Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Still Rosés, 2008: 17 Tasted of 17

There’s nothing pleasanter than sipping a smooth rosé on a warm day drifting off with recollections of southern France or the summer cottage long past. I went back to La Gaude just north of Nice after (quite) a few years, ordered the same memorable rosé. This time I swear the bottle served had stayed in the sun too long. I’ve had a few rosés recently: Organized Crime Pinot Noir Rosé 2006 (June, 80), Montes Cherub Rosé of Syrah 2007 (May, 86) and Chateau d’Aqueria Tavel 2006 (Feb, 88) and haven’t repeated their tastings here. Rosés are special - not quite like champagne - a wine for a quieter moment. I haven’t found that one special rosé since but will keep looking.

A rosé is hard to get right. They can be highly ‘cherry bubble gum’ flavoured... or too saccharine… or texturally uninteresting. I’ll see what my taste buds think of the following selections.

Almost half are Niagara rosés with the rest European and ‘New World’ for contrast. Rod Phillips has rated the asterisked labels in his Winepointer #8. Wines when tasted appear in bold

Cheers, Ww 
  • Mountain Road Wine Company Gamay Semi-dry Rosé 2004 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 92-3 -- O, Beamsville, Canada, #Winery $11.95
  • Cave Spring Rosé 2006 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 90-2 -- G, Ontario, Canada, #295006 $13.05
  • *Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir Rosé 2007 VQA Twenty Mile Bench, RP90-93, 90-2 -- V, Ontario, Canada, #039974 $14.95
  • Zenato Bardolino Chiaretto 2007, 89-2 -- V, Veneto, Italy, #045203 $12.95
  • Sileni Cellar Selection Cabernet Franc Rosé 2007, 88-1 -- V, Hawkes Bay, NZ, #599951 $13.95
  • Domaine des Carteresses Tavel Rosé 2007, 86 -- V, Rhone, France, #739474 $14.95
  • Valdivieso Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2007, 85 – V, Central Valley, Chile, #059147 $10.95
  • St. Hallett Barossa Valley Rosé 2006, 85 -- V, Australia, #034249 $16.85
  • Muga Rosé 2007, 85 -- V, Rioja, Spain, #603795 $12.95
  • Domaine Maby La Forcadière Tavel 2007, 84 -- V, Provence, France, #701318 $17.95
  • Salena Organic GSM Rosé 2007, 83 -- V, Riverland, Australia, #068908 $18.95
  • Megalomaniac Pink Slip Pinot Noir Rosé 2006 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 80 – V, Niagara, Canada, #085126 $14.95
  • *Malivoire Ladybug Rosé 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, RP87-89, 79 -- V, Ontario, Canada, #559088 $16.00
  • Goats do Roam Rosé 2006, 78 -- V, South Africa, #655225 $13.85
  • Vineland Estates Gamay Noir Rosé 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 76 -- V, Ontario, Canada, #078394 $14.95
  • Wildass (Stratus) Rosé 2006 VQA Niagara Peninsula, RP85-86, 76 -- V, Ontario, Canada, #071712 $19.00
  • *Henry of Pelham Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, RP90-93, 74 -- V, Ontario, Canada, #685610 $14.95
(G - General Listing, V - Vintages, VC - Vintages Collection, O - Other, r-v - Rating-Value, RP - Winepointer )


AIN ROAD WINE COMPANY GAMAY SEMI-DRY ROSÉ 2004 VQA Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville, Canada, 13.3% SC4, Winery $11.95 (Retasted July 28, 2008)

My notes: This was purchased from the winery in October of 2006 on a trip to the Niagara area and was last tasted December of the same year. The colour is a vivid salmon pink and the aromas are beautifully developed as strawberry, including the mild sweat associated with this fruit, and ripe peach. Served chilled the soft and round texture is the first to be noticed along with a definite sweetness, not overpowering but well balanced with a mild tartness, followed by a medley of flavours: fresh strawberry, peach stone, red cherry. A perfect summer sipper or have with fresh fruit: cantaloupe, grapes, pineapple or a mild cheese tray or shrimp ring. Pair with chinese, thai or even spicy mussels. The time cellared has improved this rosé, more body and blending of textures with flavours. There should be no problem cellaring for another two years. A bargain for an off dry rosé. 92

Central Valley, Chile, 13.5% XD, #059147 $10.95 (Tasted July 22, 2008)

