Everything's Coming Up Rosé This Summer
It took longer than normal in Canada this year for the sort of weather that allows for extended patio stays and the realization that maybe you should maybe have put on suntan lotion. But we’re finally here! So with the weather finally warm it’s time to give some tips on what to drink this summer.
Let’s start with Rosé. I think we are past the point where I have to implore men to drink this beautiful style of wine. After years of “real men drink pink” campaigns we all get the overly simplistic message that, yes, it’s alright to possess more testosterone than estrogen while sipping a glass of rosé. Also for any dude questioning their manhood as they stare at a glass of a light pink/salmon coloured wine just remember that Ernest Hemingway loved drinking rosé. So get over yourself.
In fact, his favourite rosé was from an area in Southern France called Tavel, so let’s start in the appellation of Tavel where, by law, the only wine they can make is rosé. The wines here are usually made from Grenache and Cinsault. There are so many different flavour profiles here, but in general expect them to be very dry, plenty of red fruit and a higher level of alcohol than you may not be expecting, so that’s always a bonus. No matter where you are buying wine you can usually find Tavel available.
As for style of rosé beyond Tavel, my message is explore the world. I usually focus on the versions from France (because, you know, I’m a snob). But there are plenty of great options from all over the world (dive into the world of Spain!) That includes Canada.
I would also recommend looking for versions from Provence which are usually lighter versions than Tavel plus it allows you to drop the oh so classy line of “I prefer my rosé from Provence’. If you’re the type of person that prefers a bit more heft with your wine than hunt down rosé from another small wine region that is right on the Mediterranean coast, Bandol. Here you will find the wines are made from a much bigger/meaty grape called Mourvèdre. These are harder-to-find wines, but are well worth it, can be drunk with many meats and you can cellar them for up to 10 years.
I mentioned Canada earlier. I want to give a quick shout-out to Mission Hill winery. Their rosé is packed with fresh red fruit, great body and went well with a big plate of charcuterie.
Some other recommendations:
1-From Bandol: Tempier, Terrebrune & Pibarnon. (Warning! These ones are not cheap but worth it for that special summer weekend.)
2-From Provence: Château Gassier, Caves d'Esclans Whispering Angel
3-From Tavel: Château d'Aquéria
Moving on to whites, let me echo the sentiment screamed by so many people in the wine industry (and by Bruce Dowbiggin himself): Drink More Riesling. I know it got a lousy reputation in the 1970’s and 80’s as sticky sweet goop from Germany, but I promise you it has changed! It goes great with all sorts of spicy foods and most salads.
In Ontario you can find great stuff from under $20 dollar versions (Featherstone Black Sheep) to higher-end versions from Pearl Morissette and Two Sisters. But do go back to Germany and try the different versions that come from their three main wine-making regions of Mosel, Rheingau and Pfalz. Mosel are the most delicate with some sweetness but lots of floral notes and peach.
Rheingau Riesling in general are considered to have more structure and minerality and usually drier, while Pfalz Riesling, have more body and are richer due to a warmer temperature. Now all of this is a massive generalization, the point is to go out and try some wines from producers whose names you can’t pronounce but produce some unbelievable wine.
Some other quick tips:
1-Unless you have a line on some high quality Pinot Grigio from Italy, I say skip this wine altogether, Too often it is just a simple alcohol delivery system with some basic lemon and lime notes. As one Sommelier said “Pinot Grigio is just liquid cold”.
2-On hot days avoid the heavier Chardonnays, especially those from Napa Valley. Instead look for un-oaked versions or the wines from Chablis (Northern part of Burgundy). This has the added bonus of usually being a cheaper option as Limousin oak ain’t cheap.
3-Be adventurous. If you see a Gruner Veltliner or a Chenin Blanc from South Africa or the Loire Valley give it an order. These wines have solid acidity and freshness that is perfect for a warm day.
As for red wine in the hot days of summer, avoid the bigger heavier Cabernet Sauvignons, Australian Shiraz or Zinfandel. There will be plenty of time come Fall to get back into your tannic wines. I usually stick to Pinot Noir from Prince Edward County (Ontario) or Burgundy and lighter Chiantis from Tuscany. If you want something with a bit more body, open something based on Cabernet Franc— such as the wines from the Loire or the Bordeaux blends that can be found in the Okanagan Valley.
Don’t be afraid to ask for your red wine to be slightly chilled— just make sure you ask your server super politely so you don’t come off as a diva.
Enjoy the Summer!
Matt Cauz @mcauz56
Matthew has explored the wineries of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Barolo and many other parts of the world that do start with the letter “B” including New Zealand and California. When he’s not looking for that next great bottle he is a radio host for TSN 1050 in Toronto.