle of pure joy.
Monster Vineyards 2014 Rosé ($15.90, website)
So, we have a majority of Malbec here as well, but then there’s a good dose of Viognier before Merlot and Syrah carry out the balance. Yup, a white grape right in the middle of it all, which brings apricots and white flowers to the general theme of cherries and wild strawberries. There’s a pinch of oregano too, so it should be fairly pasta-friendly. If you go that route, feel free to spice it up a bit; a smidge of residual sugar on the finish will handle it well.
Fort Berens 2014 Pinot Noir Rosé ($15.99, website)
If you want a wine from Lillooet, Fort Berens is the place. It’s not as crazy as you might think: the area enjoys a climate similar to that of Oliver, and its mountain breezes and cool nights allow for natural acidity to be maintained in the grapes. Red currants, truffle, and forest-floor notes are abundant on the nose, then Italian plum, dried cherry, and a bite of crab apple fill the palate. A perplexing wine; there’s a lot going on and it seems to be going in many different directions at once, yet I kinda like that it marches to the beat of its own drum.
Le Vieux Pin 2014 Vaïla Rosé ($24.90, website)
I defy anyone who thinks pink wines can’t be serious or complex to drink this and stick to their story. Don’t even think of this killer bottle as a rosé; approach it as a very, very light Pinot Noir instead. In fact, it was crafted more like a Pinot anyway: a little skin contact and then pressing off the juice of the whole batch, rather than the more common saignée method. So what do you love about Pinot Noir? Elegance? Soft berry fruit? A few dashes of nutmeg? It’s all here. The only thing extra lifting it to telltale rosé brightness is a flash of rhubarb mid-palate. Yum.
Tinhorn Creek 2013 Oldfield Series 2Bench Rosé ($19.99, website)
This 100 percent Cabernet Franc is as sturdy and crunchy as you’d hope a pink version would be, with elements of red bell pepper, eucalyptus, and cranberry. I love it when rosés express the varietal traits of the grapes they’re composed of. One thing about this bottle: do serve it ultra-chilled. It may be a Cabernet Franc thing, but I don’t feel it shows nearly as well when it starts rising in temperature.
Poplar Grove 2014 Blanc de Noirs ($24.90, website)
A mix of Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, and Viognier results in a sum that’s way more than its parts. Strawberry shortcake is quite apparent on the nose, and then all the berries you can imagine, along with nutmeg and cardamom, are woven into a fine tapestry of deliciousness on the palate.
Howling Bluff 2014 Summa Quies Rosé ($25, website)
This is Howling Bluff’s first-ever rosé, and here’s hoping it’s not their last. Big concentration and intensity of cherries and raspberries is bolstered by a good crack of clove and allspice. Ripe, juicy, and a little bit spicy—think braised meats or ribs on the barbecue to complement its bold character.
Township 7 2014 Rosé ($17.38, website)
Ontario expat winemaker Mary McDermott (Trius Winery at Hillebrand and Thirty Bench Winery) has just released her first vintage at Township 7, and so far I’m pickin’ up what she’s layin’ down. Naramata-sourced Merlot is crafted into an amiable ode to cream soda and Turkish delight, yet a cautious walk of the tightrope keeps things from being too sweet or cloying. At once exotic and familiar, this is a cool wine to ponder, sip after pleasant sip.