A Vintages release on July 19, 2008 described as “This robust, cherry-pink rosé is packed with ripe blackcurrant and berry aromas and flavours. Dry, medium-bodied and bursting with fruit, it's a bolder-styled rosé that's perfect for around the barbecue this summer.” My notes: A pinkish salmon in a tulip glass with a light aroma of berries, I'd guess blue-, and a bit of sweat. Serve off chill for an extra dry first sip followed by a scant flavour of berry and cranberry, just enough to taste. The palate ends up dry with slight fruit flavourings, declining quickly, refreshing and building roundness and flavour with each sip. This could be a grilled freshwater fish companion or a bbq’d chicken quaffer as well as being priced right for a dry summer ‘cooler’. It would be interesting to cellar for two years to see where it goes but likely a drink now. 85

Niagara, Canada, 10.2% D, #085126 $14.95 (Tasted July 19, 2008)

A Vintages release on July 19, 2008 described as “Even a megalomaniac blushes now and again. John Howard, the man behind the popular Megalomaniac series… The wine is fresh, fragrant, fruity, very dry and very refreshing. A summer porch-sipper. (Rick VanSickle, The Ottawa Sun, May 14, 2008). My notes: From Andrzej Lipinski, the same winemaker used by The Organized Crime Winery. A bright salmon pink in the glass with an aroma that needs to be coaxed by letting go off chill, perhaps a slight cherry. This hits the spot on a hot day… a touch of sweet and tart apple flavour followed by a mild red cherry. The flavour slides into a finish with a slight sugary texture and a mineral tinge. A straight forward rosé, no herbs or spice to complicate sipping either by itself or with a cold buffet: sweet and sour chicken wings, cocktail sausages, shrimp ring or mild cheese tray. A drink now suitable for an afternoon patio crowd. 80

Provence, France, 14.0% XD, #701318 $17.95 (Tasted July 17, 2008)

A Vintages release on June 21, 2008 described as “According to Robert Parker Jr., Domaine Maby is a winery that 'never disappoints'. Their rosés are always anticipated because of their depth of flavour and beautiful balance of fruit and acid. Just say 'Maby Baby' and enjoy it as an aperitif or with freshly-caught trout or bass.” My notes: The LCBO description hasn’t changed since my first purchase of the 2005 vintage after the Vintages release on June 24, 2006 – likely earlier. (Shouldn't there be a 'time out' on any critic's notes?) A pretty cherry red with a pinkish rim in a tulip glass and faint floral aromas of rose petals. Medium-bodied with an appealing smoothness, flavours are a dry combination of red cherries and cranberries and the finish is short leaving cherry stone and clay on the palate. Serve slightly off chill with cocktail sandwiches or olives and mild cheeses. Not easily paired unless with luncheon fare: cold sliced or minced ham on baguette, sliced pork or turkey on a multi-grain bun both with greens or a fruit salad. I found no difference from the 2005 vintage tasted June 2006 except for being $2 more. Not a value. 84

Ontario, Canada, 11.0% D, #078394 $14.95 (Tasted July 13, 2008)

A Vintages release on June 7, 2008 described as “This ebullient rosé is just bursting with ripe red-berry fruit flavours (cherry, raspberry and strawberry) and culminates in a crisp and refreshing finish. Chill this rosé for thirty minutes and serve it as a tasty accompaniment to grilled-chicken satays, tuna steaks or a light vegetarian meal on the patio.” My notes: A vivid light cherry red and aromas of cherries, strawberries and slight sweat. Light-bodied, dry, crisp, strawberry tainted cherry and a moderate dry, cherry stone finish. I found it to be an uninteresting sipper, slightly better off chill. Would be OK with chicken wings or roast chicken breast. I didn’t go for a second glass - a drink now without flaws or distinction. 76

Rhone, France, 14.0% XD, #739474 $14.95 (Tasted July 8, 2008)

