Pretty rose wines kick off the picnic season

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      Suddenly it’s May—the sun is out, and we’re flocking to patios, beaches, and parks for a taste of the good life. Pack up some soft cheese, apples, green olive tapenade, a loaf of bread, and some pink wine, aka rosé.

      Good, dry rosé is as popular as ever. Not quite a red wine and not quite a white, there are basically two ways of making a rosé. You take some good quality red grapes, press them, then let the grape skins sit on the juice for a short time (up to 24 hours or so), during which they pass on their colour to the desired shade. Or, you create a blend of red wine and white wine. Both methods are acceptable and can produce tasty wines, but today we’ll do a roundup of wines made in the leave-the-skin-on-the-juice method.

      A battle between roses, and the winner is you. We start with two pink wines I’ve covered before from Haywire and Bartier • Scholefield. Made at Okanagan Crush Pad in Summerland, both rosés are produced entirely from gamay noir grapes and are well made and affordable. However, some unique treatments in the cellar give us the ability to play along with the winery’s latest promotion.

      In a repeat performance of what they did last year, winemaker Michael Bartier and wine advisor David Scholefield are putting up their dukes and hoping to claim the title of best rosé. Bartier is defending Haywire, while Scholefield is in Bartier • Scholefield’s corner.

      To help battle this out, Okanagan Crush Pad has announced a selfie contest. They want you to take a photo of yourself with your chosen rosé and post it with the hashtag #rosesmackdown. Me, I’ll stick to drinking them. On a recent night, we gathered a few neighbours and had our own head-to-head tasting of rosés. As for the winner, you’ll need to try them all for yourself.

      Haywire Gamay Noir Rose 2011 ($19.90)
      Rosés are great all year round and go with everything. This one is “bright with lifted raspberry and rhubarb notes”. Nothing wimpy, big and bold fruit, tart. Great with oysters and Mediterranean-spiced roast meats.

      B • S Rose Table Wine 2011 ($18.90)
      Says the label: it’s “lightly tannic as all good rosés ought to be…[with] frolicsome undertones of red berries”. A great food companion, juicy and fruity, it works well with deli meats, cheeses, and sushi.

      Fort Berens Pinot Noir Rose 2013 ($18)
      This one is produced from pinot noir grapes grown in Lillooet, one of B.C.’s fringe wine regions. Says the winery: “Bright coral colour [with] aromas of fresh raspberries”. A drier rosé made for a summer barbecue or ribs with a bit of fat.

      Gray Monk Rotberger 2012 (15.99)
      Lots of crisp acidity with a ripe red-fruit finish. Rotberger might not be something you’re familiar with, but Gray Monk has been producing it for years; pronounce it “wrote-burger”. They suggest smoked Cheddar to pair, and they’re quite right.

      Stag’s Hollow Syrah Grenache Rose 2013 ($22)
      Reminiscent of a typical Provençal rosé, which we’ll move on to shortly, the bright strawberry colour in the glass matches the nose and flavours. Balanced with some spice and gentle acidity, this is a great summer wine, with food or without.

      Foncalieu Moulin De Rogne Aix En Provence Rose 2012 ($15.99)
      We leave our back yard and head to the south of France for a taste. Wine has been made in this region since 600 BC, when Greeks controlled the city of Marseille, and today more than half of the wine produced in Provence is rosé. This one is a classic Provençal rosé that can be picked up at a great price. Features mineral, citrus, dried cherry, and floral notes, a great accompaniment to tapenade.

      Caves D’Esclans Cotes de Provence Whispering Angel Rose 2012 ($33.99)
      Again in Provence, where rosés are a way of life, you’ll find this very pale, salmon-coloured wine. Faint cherry and other clean, fresh, light summer fruits mix on the palate with mineral flavours and a juicy finish. Named for the Whispering Angel chapel built in the early 19th century. A little on the pricey side compared to the rest of our picks. But for a classic rosé that can be left in the bottle, this one is a solid choice.