CTV Ottawa Morning Live

March 20th, 2015.

Today on CTV Morning Live, CTV Host Jeff Hopper, and Matt showcased some terrific wines to enjoy this spring as part of his regular wine segment.  Check it out here: Spring Wines as seen on CTV

Today’s theme: Spring Wines! 50 Shades of Rosé!

It has been a very long, cold, and dark winter, but now that spring is here, things are looking brighter and brighter so in addition to putting away your winter clothes it’s also an opportunity to incorporate more seasonal wine choices in your life.

In the winter I tend to open more red wine than white, sparkling, or rosé, but that changes in the spring. With the allure of patio season finally here, this is the time of the year that I absolutely love enjoying rosé wines. Picture a bistro set, a bottle of rosé resting in a bucket of ice, a couple of friends (wearing shades in the sun), and a plate of charcuterie. Does it get any better?

Rosé wines, are wines made from dark skinned grapes, like Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet, Syrah, Grenache, Cinsaut, and Malbec, and due to the winemaking technique they don’t take on those deeper and darker colours that red wines are known for. Instead, rosé wines impart only light to medium pink colours from a reduced time that the (grape) juice is in contact with the (grape) skins when pressed and fermented. Faint pink wines may have seen only an hour or so of ‘skin contact’ (grape juice in contact with grape skins (which provide the colour, taste, tannin, etc. of a wine)), whereas deep pink rosé wines may have had several days of skin contact to impart a much darker colour, and likely a much different wine style than the lighter coloured versions, but don’t let colour fool you, as there’s more to it than that.

Like sparkling wine (currently my favourite food friendly wine of choice!), rosé wines are produced in a wide array of styles from bone dry (mouth puckering acidity (great for pairing with rich food)), to sweet (giving flavours of cotton candy, bubble gum, and artificial fruit). The sweet versions are often referred to as “blush”. I love the bone dry to dry styles as they’re terrific with food, and on their own they’re incredibly refreshing. As far as the blush style of rosé that often taste like cotton candy, I don’t have much interest or reason to pour it as I find it typically lacks acidity and also pack hundreds of calories per glass in residual sugar. There is a time and place for those wines, I just don’t happen to find myself there.

Practically every wine region in the world produces rosé. One region, Tavel, in the south of France, produces nothing but rosé, 100% rosé, and always dry in style. Needless to say, they do it very well and have been for hundreds of years (Louis XIV in the 18th century favoured Tavel). But France isn’t the only country that produces great rosé. Canada does too! Canada is beginning to solidify its place on the international wine scene as a top producer of sparkling wine, including sparkling rosé. Each of the major winemaking regions in Canada is producing top notch traditional method (i.e. like Champagne) sparkling wine, and the rosé sparkling wines are some of the best.

In addition to a nice dry rosé on a warm day, one of my other favourites is sparkling rosé. The Champagne region in France is renowned for its rosé Champagne, produced with one or both of the dark grapes they use in Champagne: Pinot Noir; and, Pinot Meunier. Rosé bubbly tends to command a slight premium in price as Pinot Noir grapes can be challenging to grow due to their thin skins, so don’t be surprised if you have to pay a tad more for that bottle of bubbly rosé.

Today I choose two beautiful Canadian sparkling rosé wines.


13th Street Winery Cuvee Rosé, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada. $24.95

A gorgeous value-priced traditional method non-vintage sparkling rosé produced with 61% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay, and a hint of Gamay. 85% of the grapes come from 2011, yet, they don’t call it a 2011 vintage as 100% of the grapes would need to be from that single vintage.

This is a wine I’m really excited about. Since creating their first bubbly in 1998, 13th Street’s sparkling wines have been one of their great strengths – a fact further underlined when Winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas (who is considered something of a guru in Ontario sparkling wine circles) joined in 2009. Dry with a bright acidity and a fine, creamy mousse, the Brut Rosé has lovely red fruit, cran-apple, and mineral notes. Perfect as an aperitif or with smoked salmon or tuna tartare, charcuterie plates, and would be lovely with fresh garden salads with strawberries drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar. Such a versatile and well made wine! Incredible value for a traditional method sparkling wine. Enjoy now or cellar for a few extra years.

13th Street Winery Cuvee Rose


Benjamin Bridge 2011 Rosé, Nova Scotia, Canada – $44.95

A blend of 43% Pinot Meunier, 42% Pinot Noir, and 15% Chardonnay.