Released by Vintages on May 10, 2008 described as “Tavel rosés are more robust and flavourful than those of Provence, making them excellent candidates for food matching. It pairs particularly well with herbed chicken dishes and grilled vegetables (eggplant, zucchini and red pepper).” My notes: Les Vignerons de Tavel fermented, blended and bottled this cherry red rosé. Fragrances of dry cherries and a whiff of almost ripened strawberry make for the start of a freshening first sip. Tart and dry but round and flavours of watermelon, tea and cherry stone set up the taste buds for nibbling or dining: shaved meats, fresh oysters, fried octopus rings or pair with grilled sea bass, salmon, roast chicken or pork cutlet. I enjoyed letting this go off chill for a better balance of herbaceous elements and fruit in aromas and flavours. The finish is smooth, slightly chalky with a lasting warmth. A drink now. 86

Hawkes Bay, NZ, 13.5% XD, #599951 $13.95 (Tasted July 6, 2006)

A Vintages release on July 5, 2008 described as “Deliciously appealing pink ruby colour, this medium-bodied style tastes deep and earthy and just a little leathery with blueberries seemingly the dominant fruit until summer berries take over the finish. (Sue Courtney, www.wineoftheweek.com, Sept. 4, 2007).” My notes: Serve at or just above room temperature. The colour of crushed raspberries and an aroma that even some airing time could not rouse – perhaps a weak tea. Dry, tart raspberries and cranberries blended for a light fruit flavouring then finishing spicy on the palate with a smooth texture. Cab Franc lovers would find the raspberry/cranberry combination with the savoury edge interesting but it could also turn some sippers off. I’d call it an ‘acquired taste’ and not my preference for a rosé. Have with nibbles, a cheese tray or with shrimp/cream cheese and crackers and a good alternative for light meats: grilled ham slice and raisin sauce, pork chop and applesauce – was great with planked salmon. Cellaring for two years may introduce some herbal layers. 88

CAVE SPRING ROSÉ 2006 VQA Niagara Peninsula,
Ontario, Canada, 12.3% D, #295006 $13.05 (Tasted July 6, 2008)

A General listing described as “Brilliant rose colour; fragrant raspberry and fresh picked strawberry aromas and flavours with apple notes; dry, light to medium bodied, finishes with crisp dry finish. Serve with cold cuts; fish soup; salad plate; grilled salmon burgers.” My notes: Grapes are from Beamsville Bench 96% (Cave Spring Vineyard) and Niagara River 4% and 67% cabernet franc is blended with 22% cabernet sauvignon, 7% gamay and 4% syrah. A delicate salmon pink shows brightly in a tulip bowl and aromas of strawberry with a watermelon edge greets the first senses. A sip is definitely dry, lightish medium-body, somewhat silky and full of freshly crushed strawberries. The fruit last for awhile until a dryness creeps in urging the next sip. A wonderful summer quencher served chilled with sweet Italian sausage or shelled shrimp both grilled and with mustard and tartar sauce, resp. This would substitute for a floral white for a flavourful whitefish or mushroom pasta entrée, scallops, or spicy mussels. Cellaring for a year would make sure this vintage is handy for your next summer get together. A value. 90

Riverland, Australia, 13.5% D, #068908 $18.95 (Tasted July 1, 2008)

A Vintages release on June 21, 2008 described as “Our Quality Assurance laboratory has determined that this wine contains 15 mg/L of free sulphur. Salena's family-owned estate winery modified their vineyard practices and launched a range of certified organic wines including this rosé blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvèdre. The 2007 growing season was very warm and dry in Riverland so the bright fruity flavours of strawberry and raspberry are very ripe. It's dry, medium-bodied and soft-textured with a crisp fruity finish you can enjoy all summer long.” My notes: A blend of 68% grenache, 24% shiraz and 8% mataro grapes from Riverland vineyards gives a deep cherry with a bright pink rim and fragrance of soft strawberry and weak tea. Medium-bodied with lots of drying tartness in the first sip with unripe berry flavours having a citrus, almost orange twist quickly followed by a tart, clay finish. The unique layering of flavours and dry texture may not satisfy some (my BH likes it!) – serve with cheese nibbles. A drink now - have with whitefish entrees, shrimp or scallops. 83

Ontario, Canada, 13.5% XD, #039974 $14.95 (Tasted June 30, 2008)

