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Coming Up Rosés: nine great bottles of the ultimate summer dinner party wine

(Illustration: Jack Dylan)

I recently hosted a dinner devoted entirely to rosé. It was on a terrace in Crillon-le-Brave, a small town in Provence, and I was joined by a group of Canadians who were there for a gastro-cycling adventure in Mont Ventoux, the site of the toughest leg of the Tour de France. Most of them were skeptical about pink wine, having only drunk cheap Mateus in their college days. But I was determined to convince them. We were, after all, in the heartland of dry rosé— the grenache, syrah, mourvèdre and carignan vines planted in the arid, stony soils of southern France produce fresh yet rich lavender- and anise-scented pinks. Our aperitif was a zesty Côtes du Ventoux, followed by a delicate, pale Côtes de Provence to go with the shellfish. With grilled pork and ratatouille we ramped up into richer, creamier Tavel. By the time the sun set, the sky matched the colour in our glasses and the doubters were silenced. Here, my favourite rosés for the summer. They won’t cost you a trip to Provence, or your reputation.

Malivoire 2011 Ladybug
Malivoire 2011 Ladybug
$16 | Niagara | 91 points
Blended from cabernet franc (67 per cent), pinot noir and gamay, Ladybug is the standard-bearer for Ontario rosé. The nose is gentle yet complex, with strawberries and currants etched with lavender and grapefruit flavours. It’s mid-weight, fresh and pristine. LCBO. Vintages 559088
Château d’Aquéria 2011 Tavel
Château d’Aquéria 2011 Tavel
$19 | Rhone Valley, France | 90 points
The sleepy town of Tavel produces the heftiest rosés in France. This deep garnet wine packs 13.5 per cent alcohol. Lifted plum, straw-berry and lavender scents com­plement pomegranate rind bitterness on the finish. It’s smooth and rich, with excellent length. Vintages. LCBO 319368
Château de Berne 2011 Terres de Berne
Château de Berne 2011 Terres de Berne
$17 | Côtes de Provence, France | 90 points
Provençal rosé is the unofficial seaside sipper of the French Riviera. This lightweight version is pale pearl with a lifted nose of redcurrant, persimmon, grapefruit and the slightest hint of oyster shell. Classic anise flavours linger on the finish. Vintages. LCBO 278861
Southbrook Triomphe 2011 Cabernet Franc
Southbrook Triomphe 2011 Cabernet Franc
$20 | Niagara | 90 points
Provençal rosé is the unofficial seaside sipper of the French Riviera. This lightweight version is pale pearl with a lifted nose of redcurrant, persimmon, grapefruit and the slightest hint of oyster shell. Classic anise flavours linger on the finish. Vintages. LCBO 278861
Château val Joanis 2011 Tradition Syrah
Château val Joanis 2011 Tradition Syrah
$15 | Luberon, France | 89 points
From the hills of Luberon, this silver-copper rosé is one of the palest I have seen. The nose is mild but ultra-fresh, with well-integrated flavours of persimmon, grapefruit, red onion and pepper. It’s mouth-watering, with long-lasting anise notes. Vintages. LCBO 707281
Stoneleigh 2011 Pinot Noir
Stoneleigh 2011 Pinot Noir
$17 | Marlborough, New Zealand | 88 points
Pale-skinned, high-acid pinot noir makes for striking and intense rosés. Expect a blast of red fruit on the nose—pomegranate, strawberry and sour cherry—along with a vague herbal note. It’s mid-weight, tart and lively, with a veil of sweetness, then a bitter finish. Serve well-chilled. LCBO 122275
Emiliana 2011 Adobe
Emiliana 2011 Adobe
$12 | Rapel Valley, Chile | 87 points
New World rosés can be over-the-top confected and gooey, but this pale cabernet-based version from Chile’s leading organic producer harmonizes complex flavours of sour cherry, strawberry, herbs and citrus. It’s lively yet smooth, with an herbal finish. Chill it well. LCBO 274399
Ogier 2011 Côtes du Ventoux
Ogier 2011 Côtes du Ventoux
$11 | Rhone Valley, France | 87 points
From vineyards in the shadow of Mont Ventoux, this pale pinkie captures the essential spirit of French grenache-syrah rosé. It’s fresh, dry and engaging with lifted aromas of rhubarb, currants, red onion and pepper. It’s mid-weight, firm and spicy, with a slightly hot and bitter finish. LCBO 134916
Muga 2011
Muga 2011
$13 | Rioja, Spain | 87 points
Spain makes oceans of dry rosado based on grenache from the northern provinces of Navarra and Rioja. This delicate version has a lifted nose of redcurrants, fresh basil and oregano. It’s light bodied, zesty and dry, with grapefruit bitterness and minerality on the finish. Vintages. LCBO 603795
Scores: David Lawrason assigns scores on a 100-point scale. They reflect a wine’s overall quality.
A rating of 95 to 100 is outstanding; 90 to 94 excellent; 85 to 89 very good; 80 to 84 good.

 

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