BC’s Lovely Rosé

By / Magazine / August 28th, 2013 / 3

Let’s be honest: rosé has not always been BC’s most stellar effort. There was a time not that long ago when a few of them actually deserved the wide berth people gave them. Rosé was very much an afterthought, not taken seriously as a wine by consumers, let alone winemakers — not exactly the pillar of a producer’s portfolios.

In fact only one rosé (so far) has ever won a coveted BC Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in the 10 years since the competition started.

Part of the challenge was that rosé styles were (and to some degree still are) all over the map, although pink and off-dry — and occasionally candyfloss — might have been the most often applied descriptors.

However, in recent years, winemakers began to understand the value of lighter, drier, crisper and ultimately more food friendly styles — driven in part by an increasingly sophisticated consumer.

The tendency of liquor stores to regard rosé solely as a seasonal wine, traditionally ordered to be drunk fresh in the summer has also started to shift. More rosé showing up on shelves underscores its growing appreciation as a food wine — particularly with fresh cracked Dungeness crab.

In short, of course, it’s the wine’s marriage with food that makes it so wonderfully appealing. Pair it with classic Mediterranean fare such as toasted baguette slices, rubbed with garlic, drizzled with olive oil, topped with mayonnaise, chopped parsley and ripe tomato; or, pour it beside fresh halibut, flash boiled spot prawns, or even with a mild masala curry.

One of BC rosé’s most ardent advocates is Okanagan Crush Pad’s David Scholefield, who recently took on his cohort and winemaker Michael Bartier in a fun “Rosé Smackdown” promotion — that, interestingly, actually highlighted rosé’s ageability when properly made.

“What we need to make is a true expression of the vineyard; to produce wines that show juicy minerality,” says Scholefield. “We don’t need to impose some false, foreign notion. We have fresh, clean wines that are delicious when they’re young but which also have the ability to age. Our wines hang on their acidity — and that’s the great expression of the Okanagan!”


Fort Berens Pinot Noir Rosé 2012, Lillooet ($18)

Worth waiting for, the first estate rosé release from the first winery in Lillooet, one of BC’s newest regions (a good 300 km from the Okanagan Valley). Crisp and clean with pomegranate, apple and strawberry notes wrapped in bright acidity.

Stag’s Hollow Syrah Rosé 2012, Okanagan Falls ($20)

Pale to medium rose coloured. Tangerine and bright red fruit on the nose followed by well balanced, firm acidity with lively strawberry notes before a crisp end.

Quails Gate Gamay Rosé 2012 ($16)

Winemaker Grant Stanley planted Gamay specifically to make rosé. 24-hour skin contact yields a medium salmon colour; a fruit-forward entry with rhubarb and apple notes before a dry finish. Good value.

Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series 2 Bench Rosé 2012 ($23)

Cabernet Franc (51%) and Syrah blend (49%) sports pale to medium salmon colour with pure, clean, wild strawberry, rhubarb and a touch of citrus.

Liquidity Wines Rosé 2012, Okanagan Falls ($18)

Made from old vines Dornfelder; assertively fruit forward strawberry and red berry notes with savoury undertones and a touch of oak.

JoieFarm “Re-Think Pink” Rosé 2012 ($21)

Loire inspired Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir blend sports intense, overtly fruity style dominated by raspberry, strawberry, and herbal notes with lingering dry cherry toned finish.

Bella Sparkling Gamay Noir 2011 ($24)

Inaugural release from this small Okanagan producer delivers a delightful balance of fruit and acidity, with cranberry and strawberry notes and a hint of citrus on a gently creamy palate before a crisp, clean end. Méthode traditionnelle, crown cap.

Haywire The Bub Rosé ($25)

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blend with Syrah dosage produces appealing pale pink colour with bright fruit, green apple and cherry notes before a dry finish.

Gray Monk Odyssey Sparkling Brut Rosé ($20)

A blend of Pinot Meunier, Gamay Noir and Pinot Noir. Vibrant salmon colour and lively bubbles, fresh cut rhubarb on the nose, with a broad palate of strawberry, and a touch of melon, before a clean finish that tastes drier than it is.

BS (Bartier Scholefield) Gamay Noir Rosé 2010 ($19)

From Wise Brothers vineyard on Secrest Mountain in Oliver. Juicy red berries with strawberry and earthy notes in a broad palate with melon hints and a juicy, dry end.

Haywire Gamay Noir Rosé 2010 ($19)

Pale salmon toned with bright cherry and cranberry notes, developing but still with vibrant acidity and clean, refreshing finish.

Photo credit: erlwas


Tim Pawsey (aka The Hired Belly) continues to document the dynamic evolution of the Vancouver and BC food scene both on line and in print, as he has for over 30 years, for respected outlets such as the Vancouver Courier, North Shore News and Where Vancouver magazine. Follow him at hiredbelly.com and facebook.com/TheHiredBelly.

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