Our story so far:
(with apologies to Luther Vandross)
He works hard to give her all he thinks she wants
But it tears her apart ’cause nothing’s for her heart
He pulls in late to wake her up with a kiss goodnight
If he could only read her mind, she’d say
Buy me a Rosé
Call me from work
Open a door for me what would it hurt?
Show me you love me by the look in your eyes
These are the little things
I need the most in my life
You may not know that Luther liked wine and he loved Rosé so much that he referenced this wonderful pink drink in the first take of the recording of this song. Unfortunately, in 2004, Rosé was associated with White Zinfandel. People thought Rosé was cheap and sweet and passed it by when making their wine choice.
J Records expressed the view that the listening public would respond better if Luther changed “Rosé” to “rose”. Luther reluctantly agreed. Upon release, the song was a hit. Sales of roses soared, men started opening doors for women, people in love stared longingly into their mate’s eyes, and everyone openly shared their feelings with each other. Things did not work out so rosy for Rosé. More than a decade would pass before Rosé wines garnered respect.
The story above is, as far as I know, complete bull shit that I just made up. Drafting it provided me with great amusement and I am quite proud that I managed to slip in a bad pun. I took it too far with the bit where Rosé gained respect but at least I waited until the end to give away that the content is fictional.
For reasons unknown to me, Rosé is linked to summer as strongly as champagne is associated with a celebration. Searching the KGBO’s (a.k.a., the LCBO) website for “Rosé” yielded 277 hits. There is a lot of Rosé in the system and, in case you have not noticed, it is summer. The thought occurred to me that a tasting focusing on Rosé would be both fun and fulfill a useful public service. Therefore, the first part of this post focuses on Rosé. The second part of the post provides comments on two sparkling wines, one white wine, and three red wines that are part of the 21 July 2018 Vintages release.
We identified seven Rosés to taste. and selected five wines from a Vintages release and two wines from the KGBO’s general list to taste. Two wines came from France and one wine each from Canada, Greece, Italy, South Africa, and the USA. The price of the wines ranged from $12 to $28. The desired focus of the tasting was dry Rosé, so wines with residual sugar that exceeded 5 grams per liter were excluded from the selection process. Wines were tasted blind and in a random order. Three Rosés were clear winners.
Factoring in price into the evaluation, the $13 Ken Forrester Petit Rosé 2017 Grenache—VINTAGES#: 553040 finished in first place. Light in color, bone dry, nice acidity, red fruit flavors, and tannins on the finish. This wine is a case buy for your deck, your docked boat, your lunch table or whatever. South Africans are lucky as they can buy this wine for about the equivalent of $5CAD. Our friends in the Excited States of America pay a little bit more than the citizens of the People’s Republic of Ontario.
In second-place, again once factoring in price, is the $12 Marius Rose Pays D’Oc
—LCBO#: 540989. The red fruit is brighter than Ken Forrester and (perhaps) the wine is a little less acidic. The wine has good length and is very pleasant to drink. The Marius is a general list wine. To locate it in your KGBO store, avoid the Vintages section and look in the France section of the rows located in the main part of your store. Your store may also have a section devoted to Rosé and this wine may be stored there. Remember that you can also order wine online and have it delivered to your store for free. In France, this wine retails for about the same amount of money as here in the Republic.
My plan for cheap Rosé for the summer is to load up on the Ken Forrester and, if that runs out, supplement supply with the Marius. The Forrester may disappear quickly and the supply of wines on the general list typically is strong.
If you are looking for a Rosé with additional complexity then seek out the $25 Alìe Ammiraglia Rosé 2017 Syrah Blend—VINTAGES#: 527788. The Italians know how to make a Rosé with character. The red fruit, acid, and tannins are nicely balanced and there is a pleasant bitterness on the finish. It’s worth the money and you can proudly show up to a dinner party with this wine. This wine was even better the second day, an outcome that suggests that decanting before serving would be beneficial. The $15CAD price tag in some stores in Italy makes me want to board a plane and fly there. Like here, this wine is premium priced in both Quebec and the USA as our friends there pay about the same as people in Ontario.
The other four Rosés?
