One of the biggest signs that Canadian wine culture has evolved is our reaction to pink wine. Once viewed with the same sneering contempt reserved for Twinkies or aerosol cheese, rosé wines are enjoying a spike in popularity now that people no longer paint them with the same syrupy sweet brush.
Earlier this year, news that superstars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had entered into the wine world made waves. The fact that the beautiful people were launching a rosé proved to be the latest boost for a style of wine that has slowly been gaining respectability in North America.
The Hollywood stars teamed up with the Perrin family, which operates Château Beaucastel and produces an exceptional range of wines throughout the Rhône Valley. The Brangelina estate, properly known as Château Miravel, is located nearby in the south of France, where its previous owner produced a wine called Pink Floyd.
The first six thousand bottles of the debut 2011 vintage of Miravel sold out in mere hours. Some 15,000 cases were earmarked for North America with an expected retail cost of $30 per bottle. Whatever bottles trickle into Canada are sure to be scored by high profile restaurants and collectors long before they reach store shelves.
Such star power will hopefully underscore what Francophiles have long known to be gospel truth. The style of crisp, refreshing rosés quaffed by locals in France is a summer essential. Pink wines like these are as much in fashion as straw hats, striped shirts or sunscreen.
But you don’t have to pay such premium prices. The beauty of most rosés is that they retail for under $20. Good examples are to be had for less than $15.
Canadian winemakers have taken note of the crisp, clean style of their French counterparts. Top British Columbia producers like CedarCreek Estate Winery, Quails’ Gate Winery and Joie Farm and Ontario vintners Cave Spring Cellars, Henry of Pelham Family Estate and Inniskillin Wines have worked to rewire people’s taste buds.
Starting small, they looked to claw back pink wine’s reputation from the sugary, confected styles of White Zinfandel or so-called blush wines that turned off wine lovers in the 1990s. Many other domestic wineries have followed in their wake.
A random sampling of the 2012 rosés coming out of the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia and the Niagara region of Ontario reveal a bounty of terrific bottles that will soon be appearing on liquor store shelves. Exciting international selections are filing in, too.
We are sure to be spoiled for choice, which is a good thing. Because the more taste grows for well-made, food-friendly rosé, the better selection we’ll all enjoy whether or not your goal this summer is to sip like a Hollywood star.
Wines of the Week:
*** Famille Perrin 2011 La Vieille Ferme Rosé, Côtes du Ventoux, Rhône Valley, France, BC $12.99 (559393) | AB $13 | MB $13.50 (check) | ON $10.95 (622134)
The Perrin family made the news when they partnered with Hollywood stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to produce a rosé called Miravel. Thankfully, there’s much more of the family’s own La Vieille Ferme rosé to be had, which is pleasingly fruity (think strawberry or cherry jam), refreshing and affordable.
***1/2 Villa Maria Estate 2012 Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand, BC $18.99 (342360) | $16.45 (426601)
If pink wine truly isn’t your thing, or to put the refreshing citrusy style of dry rosé in context, try this refreshing white that offers the same bracing sweet/sour jolt as lemonade. The latest version of Villa Maria’s popular Sauvignon Blanc offers bright grapefruit and lemon flavours to whet your whistle.