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Toronto sommeliers pick their favourite rosés

April 27, 2019

It’s always struck us odd that rosé is relegated to the warm months: indeed as you will read in the sommelier comments below, from barely-there pinks to blushing crimsons, these vibrant wines offer an infinite amount of food pairing options, all year round.

In fact, travelling to France you will see a democratic even split between whites, reds and rosés. Here’s a bit of trivia to win friends and influence people at your next cocktail party:

Rosé at Ufficio.
Rosé at Ufficio.

History tells us rosé was the first wine made, when the Phoenicians landed in Massalia (Marseille) in southern France around 600 BC. By the time the Romans got there a few hundred years later, rosés were already the well established drink of choice, and the Romans helped spread its fame throughout the Mediterranean, which is why rosé and southern France are inextricably linked to this day.

A few other notable rosé facts:

  • There are 4 ways to make rosé; the most common is to directly press the red grapes, allowing  minimal skin contact.
  • The least prestigious method is to blend finished red and white wines together to make a pink drink (unless you’re in Champagne; but that’s a story for another day).
  • In the Rhône region of Tavel, rosé is the only wine allowed to be made — red and white are strictly forbidden.
  • Rosé can age! Not forever, mind you, but a weightier pink, like those of Tavel, can be cellared for 3 to 5 years, and develop the same nutty, leathery, tertiary goodness red wines would. How do we know? Our good friend and leading Toronto sommelier and wine writer Sara D’Amato told us, and she’s really smart.

To put you in a rosé state of mind, we asked Toronto sommeliers for their rosé tips, starting with what rosés and dishes they have on their spring menus.

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Café Boulud

Julie Garton: "We have a new rosé coming on the list next week which is delicious. It's Chateau Leoube 'Love' Rosé from Provence. It's a little rounder on the palate with some nice fruit concentrations but is still very dry and crisp in style. I will definitely be pairing this wine with our house made charcuterie or even steak tartare."
Note: Our friend and expert somm Sarah d'Amato also recommends the Chateau Leoube 'Love' Rosé, which will be at the LCBO for $23.95. No one's sure when, though.
kojin

Momofuku Kōjin

Steven Sousa: "I really love the 'Rosabella' from Vajra in Piedmont. It is made with
Nedibiolo, Barbera and Dolecetto. It's perfect for sipping, but this wine can definitely handle some food. It goes great with our Niagara ham and copa flatbread or our 'lacquered' pock chop."

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Ufficio

Stacey Patterson: "The Chiaretto Rosé by Tenute Del Garda in Lake Garda is made in small batches with the Gropello grape. It's bright, with medium acidity and a lovely round texture. It pairs well with our Ontario Burrata with strawberry mostarda and watercress."

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The Shore Club

Allison Vidug: "Starting next week we will be pouring 2018 13th St. Winery Gamay Noir Vin Gris by the glass. It's from Creek Shores, Ontario. I'm excited for this wine because it is dry, crisp and full of pretty notes such as wild strawberries and watermelon rind. It is well suited to chilled seafood and salads because of the bright acidity. I'm proud to be pouring delicious Ontario rosé for the season!"

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Cru

Jonathan Gansenhauser: "The 2017 Wittmann Pinot Noir Rosé from Rheinhessen, Germany, is a light and dry style of rosé, super vibrant with lots of fresh strawberries and floral compositions to it. It's a great wine to highlight Germany as not just a sweet wine-producing country. This is super compatible with a lot of dishes, notably our smoked salmon with sunchokes, horseradish and pearl onions. We sell it for $60 a bottle."
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"Also, we import the 2017 Tormaresca Calafuria Negroamaro from Salento, Puglia, directly from Marchesi Antinori. I believe we are the only ones to carry it. I love the packaging — some say it looks like me (lol). I found this wine while I was in Italy and knew we had to bring it back. Medium-bodied with ripe mixed berry fruit and a great backbone of acidity to keep it refreshing. All around, for me, a great bottle of rosé."

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Archive Wine Bar

Joshua Corea: "The 2017 Castilla “Lobetia” from Dominio de Punctum is a fruity medium-dark Spanish rosé made from Garnacha. We have it on now as a promo to raise money for our team entrance fees in the Ride to Conquer Cancer... it's our 'Rosé to Conquer Cancer.' It, like most rosé, pairs perfectly with 'Life,' but it will be good with pretty much our whole menu, especially the house-cured trout.
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The 2017 Terre Siciliane Frappato “Inmezzo” from Terre di Bruca is a dark rosé; it's almost a light red wine. The fruit is of a deeper red with great savoury elements and a salty finish. It would go great with the buljol (salt cod ceviche).

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And the 2017 Côtes du Provence “Rosé de Leoube” from Chateau Leoube is a very pale, light rosé; very delicate and soft, all velvet with no hard edges to catch as it slides effortlessly down your throat. The kind of rosé you pop a cork on and then all of a sudden before you notice, it’s gone. Again this one pairs best with 'Life,' sunny afternoons with no work and or good conversation but you could also drink it while eating a shaved vegetable salad."