Rosé Revolution – The Ultimate BC Rosé Guide: 40 Wines Reviewed

Perhaps better Rosé Evolution? At least here in BC, where we have collectively embraced the joy of dry, refreshing rosés after far too long in the throes of sweet, saccharine pink wine. Rosé wine, especially from the heartland of Provence, has long been a key sommelier go-to. Of course, we’re a land of savvy wine drinkers, but the impetus to drink pink is due in large part to BCLDB European Portfolio Manager, Barb Philip MW. Barb’s insight (and love) for Provencal Rosés has resulted in steady and healthy growth of the category in the province over the past few years. We’re not alone in our amour for Rosé; across Canada, volume sales of rosé have almost doubled from 2004 to 2013 (via the Association of Canadian Distillers), and is projected to rise by 7% in the next two years. In BC alone, the Provence Rosé category has grown by a whopping 44.5% over the past 12 months. Rosé Revolution!

It’s no small surprise that France is the world leader in the production of rosé. Provence represents 40% of the French production of all rosé AOP and 5% of the world production of rosé wines. Provence is also the only region in the world that specializes in rosé, with almost 90% of total wine production.

BC winemakers have taken notice, and followed in trend. Of the dozens of BC rosés I’ve tried this spring, the majority are dry or very nearly so, with off-dry examples deftly balanced out with a rip of acidity. An arcing rainbow of hues aside, the versatility of these wines is a huge part of their appeal. Rosés combine the best of both wine worlds: the freshness, acidity and best food-friendliness of white wines, with the structure, berry fruit, tannins and best food-friendliness of red wines. I drink rosés year round, with everything from charcuterie and cheese to spot prawns and mussels, from poultry through pork and with spices from India to China to Peru and beyond.

Of course, like generally harmonizes with like, so pick up one of the below bottles of BC rosé and pair with your local summer solstice feasting.

Here are brief notes on the BC rosés I’ve sampled this spring, along with details where I could source them.

[10% reflects the alcohol content, and 10g/l RS indicates the grams per litre of residual sugar. Both figures can be useful tools in characterizing a wine.]



50th Parallel Estate Pinot Noir Rosé 201350thParallel2013Rose_Notes

Okanagan Valley.  $18.  13%  4.5g/l RS
Winemaker Grant Stanley demonstrates his pinot noir prowess in this lovely rosé. Medium salmon in hue, with ripe strawberries, Okanagan cherries, pink grapefruit, apricot blossom, juicy pear weight and lovely spice on the dry finish. 88 points.


8th Generation Vineyard Pinot Meunier Rosé 2013

Okanagan Valley.  $20.  12.5%  17 g/l RS
Candy floss pink, with smoked berries, baked plum, stewed rhubarb and baking spices. Mid-sweet. 85 points.


Arrowleaf Cellars Winery First Crush Rosé 2012arrowleaffirstcrush

Okanagan Valley.  $14.95. +596726
This delicate pink hued rose is fantastic value. Pinot noir and zweigelt yield fresh and bright wild strawberries, raspberry seeds, dried rose petals and earthy desert herbs, with a barely there kiss of summer berry sweetness to round out. 89 points.


Backyard Vineyards Rosé 2013

Fraser Valley.
Deep pink hue, with a candied pear drop nose, but quite lean and astringent on the palate. 84 points.


Bartier Scholefield Rosé 2011BS-Rose-nv1

Okanagan Valley. $19  +561589  11.7%  5.3 g/l RS
A 2011 current release rosé? Not a typo – the folks at Okanagan Crush Pad (also behind the Haywire brand) create wines to age. Winemaker Michael Bartier & co. feel that their wines gain complexity from age, even typically-ready-to-drink pink. This wine is 100% gamay, sourced from Oliver’s Secrest Mountain Vineyard. Smoked stone, wild raspberry and spicy red currants end with a sage leaf and herbed bramble note. 89 points.


Bench 1775 Winery Glow 2013

Okanagan Valley.  $19.90  +230789  13.5%
Lovely orange kissed pink hue, with candied strawberry, zesty rhubarb and pear on the nose, and a generous fruit salad of raspberry, strawberry and melon on the palate. Light riff of bitter raspberry seed spice on the finish. 87 points.


Blue Grouse Vineyards & Winery Quill Rosé 2012blue grouse quill-rose

Vancouver Island.  $16.  +38927  12.5%  6 g/l RS
From grapes grown on Vancouver Island comes this newcomer, medium pink rosé. A blend of pinot gris, pinot noir, gamay and muscat results in a cider apple and blossom note, with light rhubarb and cranberry flavours and slight prickle to the finish. 85 points.


It’s no small surprise that France is the world leader in the production of rosé… BC winemakers have taken notice, and followed in trend.


C. C. Jentsch Cellars The Dance 2013ccjentsch.thedance

Okanagan Valley.  $17.90  13.9%  0.1 g/l RS
Small portions of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot were bled off to create this deep and full pink coloured rosé. Assertive and heady, with smoked strawberry, black plum, stone and spice notes. Bold and gutsy and proud of it. 87 points.


CedarCreek Estate Winery Rosé 2013

Okanagan Valley.  $18  +157412  13%  9.1 g/l RS
Wild ferment pinot noir fermented long and cool in stainless steel preserves the alluring delicate fruit and hue. Savoury wild strawberries on the nose, with raspberry blossoms, spice, light earth and a touch of herbed cracker on the silky, concentrated, pure fruited palate. Off dry with persistent spice lingering on the finish. 89 points.


