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On your mark, get set, rosé

May 9, 2018

BOOZE ESSENTIALS_what to drink and why

Rosé season kicks off May 12 as 15 blushing wines hit LCBO shelves in what looks to be the start of the summer pink parade.

By Erin

I’m a huge fan of rosé. And I feel fairly secure in speaking for the entire DTO team that all of us here are big time blush fans. Which means I am a tad conflicted writing this “rosé recommendations for spring” blog.

On one hand, I’m always elated to see LCBO shelves lined with row upon row of glittering bottles in various shades of pink, salmon and coral hues. It’s a harbinger of spring that is very, very, very welcome. On the other, I drink pink year round, and firmly believe that its food flexibility, refreshing crispness, and utter deliciousness is perfect for afternoon sipping with cheese plates, as an aperitif served with small bites before dinner, or neatly camouflaged in your water bottle when going to the movies (lawyer’s note: we don’t do that, pinky swear) and rosé has its place equally in January as it does in July.

Regardless of my personal feelings that warm weather does not have the exclusive on rosé, I am a professional (drinker and writer) so I will forge on. And I love a good party as much — if not more — than the next wino, so it is appropriate to jump on the blush bandwagon to sing the praises of all that’s good and fresh in the LCBO right now. And these new gems fit that bill perfectly.

Well, to be clear, not all of these 15 wines being released this weekend are technically new, some are re-releases or updated vintages, but let’s not bore each other with semantics. Below I’ve listed six tasty examples to get your rosé season started right.


Marquis d’Aqueria Rosé 2017
Tavel, Rhône, France
$19.95 Vintages 556274
Tavel is the only appellation in the Rhône to produce exclusively rosé wines — no whites or reds are made. Grenache is the base of every Tavel wine, though a number of varieties are grown and used to make Tavel’s customary weighty, dark pink wines. Indeed, the Marquis is almost a baby red, as opposed to a pink, with flavours of sweet raspberry, red cherry and poached rhubarb with a bitter cranberry finish. Pair with heartier paella, ratatouille, or country-style pâtés and terrines. 88 points

Gérard Bertrand “Côtes des Roses” Rosé 2016
Languedoc, France
$18.95 Vintages 373985
As a Vintages Essential, this pretty pink is mercifully always available, but this is the updated vintage. Known for its stunning clear glass bottle with the rose etched into the bottom and the glass stopper, the Mediterranean terroir comes through is gossamer-light pink with notes of earthy, wild herb and slate-mineral mixing with nectarine and mandarine orange flavours. 89 points

Three of Hearts Rosé 2017
VQa Niagara Peninsula
$19.95 Vintages 552562
This is the newest offering from the three bros at Henry of Pelham. A beautifully crafted dry and delicate rosé that’s so pale orangey-pink it’s nearly white. A blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, look for yellow fruit, sweet orange citrus and touch of floral and wet rock-mineral notes. A streak of lively acidity gives punch to this gauzy wine that would be beautiful paired with Niçoise salad, poached salmon or simple roast chicken. 89 points

Malivoire “Vivant” Rosé 2017
Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment
$19.95 Vintages 498535
One of our go-to’s for rosé sipping, the Vivant is 100% Pinot Noir, sourced from a few vineyards on the Malivore estate. Barely there baby pink in colour, there’s a beautiful steely-flint note winding through the soft flavours of red berries and mixed citrus. Very Provençal in style, this is refined, delicate and delicious. 90 points

Rivarose Brut Sparkling Rosé NV
Provence, France
$18.95 Vintages 515288
Lightly effervescent with flavours and aromas of delicate red berries with a flinty, mineral streak, this mid-weight blend of Syrah and Grenache, is quite fun and easy drinking. Perfect for summer time garden parties — and the pretty packaging makes this sparkler a charming edition to bridal shower and Mother’s Day celebrations. 89 points

Ontañón Clarete Rosé 2017
Rioja, Spain
$16.95 Vintages 556282
A bit of trivia to the term Clarete: by definition, Spanish Claretes are vinified like reds — fermented with their skins — where as rosé only has enough skin contact pre-fermentation to lightly colour the clear juice pink. Additionally, Claretes are always made by blending red and white grapes together and in this example from Ontañón, the blend is Rioja’s most widely planted red and white grapes, Tempranillo and Viura (aka Macabeo). It’s a fairly simple and straight-forward pink with pleasing aromas and flavours of red berry, orange fruit and citrus notes. For a little armchair traveling, drink it like the Spanish, and pair with spicy chorizo, meaty green olives, salted almonds and ham croquettes. 87 points