Niagara wine

By Rick VanSickle

In honour of International Rosé Day on Saturday, and the rosé soirées happening all over Niagara wine country this weekend, we offer a roundup of some of the best rosés in Ontario and B.C.

We can barely keep up with the new releases of this most popular style of wine, but with 23 pinks here in this post, we’re sure there’s something that will fit your palate.

Grab some rosé and enjoy the weekend of pink with parties at Henry of Pelham (Rosé All Day), Malivoire (We the Rosé) and Peller wineries (Yes Way, Rosé at Peller Estates, Trius Winery, Thirty Bench and Wayne Gretzky Estates).

We still have more rosés to taste and notes from a few we haven’t posted yet (we will add them as we get them), but for now, here are 23 rosés from B.C. to Ontario we think you will enjoy.

Note: Rosés are listed in alphabetical order.

Ontario Rosés

Ontario wine

Chateau des Charmes Rosé Cuvée D’Andrée 2016 ($16, 89 points) — Subtle, pretty nose of cherries, strawberries and summer raspberries. This 100% Pinot Noir rosé is nice and dry on the palate, and shows a ripe basket of red fruits with a touch of earth to go with a fresh, vibrant and crisp finish. Alcohol is kept to 12.5%.

Fielding Rosé 2017 ($16, 89 points) — Winemaker Richie Roberts blends Gamay (80%) with Pinot Noir (20%) from fruit grown specifically for grown this popular pale pink rosé being released at Vintages Saturday. It’s redolent in juicy red berries and subtle plum notes with a touch of earth and cassis on the nose. This rosé is refreshing on the palate with pretty red berries, some earthy/savoury undertones and lifted by citrus notes through the vibrant finish.

Flat Rock Cellars Pink Twisted 2017 ($18, 88 points) — A bit of an unusual rosé style blend of Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer and Riesling that shows a bright electric pink colour in the glass. The nose shows jammy red fruits, some citrus notes and a pinch of savoury spice. It has lovely texture on the palate, juicy red fruits, a hint of sweetness and vibrancy on the finish.

Foreign Affair Amarosé 2017 ($19, 89 points) — The winery calls this “a first-of-its-kind partial-appassimento rosé. The appassimento part comes from 10% dried Chardonnay added to the mostly Pinot Noir. I have no idea how they come up with these complicated formulas, but I do mostly like the results. It shows a pretty pink/salmon colour in the glass with a generous nose of strawberries, melon and a squirt of citrus. It has a creamy feel on the palate and is richer than some rosés we’re seeing in Niagara but still, it has wonderful red berries and uplifting citrus accents on the finish.

Canada wine

Henry of Pelham Three of Hearts Rosé 2017 ($20, 90 points) — This pale salmon blend of Pinot Noir (62%) and Pinot Gris (38%) hits all the right notes for the more subtle and refreshing style of rosé consumers seem to be attracted to. Just the tapered bottle and labeling alone is enough to make a great first impression. Look for aromas of cherries, strawberries, peach, melon and wet hay. It has lovely texture, only a kiss of sweetness, and a whole lot of red berries and melon notes on the mid palate with citrus zest on the finish.

Malivoire Ladybug Rosé 2017 ($17, 89 points) — Malivoire makes 7,500 cases of this most popular rosé at Vintages and represents one-third of the total production at the winery. It’s a blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 20% each of Pinot Noir and Gamay and shows a little darker in the glass than the two more delicate rosés in the portfolio. The aromas range from ripe raspberry and strawberry to lemon zest and grapefruit. It’s a ripe version of rosé with red fruits and citrus zest in a mouth-watering style kept refreshing through the clean and racy finish.