Benjamin Bridge 2011 Rose

Benjamin Bridge is quickly becoming recognized as Canada’s premiere traditional method sparkling wine producer so much that I’d suggest its on the verge of ‘Cult’ status, which is terrific in the wine business! Year after year they’re producing high quality vintage sparkling wine that is crafted to cellar and to enjoy with food, and/or celebrations, just like vintage Champagne. This rosé is terrific and would be a great complement to just about any meal you’d enjoy on a patio this spring, from seafood, salads, roast chicken, even lamb. Apple, brioche, red berries, match stick, and this refreshing mineral driven acidity, when coupled with the fine micro bubbles, it’s an outstanding achievement of taste and refinement. Check them out: http://benjaminbridge.com/sparklings/2011-rose

Rosé wines are very versatile, making them great wines to enjoy with food, yet, unlike a Bordeaux wine, you don’t need to drink them with food, which makes them ideal for just enjoying on a patio with some friends.

Next up,

Domaine Lafond Rosé, 2013, AOC Tavel, France – $24.95

Tavel is renowned for producing only dry (food friendly) rosé! A blend of 60% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10%Cinsault, and several other Rhone varietals.

Enjoy with BBQ fare, seafood, and especially classic Mediterranean French fare; sausage and peppers, grilled artichokes, charcuterie and cheese platters.

Domaine Lafond

Next up,

Quails’ Gate Winery Rosé 2014, Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada

This rosé is dry with a refreshing fruit flavour. A classic summer sipper! The Quails’ Gate Rosé is one of the region’s best examples of this summer fruit-forward wine. Enjoyable during spring, summer or fall, this rosé delivers exceptional flavour and great value.

Quails’ Gate 2014

Next up,

Culmina Winery, Saignée 2012, Okanagan, BC, Canada. $25 (winery direct)

A rosé made from bleeding off a portion of juice from their Bordeaux blend (Hypothesis) shortly after pressing the grapes. Culmina’s Saignée is a bright and lively rosé from select Bordeaux varietal micro blocks on the Triggs’ family estate. Subtle strawberry fruit, rosemary, and orange peel aromas along with rich fruit flavours. Talk about food friendly! Check out what the winery recommends to elevate both the wine and the food: Select charcuterie cuts of mortadella and capocollo; Tuscan-style chicken-liver crostini; West Coast Bouillabaisse with BC Halibut & Quadra Island clams; pan-seared BC sockeye salmon; Portuguese-style suckling pig grilled and charred fava bean salad; quail with a savoury thyme and strawberry compote. Sign me up!

Culmina Saginee

Next up,

The Wild Olive Rosé, 2014, Coastal Region, South Africa – $12.99

Named after the wild olive trees that are often found growing in the wine producing regions of the Western Cape, these trees can often be over a thousand years old. This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Crisp with subtle floral notes with watermelon, cherries, sandalwood, and a hint of tomato leaf. At this price point, this is a terrific wine to enjoy when hosting BBQ gatherings this spring and summer.

Next up,

Featherstone Winery Rosé, 2014, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada – $14.95

The 2013 vintage won an impressive double gold medal at the 2014 Ontario Wine Awards. Featherstone rosé is a great wine for any occasion. Produced in a dry (quite very fruity) style, it’s versatile, and I’d recommend enjoying it on its own, chilled on ice, or pairing with sweet and sour dishes.

Award Winning Featherstone Winery’s Rose

Exciting news! In a couple weeks, April 17 and 18 at the EY Centre (by the Ottawa airport), the Eat Drink Spring wine festival is back. Check it out as it’s a blast, and a great opportunity to taste some terrific wines and get some ideas for wines to enjoy this spring and summer! Eat Drink Spring wine fest – April 17 & 18 EY Centre

 And, the California Wine Fair is coming to Ottawa, Friday April 10th, at the Westin. Although there will be some rosé wines there, it will be filled mostly with delicious red, white, and sparkling Californian wines which are some of the finest you can get your hands on! California Wine Fair – Ottawa April 10

Both are must attend events! Hope to see you there.

Matt Steeves is a certified sommelier, wine writer, & Director with the National Capital Sommelier Guild – follow Matt on Twitter @Quercusvino or www.quercusvino.ca