Summer Rosés Part 1

Header-image-StephenBy Robert K Stephen (CSW)

(TORONTO, ON) – So, I have been accused of Niagara bashing on Facebook because I criticized Niagara Rieslings. I can take the heat because it’s steadfast belief on my part that Niagara Rieslings resemble grapefruit juice more than wine. Now, if I praise Niagara Rosés, will I be considered a Niagara bootlicker?

Niagara Rosé can take the world on and beat it without a wink. Generally speaking they are not thin and watery like the majority of Tavel Rosés seen as some great divine French blessing.

Now I have 13th Street Pink Palette 2014 to try and it better be good lest I be bashed further for anti Niagara sentiment. The label and name cause me some concern. However the proof is in the pudding.

It’s on the darker side, not psychologically, of Rosé which heats me up because I like the fruit potential in my Rosés. Well integrated notes on the nose of watermelon, strawberry, mocha and sweet red Niagara cherries.

On the palate a big brat with a full and complete palate. Well rounded in terms of fruit and acidity. It has a raspy raspberry flavour . Subsequent sips reveal more acidity than its darker pink colour might suggest. Short finish. I think this is more of a foodie wine than a casual sipper and salmon, trout or char come to mind cooked gently on the broil with dill and chives basted with Greek extra virgin olive oil.

Ontario Rosé can compete internationally on the Rosé battlefield. Impeccable quality so it comes down to taste and what you prefer in your Rosés. (Thirteenth Street Wine Corp, Pink Palette 2014, VQA Niagara Peninsula, 750 mL, 12%, $15.95, LCBO #275834, Square Media Group Rating 91/100)

Spanish Rosés are usually darker that their French cousins and more fruit forward. This 2014 Real Agrado is medium pink in colour. Lots of cherry Jell-O, strawberries, cranberry and milk chocolate.

On the palate less acidic that the Niagara Rosé described above. The acid is well hidden so the wine still has a backbone. Somewhat austere and lacking much of a panoply on the taste buds some cranberry and weak strawberry notes.

Not much on this Grenache. (Real Agrado 2014 Garnacha, DOC Rioja, 750 mL, 13.5%, LCBO #410142, $12.95, Square Media Group Rating 85/100). Spain can do much more than this with its Rosés.

Let’s go to France for some Côtes du Rhone Rosé. It has a frail weak pink colour. On the nose coffee and strawberry. About the same on the palate with moderate acidity. Short finish. Bland.

One expects more forcefulness from a Côtes du Rhone. (Côtes du Rhone 2014, Appellation Côtes du Rhone Contrôlée, E. Guigal, Ampuis, France, LCBO #225003, 13.5%, $17.95, 750 mL, Square Media Group Rating 82/100)

South Africa has been making wines for hundreds of years. Mulderbosch is a big winery and this Rosé has a middle to dark pink colour. It promises a generous dollop of fruit. On the nose some rich black cherry, watermelon, milk chocolate and a nice little streak of raspberry.

Full bodied on the palate with some stiffness of raspberry, watermelon and pomegranate. Just the right amount of acidity. Seems built more for food than casual sipping. It’s a “trooper” being full, noticeable and making a statement to be taken seriously.

For anyone trying to slide into Rosé from red wine put some training wheels on this bottle and peddle away. (Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Rosé, Wine of Origin of Coastal Region, Mulderbosch Vineyards, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 750 mL, 12.5%, $12.95 LCBO #999821, Square Media Group Rating 91/100)

Vintages differences?

Once upon a time I thought that Pondview Estate Winery made a globally supreme Rosé but every year is a new game. The Pondview Estate Winery will no doubt be never seen as one of the world’s best Rosés but it once had that moniker in my wine world.

However, 2014 wasn’t exactly a great year in Niagara. This Rosé is pale pink and shows a bit more power and depth than its colour suggest. A nose of cherry. strawberry and lavender and it’s a no nonsense nose. Thick and serious.

On the palate some very serious disciplined fruit with loads of strawberry, bark, and cherry always tight and guarded with no flash and flab. I get the sense of a brilliant Rosé held back by less than a brilliant year. 2014 will not be the year that Pondview blows you away with its Rosé, but just wait until the right vintage and there is no better in the world.

A very serious sipper and a food worthy wine with enough power to arm wrestle with a flank steak in chimmicurri sauce. A dominant world producer of Rosé stuck in less than a stellar vintage. Lesson learnt; Niagara can produce Rosés than can kick butt internationally. The problem is that only we Ontario residents can make that determination of Niagara Rosés as international superstars. (Pondview Estate Winery 2014 Cabernet Franc Rosé, VQA Niagara Peninsula, 750 ml, 12.8%, $14.95, LCBO #241802, Square Media Group Rating 89/100)

cremant_roseYes, my dear, Rosé does come in sparkling format. Assume you have a beer drinker that shies away from wine. It might be a good idea to introduce wine in a carbonated fashion.

Crémants are made in the same way Champagnes are but are a fraction of their price. This Pierre Sparr Rosé has the fine Champagne bubbles. With a light pink colour. A rich nose of strawberries, pomegranate, red cherries, and raspberry Jell-O. This is very pleasing.

The taste is somewhat less frivolous with a serious acidic bite with minerality and discrete strawberry and cranberry. Very reminiscent of Champagne but it lacks Champagne’s complexity on the palate. In the summer sun as a pre barbeque wine or a late afternoon post gardening wine it really will do the trick. Thirst quenching and sharp and dry. Its dryness and acidity make this a palate cleansing pre dinner wine more than a foodie wine.

(Pierre Sparr Brut Rosé Crémant D’Alsace, Maison Pierre Sparr, France, 750 mL, LCBO # 039016, 12.5%, $18.95, Square Media Group Rating 88/100)

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."Email Robert Stephen