Released by Vintages on June 7, 2008 described as “The 2007 is a blend of Pinot Noir (that spent only 48 hours on its skin) plus a touch of Riesling and Chardonnay for aromatics and body. Very pale salmon-pink colour. Pretty aromas of delicate cherry, rosehip, red pepper jelly and cranberry dominate. Dry with a very nice mouthfeel supported by soft acids. This wine is a fine match for a variety of foods, including lobster salad, smoked salmon with capers, grilled calamari or pulled-pork sandwiches. (VINTAGES panel, April 2008).” My notes: Packaging could be better for this delightful rosé which shows a delicate salmon pink, bright and clear in a tulip glass. Serve slightly off chill to allow aromas of light apricot and faint rose petal to develop. A roundness gives an impression of sweetness in the first sip quickly corrected by a definite dryness and flavours of faint apricot and apple. The flavours are followed by an apple peel edge and smooth texture making this an interesting sipper, definitely dry. Suitable as an aperitif or serve with fresh oysters, a tray of mixed fruit: cantaloupe, red and green grapes, cherries and mild cheeses or pair with shrimp and scallop skewers or grilled telapia, bbq’d chicken or sweet and sour wings on a bed of basmati rice. Cellar for a few years could improve layering but check after a year. An excellent value. 90

South Africa, 14.0% D, #655225 $13.85 (Retasted June 29, 2008)

A Vintages re-release on June 9, 2008 described as “2006 [is] gorgeous top to toe; cerise hued, bright fruited multi blend; dry & food-perfect. Transports you to the Côte d'Azure. Rated 3½ of 5 by Christine Rudman, John Platter South African Wines, 2007).” My notes: Last tasted in April 2007. A blend of shiraz, pinotage, cinsault, grenache, gamay and merlot makes a varietal identity mute for this rosé. An aroma of sweat and cherry pits not one that would entice a sipper but so faint not to be unpleasant. The colour is a mid cherry red and a mild cherry flavour with soft tartness on the first sip. The flavour develops with thin cherry fruit, raspberry and cherry pits leading to a pithy, berry finish with no predominant sweetness. A passable sipper for a large crowd with a name that entertains an idle mind (not meant to be personal). Nibbles of mild cheeses to aged cheddars, shaved meats or broccoli flowers and dip or pair with chicken breast or creamy seafood dishes. A year or two ageing is possible but more of a commercial drink-now. Ww78

A VALLEY ROSÉ 2006, Australia, 13.5% D, #034249 $16.85 (Retasted June 28, 2008)

A Vintages release on July 7, 2007 and described on the back label as “… brimming with summer berry fruits – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries – brought to you with refreshing acidity… “ My notes: A red cherry red with fragrance of crushed strawberries along with a raspberry or two. A lightish, medium-bodied, smooth sipper with a flavour of strawberries with a tart cranberry tinge or perhaps slightly unripe strawberries. A natural sweetness is nicely masked by the flavours and acid and leaves a silky finish on the palate. A sociable sipper suitable for a summertime refreshment. Have by itself or with a cheese and fruit tray, some light seafood nibbles, light paté or hummus on toasts or with a whitefish or roast chicken entrée. Last tasted in September 2007. 85

Veneto, Italy, 12.5% D, #045203 $12.95 (Tasted June 28, 2008)

Released by Vintages on June 21, 2008 described as “The warm and moderating Adige River's course runs from the Austrian border through Alto Adige into Veneto, meanders right through the centre of Bardolino, and finally empties into the Adriatic Sea near Venice. Chiaretto... , an Italian term for rosé, literally means 'neither red nor white'. Made with the local Corvina and Rondinella grapes, the wines are allowed only a few hours on their skins to extract the pleasant pink colour. Serve this light and fruity wine with appetizers, cold cuts or pan-fried freshwater fish.” My notes: A peachy pink in a tulip glass and aromas of sweet cherries and a scent of roses. The first sip has an appealing nip and a dryness that precedes flavours of cherries leaving a long, smooth and dry finish. A sociable sipper slightly less sweet to be enjoyed by anyone in a mood for conversation. Have by itself or with shaved Italian meats, crisps with olive spread, anchovies on bagel chips or pair with planked salmon or bbq’d chicken. Cellaring for two to four years could prove interesting. An excellent value now. Ww89

Rioja, Spain, 13.0% XD, #603795 $12.95 (Tasted June 23, 2008)