The $13 Kir-Yianni Akakies Xinomavro Rosé 2017—VINTAGES#: 71050 is serviceable. It’s a bit fruity, tangy and dry and works well for the money (note that our KGBO raised the price this year by 15% making this wine a great example of how the government uses their monopoly on wine retail to grab and hide tax. I’m sure that you would love a 15% raise in pay. Ask your boss for one tomorrow and let me know how that works out for you).
The $25 Angels & Cowboys Rosé 2017 Grenache Blend—VINTAGES#: 493155 is okay but, in contrast to your other choices, there is no reason to spend the extra money on this wine.
Tasted blind, the $28 Hecht & Bannier Bandol Rosé 2017—VINTAGES#: 450767 did not live up to the top three and does not live up to the quality of the Rosé that comes from Bandol. If you want good Bandol Rosé then try the $28 Château Salettes Bandol Rosé 2017—VINTAGES#: 557892 that was reviewed in a previous post. It is worth the money. The Hecht & Bannier is not and, if the percent increase in price for the Kir-Yianni Akakies didn’t get your blood to boil, consider that the LCBO sold the 2015 vintage of the Hecht & Bannier for $20. That’s a 40% increase in price in two years.
Sadly, the Canadian wine placed a clear last in our blind taste comparison. The tasting group rejected the $16 Cave Spring Dry Rosé VQA—LCBO#: 295006 on multiple accounts. It’s a wine that I will avoid. In the dry Rosé category, Canadian producers need to up their game. Maybe because of acidity levels, our producers tend to make Rosé with elevated levels of residual sugar. For me, that makes them a hard thing to buy, especially when there are good dry Rosés from other countries that are much easier on my bank account.
With our focus on Rosé wine, I do not have a value-priced red wine recommendation from this release. You’ll just have to treat yourself to the $34 M. Chapoutier Deschants Saint-Joseph 2015 Syrah Blend—VINTAGES#: 728501. Complex, balanced, age-worthy and enjoyable now with a good decant. It’s a great example of red wine from Saint Joesph, including having the attributes of animal blood that many wine-geeks value in a wine. Someday try explaining to someone that does not drink wine that you prize the smell of a wet barnyard and dried animal blood in your red wine. In France, this wine retails at around the equivalent of $25CAD. Vive la France! You lucky bastards.
Wines to consider
This release contains two serviceable sparkling wines. The $20 Bailly Lapierre Réserve Brut Crémant de Bourgogne Sparkling—VINTAGES#: 991562 has a bit more complexity than the $20 Château Moncontour Cuvée Prédilection Brut Vouvray 2015
Sparkling—VINTAGES#: 168963. The Lapierre’s bubbles are less aggressive than the Moncontour and the Lapierre’s residual sugar comes in at 10 grams versus the Moncontour’s 12 grams. So my nod goes to the Lapierre for a basic aperitif. The Moncontour would be great in a mimosa. Both are decent choices from a price to quality perspective but neither will set your world on fire.
We didn’t taste the $20 Redstone Limestone Vineyard South Riesling 2016
Riesling—VINTAGES#: 381251 but, thanks to Doctor C, we did taste the 2013 vintage of this wine. I have low expectations of Niagara riesling as I find the flavor of these wines tend towards a canned apple juice profile and I don’t find the drinking experience to be enjoyable. The apple on this wine is fresh, not canned, and there are other orchard fruits present in the taste profile. Tasted blind, our group was convinced that the wine in the glass was a German Riesling. My prejudice was challenged appropriately. My guess is that the whopping 31 grams of residual sugar (and the LCBO’s medium-sweet classification) of this wine makes it a hard sell to the consumer. But, the acidity level of this wine balances the sugar. The wine would be a great match for spicy food.
The $30 Emiliana Coyam 2014 Syrah Blend—VINTAGES#: 63891 is a rich and full-bodied red wine. The nose is intriguing, and the wine has good fruit and chocolate notes. I would love to taste this wine 5 to 10 years from now. If you buy this wine for present consumption decant it and serve it with rich dishes like charred proteins. Good value.
Wines to avoid
Tasted blind, we thought the $33 Urbina Selección Crianza 1999 Tempranillo—VINTAGES#: 482158 was a cheap New World fruit bomb. The flavor profile primarily is cooked red fruit (strawberries). The posted tasted notes are misleading. It is hard to enjoy this wine and certainly not typical of an aged wine from this region. I have experienced mixed results with wines from Urbina. Some have been outstanding and others, like this one, hugely disappointing.