Rosé on the Rise

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Born in sun-soaked Provence, rosés were probably the first wines ever made many centuries ago when the Greeks founded a colony in Marseille and introduced viticulture to the region. Without knowing to keep the berries in contact with the skins to impart colour and flavour, the finished wines were only faint pinkish in colour.

Modern day rosés are vinified with the grape juice and skins left in contact to macerate for a short period, which allows for colour and flavour transfer. Their colour, com-plexity, flavour profile and elegance completely depends on that macera-tion time, which makes rosés the most delicate and difficult wines to produce.

Crafted with a variety of grapes, (predominantly red) rosés are made in almost every wine producing region of the world. In addition to using traditional French varietals —Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah — rosés around the world are also vinified with Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, and even Sangiovese, Carménère and Malbec.

In Ontario, the LCBO is offering more rosés than ever, even in off-season winter months. With a new trend indicating that customers are willing to trade up in this category, the LCBO will be releasing a lot more premium rosés this summer.

European rosés dominate the category by far and rosé wines in the Vintages category continue to grow exponentially. According to Keeley Rogers, senior Communications consultant, Corporate Communications, LCBO, sales have been fantastic and, year-to-date, Vintages rosé sales are up 44 per cent (to $1.8M) over last year. The standouts are Girls Night Out Rose VQA ($13.10), Malivoire Rose Ladybug ($16.95) and Pelee Island Lola Blush Sparkling VQA ($14.10).

BC Liquor Stores have also expe-rienced increased rosé sales, up approximately eight per cent from the previous year, with local labels Quail’s Gate Rosé 2016 ($19.95), Joie Rosé 2016 ($19.99) and Road 13 Honest John’s Rosé ($16.49) topping the list. Some new ones to watch for spring/summer 2017 include Monster Rosé 2016 ($15.90), Mission Hill Five Vineyards Rosé 2016 ($15.99) and Dirty Laundry Hush Rosé 2016 ($16.99). In the

European category, rosé has shown excellent growth for the past six years, creating a buzz during the release of Provencal rosés every June, says Dixon Tam, spokesperson for the Liquor Distribution Branch. He says France is the biggest sub catego-ry, boasting three of the top-10 sell-ers; La Vieille Ferme Ventoux Rosé, L’Ostal Cazes Rosé Pays d’Oc Rosé and Les Fleurs du Mal Cevennes Rosé.

Rosés are fun and easy to match, and as Martin Malivoire, proprietor of Niagara’s Malivoire Winery puts it: “It’s meant to be quaffed, so don’t get too precious about the paring.” When matching their Rosé Moira, his first choice is Provençal fish soup, closely followed by crispy fried smelts with aioli, fried calamari and grilled salmon.

After decades of “pink wines” being considered cheap, sweet and unsophisticated, times have changed. Today’s rosés are making a comeback as top quality, dry, complex and ele-gant wines with a modern twist. No longer considered a passing trend, they are here to stay.

Volume 50, Number 3 
Written by Tania Thomas