A June 7, 2008 Vintages release described as "One of my favourite Rioja estates, Bodegas Muga continues to fashion traditionally made cuvées, but also has a foot in the future." (Robert Parker Jr., June 30, 2005). Made with Garnacha, Tempranillo and Viura, this 2007 vintage is dry and flavourful with a bright raspberry and strawberry nose. A great complement to paella or pan-fried freshwater fish.” My notes: A delightful peachy pink but almost no bouquet, fruit or floral, until it goes off chill (12-15C) then a light strawberry and melba apple starts to show. Flavours are a tart pomegranate and rhubarb blend, refreshing, very dry with a not excessive but pleasing smoothness. The finish carries the flavours adding a bit of fruit stone as an ending. If you don’t mind dry then this could be a sipper, however, most would appreciate an assorted fruit and mild cheese tray. Save for tapas or fried squid or pair with assorted Mediterranean fish dishes. Fresh or saltwater: trout, arctic char, pickerel or perch, telapia or cod could be great companions as well. Not for the cellar – drink now. 85

WILDASS (STRATUS) ROSÉ 2006 VQA Niagara Peninsula,
Ontario, Canada, 12.5% XD, #071712 $19.00 (Tasted June 21, 2008)

A Vintages release on June 7, 2008 described as “This boldly unique blend of Gamay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah is aged in oak for 16 months before bottling… Batches that are declassified down to the Wildass tier have been farmed to the same exacting standards that crafted bottles that fetch $45 per bottle [Stratus White and Red]. This is a rosé that drinks like a red wine. The Gamay-dominant blend reveals an interesting spicy and cherry nose that gains more oomph from extended barrel maturation. This seems fresher and [fruitier] than the 2005 Wildass Rosé, but still stands at the extreme edge of the rosé spectrum. (3½ of 5, Christopher Waters, March 31, 2008)” My notes: A bright red cherry red with cherry skin aromas, some clay with the fruit. Light and dry from the first sip with the clay persisting in the finish, cranberry tinged at the end carrying the dryness to the roof of the mouth and lips – a mild tang. Have with freshwater fish: pickerel or perch, trout or sweet sunfish. Served chilled on a hot day it’s an uninteresting cooler - adding a half shot of cherry cordial and crushed ice sets it up nicely – then it’s ‘wild’. Not a value. 76

Ontario, Canada, 11.5% XD, #685610 $14.95 (Tasted June 18, 2008)

A Vintages release on June 7, 2008 described as “Henry of Pelham was blessed with an exceptional harvest in 2007, with each of their individual grape varieties meeting or exceeding expectations. Cabernet Sauvignon, the last variety picked, is showcased here in this fresh, crisp rosé. Floral and berry-fruit aromas emerge from the glass while flavours of cherry, rhubarb and lemon zest dance on the palate. This will make a lovely partner to grilled chicken or summer salads.” My notes: There’s a slight peach hue to this strawberry coloured rosé. The nose has a swampy taint even after airing. A soft texture with a drying impact on the palate and faint flavours of mineral tinged raspberry complete with some crushed seeds. The finish lasts a short while giving some fruit flavours that quickly fade. Not a sipper and difficult to suggest nibbles: garlic bagel crisps, shrimp ring or asparagus spears doused with a butter-herb sauce perhaps. Pair with grilled freshwater fish - pickerel or perch. Not for cellaring and not recommended. 74

MALIVOIRE LADYBUG ROSÉ 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula,
Ontario, Canada, 13.0% D, #559088 $16.00 (Tasted June 17, 2008)

A Vintages release on June 7 , 2008 described as “Under the Ladybug name, Malivoire consistently crafts one of Ontario's most expressive and classy rosés. The 2007 vintage is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Merlot and a dollop of Pinot Noir. This refreshing, brightly fruity wine is delicious with prosciutto rolled in arugula leaves topped with black pepper, extra virgin olive oil and a shave of Parmigiano Reggiano, or even deli-style hot dogs with diced onion, Dijon mustard, and coarsely chopped tomato on a sesame-seed bun.” My notes: This has a light grenache hue and faint aromas of crushed red cherries. Quite different from the 2002 vintage based on pinot noir – more of a blend that's lost its identity. The flavours are delicate developing after a few sips as red cherry but less tart. Nicely rounded finish with the same delicate flavour, a light tartness with a stone fruit edge. Served slightly chilled it’s an innocuous sociable sipper for a warm afternoon on the patio. Have with salmon paté on crackers, tomato bruscetta or garlic stuffed olives. A meal pairing would be easier if tarter, something light: creamy pasta with chicken pieces or a chinese ginger dish. A drink-now. 79

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