If you think you’ve been seeing more Rosé on the shelves in recent years, it’s not your imagination. Once dismissed as nothing more than a simple summer sipper, Rosé has seen a noticeable rise in demand thanks to an equally notable rise in quality and production. Rosé has consistently been one of the fastest growing retail wine categories in the world over the past few years. British Columbia is definitely not immune to this trend. Not only is consumer demand continuing to rise in our Province, local wineries are responding with more than half of those in BC now producing this popular pink elixir.
But Rosé’s rise in popularity shouldn’t deter non-believers into thinking that the trend is fashionable over substantive. Rosé is not an overly complex wine, nor is it meant to be. It is a wine that is both enjoyable and approachable regardless of one’s level of wine appreciation, which has translated into a massive spike in popularity in recent years. While many have passed off its current popularity as the latest trend, demand continues to grow as people discover its versatility and it sheds its reputation for being merely a sweet and pretty pink wine. Like all wine, there are different levels in quality and there is a spectrum of types and flavours.
We admit to being relatively late to the Rosé ‘Revolution’ ourselves, as our early exposure to it were largely ones that were mass produced and made by mixing a little bit of red wine with a little bit of white, along with the noticeable addition of sugar to make it acceptable to the Western palate. It’s a particularly sweet style that was abundantly available given its low price point and we quickly dismissed Rosé without properly trying the other end of the spectrum.
Thankfully some years later we were exposed to Provence style Rosés which are dry and refreshing and now dominate our deck on a warm summer’s day. As we happily explored these wines from Southern France we recognized that we preferred them because they used grapes that imparted a spicy character to the wine including Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Zinfandel.
What we’ve discovered even more recently is that New World regions are more than capable of also making great Rosé including Washington and California. BC’s cool climate combined with the fact it grows some of the most favoured grape varieties used for this type of wine, make this region’s terroir ideal. With COVID-19 restricting us from international travel over the past year, we’ve been exploring our local offering more than usual and had the opportunity to sample several of BC’s Rosé offerings both in the Okanagan and Cowichan Valleys.
As you’ll see from our tasting notes below, we found quite a range of grape varieties being used in BC including Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir, Syrah, and Merlot. We’ll undoubtedly be exploring more BC Rosé over the summer to see what other wineries are experimenting with.
As wine drinkers become more open-minded to trying different varieties and styles of Rosé, we expect this so-called ‘trend’ to not only continue, but to last a very long time. The Rosé ‘revolution’ is real, and we definitely recommend joining up.
2019 Blue Grouse Quill Rosé
Made from a blend of Gamay Noir and Pinot Noir grapes, Winemaker Bailey Williamson told us the Gamay is the “work horse” for his Rosé. Dark pink in colour, it’s a fuller bodied Rosé but there’s a lovely amount of acidity to keep it balanced. Notes of strawberry, raspberry and watermelon backed by citrus and savoury notes make this a delightful, refreshing wine that will be sure to please this summer.
2019 Joie Farm Rosé
Light salmon/pink in colour. Quite fruity showing jolly rancher candy, watermelon and hints of cherry. Medium to light body, this is a summer quaffer, light and refreshing, best on its own or with an appetizer. Fun and refreshing for a hot summer day.
2019 Church & State Rosé
Made from 80% Pinot Gris and 20% Syrah grapes, this wine is made in a fresher more minerally style than the Joie but with a bit more body than you’d expect from a rosé. Notes of strawberry and cherry backed with peach and floral notes give this a nice combination of fruit without being overly sweet. A medium bodied wine that further improved after being paired with seafood.
2018 Mayhem Rosé
According to the winery, the merlot grapes used for this wine were foot stomped followed by a 24 hour maceration, pressed off, then followed by a long and slow cool ferment. The formula definitely seems to work as the result is a bright, fresh and fruit-forward Rosé. Lots of berry, particularly strawberry on the nose with secondary notes of orange, raspberry and a hint of spice.
2018 Haywire Gamay Rosé
Notes of red apple and hints of rhubarb framed by juicy acidity is the hallmark of this wine. Whole clusters of Gamay are macerated for a few hours and gently pressed. A bright and refreshing wine that is just right for a hot summer day!
2018 Meyer Family Vineyards Rosé
Meyer Family Vineyards has built their reputation on Chardonnay & Pinot Noir, and they do a terrific Rosé of Pinot Noir that is dry and peppery just as you’d expect. Lovely on its own but can equally stand up well to salmon or white meat.
2019 Kismet Lotus Rosé
This is what we describe as the fruitier of Kismet’s two Rosés. It starts with the same base blend of grapes plus a bit of Orange Muscat. Here the colour is much darker, a vibrant burnt orange/ruby, indicating longer skin contact. They have not fermented it fully dry and that bit of residual sugar really makes the fruit flavours pop. Cherry, red apple skins, orange peel and raspberry form a part of the myriad of flavours. The wine is textured, medium+ in body, bigger and fuller than many Rosés. The back-end acidity acts as a greater counter to the fruit and gives the wine great balance.
2019 Kismet Infinity Rosé
We describe this one as the drier of their two Rosé wines. Both their Rosés are made from a base blend that includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Mourvèdre and Grenache. Both are made using the saignée method where the bottom of the tank is “bled” off after a few hours skin contact. The Infinity is a beautiful salmon colour of orange/pink. Intense flavours of mineral, strawberry and cranberry come through with a crisp, dry finish. Very savoury and quite complex as notes of wet stones and dried flowers join the primary fruit flavours. At just $18 at the winery, it’s particularly good value for this quality level.
2019 Unsworth Vineyards Rosé
Made from 100% Pinot Noir in BC’s Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, this is another fruit-forward style Rosé that hits you first with strawberry and cranberry on the nose. Secondary notes of raspberry and rhubarb and enough pepper to provide a bit of a kick to balance the fruit.
2019 50th Parallel Estate Rosé
Another BC Rosé made from 100% Pinot Noir, this time from Vernon in the northern Okanagan Valley. These grapes are hand harvested, destemmed and crushed into a closed fermenter. The winery then chills the wine for 36-48 hours before draining the juice and pressing the skins separately before ultimately combining them. The result is a Rosé that is fruit forward but dry and is more copper in colour due to a little longer skin contact.