Malivoire Vivant Rosé 2017 ($20, 91 points) — The most important thing you need to know about Malivoire’s rosé program is this: They grow all the grapes that go into the top rosés specifically for rosé. It’s not an after-thought or a fad; Malivoire is as much about the rosé as it is about the Gamay, its two most treasured varietals. If the grapes for the rosé are not up to the quality they want for the rosés they want to make, they will de-classify the grapes to make something else. It’s that simple. The Vivant is a 100% expression of Pinot Noir from the Mottiar and Malivoire vineyards. “We’re looking for delicacy, layers and complexity but also balance,” says winemaker Mottiar. “I want the acidity to carry that fruit.” It has a lovely pale pink colour and a nose of freshly crushed red berries, subtle earthiness and just a squirt of citrus. It’s bright, bone dry and expressive on the palate — delicate yes, but also complex with a range of pretty red fruits, pink grapefruit and minerality all carried by lively acidity through the finish.

Malivoire Moira Rosé 2017 ($25, 93 points) — The bomb, right here. The most complex and interesting rosé from Niagara I have tasted. Again, made from 100% Pinot Noir, but this one is from the estate’s main single vineyard called Moira, named for Malivoire’s wife Moira Saganski and purchased in 1995. Moira is distinguished by vines whose deep roots ensure robust health and vigorous fruit acidity. “These wines have always had harmony of aromatics, texture and length while aging infinitely … the 1998 (first vintage) is still showing beautifully,” commented Southbrook winemaker Ann Sperling, in a poll of Niagara’s top vineyards published in Wines In Niagara here. Mottiar says the Moira “sings a little longer” and is made in a more precious, subtler style that sneaks up on you. The nose is tight, delicate and complex with a range of red fruits and floral notes. It shows its true beauty on the palate with such expressive crushed red berries, layers of complexity, earth and bramble undertones and taut tension between the electric acidity and the juicy fruits all leading to a fresh, clean and super-long finish. This is complex enough that you can cellar 1+ years for further development.

Organized Crime Rosé 2017 (90 points) — I hesitate to write about this delicious rosé because you can only get it at restaurants. A full third of the production went to Treadwell’s in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and if James Treadwell buys that much, you know it’s a great wine. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot that was fermented in a combination of neutral oak and stainless steel. It’s a little darker in colour than the current trend but has lovely aromas of crushed red berries and mineral notes. It has beautiful texture and shows a richer, more complex profile on the palate with minerals and balancing acidity. A really nice, bolder style of rosé.

Ravine Vineyard Cabernet Rosé 2017 ($25, 91 points) — This 100% Cabernet Franc rosé shows an inviting pale salmon colour in the glass and has a savoury nose of crushed red berries, bramble and subtle herbs. It is ripe and elegant on the palate with gushing red fruits, not bone dry, but balanced with a refreshing, lingering finish.

Rosehall Run Just One Rose Rosé 2017 ($18, 89 points) — This blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir is bursting with cherries, strawberries and cranberries on the nose. It turns prettier on the plate with the full range of red fruits, hint of sweetness but all leading to dry, refreshing finish. Tasty!

Stratus Wildass Rosé 2017 ($19, 88 points) — This is an unusual assemblage of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Tempranillo and Cabernet Franc that works brilliantly here. It has a slightly more vibrant salmon hue than some of the other Niagara rosés hitting store shelves. It shows a range of crushed red berries, a floral note and grapefruit/citrus accents on the nose. It’s made in a refreshing, crisp style on the palate with bright cherry/raspberry fruits and underlying citrus that keeps everything lively through the finish.

Thirty Bench Small Lot Rosé 2017 ($23, 88 points) — The 2017 version of this rosé is a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, so be prepared for a slightly darker, richer and more forward sip than the current trend. The nose shows bright cherries, raspberries, cassis and rhubarb notes. It shows a bolder style on the palate with ripe red fruits, a touch of currants and blackberries with tingly acidity on the finish.

Trius Rosé 2017 ($18, 89 points) — Made from a tantalizing blend of 52% Gamay Noir, 27% Pinot Gris and 21% Syrah that has a pale salmon colour in the clear glass bottle adorned in fancy pink type. It has pretty and delicate aromas of strawberries, cran-cherries and pomegranates. It’s perfectly dry, refreshing and bursting with red berries on a textured finish. Simply delicious! Only 12% abv.

Two Sisters Rosé 2017 ($35, 91 points) — We’re starting to see lots of wonderful Niagara rosés hit the shelves in Niagara. I came across this classic version from Two Sisters, with its gorgeously slim, tall, tapered and clear glass bottle and cork closure that screamed elegance from the get-go. The mostly Merlot blend shows a pale pink colour with notes of crushed red berries and cranberries in a refreshing style on the nose. It has pop on the palate with an elegant melange of red fruits that were all together presented in a dry, refreshing style. Good juice.

When Pigs Fly Pinot Noir Rosé 2017 ($20, 89 points) — It shows a pale salmon colour in the bottle and glass and has a refreshing nose of savoury red berries and a subtle note of quince. It’s crisp and dry on the palate with an array of red fruits that show some complexity and dimension — not easy to do with this style. As Andre Proulx says“The crisp acidity makes this wine easy to drink and your mouth will be begging for the next sip. Drink it with whatever the hell you want as long as you pair it with good company and a second glass.”

B.C. Rosés

Culmina R&D Rosé Blend 2017 ($19, 90 points) — Shows a pretty light copper colour in the glass with delicate aromas of crushed red berries and citrus accents. This is serious rosé, a blend of  Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, with layered raspberry, cherry, cranberry and strawberry fruits with a subtle note of herbs and citrus on the finish. Love this.

Fort Berens Rosé 2017 ($18, 88 points) — A blend of 80% Pinot Noir and the rest Gamay Noir that shows a vibrant pink colour in the glass. The inviting nose displays a basket of summer red berries that carries brilliantly to the palate with added creamy notes and just a kiss of sweetness on the finish. Summer in a glass.

Haywire Gamay Rosé 2017 ($23, 90 points) — This Gamay was fermented dry using native yeasts in a mix of both stainless steel and concrete tanks. Look for an interesting and multi-dimensional nose of savoury red fruits and subtle herbs. On the palate, a range of cherry and raspberry fruits are joined by bramble and fresh herbs with a mouth-watering finish.

JoieFarm Chic Fille Pinot Meunier Rosé 2017 ($35, 91 points) — The wine shows a light cherry red colour in the glass and has an interesting umami nose of earth and foraged mushroom notes with bright watermelon, cherry, bramble and dried herbs. There is some reduction on the palate, an almost backward, rustic wine with tangy red fruits, savoury herbs, some tannic structure and bracingly dry and fresh through the finish. Put out a plate of salty foods, olives, almonds and charcuterie and enjoy. This natural rosé might not be for everyone, but it will certainly stimulate a wonderful conversation.

JoieFarm Re-Think Pink! Rosé 2017 ($24, 89 points) — This bright pink rosé is a blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Gamay. As you would expect, plenty of raspberry/strawberry notes on the nose, but also interesting savoury notes emerge. You can feel some tannins on the palate adding a touch of structure on the palate to go with red fruits, cranberry and freshening acidity on the finish.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Organic Syrah Malbec Rosé 2017 ($23, 89 points)— Made with fresh, first run juice (saignée style) and cold soaked for 24 hours, this is a bold expression of rosé with ripe raspberry, cherry and watermelon with underlying savoury notes. On the palate, the range of red fruits and touch of sweetness feels balanced and refreshing. Only 11% abv, so a lovely summer quaffer for sure.

Summerhill Alive Organic Rosé 2017 ($18, 90 points) — This 100% Pinot Noir rosé is a lovely light pink colour with a nose of pretty red berries, pomegranate and citrus zest. It’s perfectly dry and refreshing on the palate with seamlessly integrated red berries, touch of lemon zest and a vibrant, clean finish.