Clos du Soleil Rosé  2013

Similkameen Valley.  $19.90  +88468
Made from 17 year old Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from the southern Okanagan, this deep watermelon pink wine stands out in a lineup. Bold summer sweetened berries and candy floss aromas lead to a juicy and bright cranberry and strawberry palate, with cherry branch and vanilla bean/raspberry jam on the finish. 87 points.


Columbia Gardens Vineyard & Winery Station Road Rosé 2011columbiagardens.rose

Trail. $14.87
Organic marechal foch grapes turn into this dry, light orange/pink hued rosé, with stoney and smoked orange peel, bing cherry and light mandarine notes. Lean and crisp. 85 points.


DeVine Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir Rosé  2013

Saanich Peninsula. $16.99
From the picturesque mountainside Home Vineyard. Ripe strawberries and cream, potpourri and cinnamon, cherry blossoms and zippy rose thorns. Densely fruited and finishing a touch sweet. 86 points.


DeVine Vineyards Foch Rosé 2013

Vancouver Island. $17.99
Sourced from the Cowichan Valley, this light plum coloured rosé has big spice and youthful wild blackberries, with a mustard seed herbal note. Blackberries, dark plum and spice close out this bold wine. 85 points.


Enrico Winery & Vineyards Red Dragon 2012

Cowichan Valley.  $14.
100% pinot noir from Enrico’s estate vineyards. Orange pink hue, with delicate strawberry and mandarin notes, finishing with a touch of salty parmesan cheese and a light spritz. 85 points.


Fort Berens Estate Winery Pinot Noir Rosé  2013

Lillooet. $18. +295188  13.5%   0.5 g/l RS
From the eastern outbacks of Lillooet (outback for wine regions, mind) comes this bold and bright, bone dry, pinot noir rosé. Deep coral in hue, the wine opens with candied strawberry and pressed raspberry notes, and moves into punchy flavours of raspberry jellies, pink grapefruit and crisp apple. 86 points.


Gold Hill Winery Rosé 2013

Okanagan Valley. $18.90
Though the label says “Rosé”, this dark hued claret-styled wine is much more in the light red wine camp. Osoyoos’ desert heat grows the cabernet franc to create this meaty, cassis-decked wine with ample black cherry, thorns and cracked pepper. 85 points.


Haywire Gamay Noir Rosé 2011Haywire-GamayNoir-rose

Okanagan Valley. $19.90  +687103  12%  2.3 g/l RS

The folks at Okanagan Crush Pad believe that roses can age (see Bartier Scholefield example above) and this current release 2011 demonstrates their viewpoint. 100% gamay from Secrest Mountain Vineyard in Oliver, this orange pink hued has a salty mineral nose leading into a generous palate of raspberry, rhubarb, juicy watermelon, pear skin and fine, stony spice on the exit. Lovely complete mouthfeel and freshness. 89 points.


Hester Creek Estate Winery Rosé Cabernet Franc 2013

Okanagan Valley. $19.95  +776500  13.8%  12 g/l RS
A deep magenta/rose hue leads to tart cranberry sauce and stewed rhubarb notes. Assertive berry flavours, cherry cough syrup, sweet candy floss and a big, spicy pepper finish. 85 points.


Hidden Chapel Winery Blushing Bride 2013Hidden Chapel Blushing-Bridejpg

Okanagan Valley. $19.90.  13.5%
A mixed grab bag of grapes here – cabernet sauvignon, riesling, malbec and syrah – come together in this deep pink hued rose. A malty raspberry nose leads to a mid-sweet palate of lime gummies and juicy blackberry. 85 points.


Hillside Cellars Winery Rosé 2013Hillside2013-Rose

Okanagan Valley. $17.38  +330704  13%
Merlot, malbec and cabernet franc turn into deep pink, with vibrant strawberries, berry gummies and juicy cherry. Mouthwatering and easy to like, with a touch of ripe sweetness on the finish. 88 points.


House of Rose Vineyards Rosé 2013

Okanagan Valley. $16.90
100% lemberger grapes make up this dark pink rosé, with early violets, floral currants, perfumed berries and a peppery, leafy edge. Off-dry and juicy. 86 points.


JoieFarm ReThink Pink! Rosé  2013

Okanagan Valley.  $20.90. +426551  12.5%  10 g/l RS
Every year the blend shifts, and this year the white grapes have been dropped in favour of pinot noir and gamay, harvested from Kelowna, Skaha Bluff, Naramata, Summerland and Kelowna.  This vintage is a deep blush pink hue, with a familiar sweetness, as is hallmark Joie style. Sweet pear nectar and strawberry jam on the nose leads to a ripe, round and concentrated palate of apple blossom, wild raspberry, sage, and Okanagan cherries on a spicy, lingering finish. 88 points.


Little Farm Winery Blind Creek Vineyard Rosé 2013littlefarmrose

Similkameen Valley.  $24.90. +796979   13%
Best BC wine I’ve tasted this year? Absolutely a contender. I kept this wine in my fridge for a few days, and it kept getting better and better. It was delicious when chilled, and when the glass warmed up. A winner with food, and without. Stood out when blind tasted. Every which way, this wine shone just a rosé should: pure, bright, characterful and vibrant. This single vineyard, 100% cabernet franc beauty should be your go-to pink this year (if you can find it – only a scant 170 cases). A very pale peach hue, this opens with wild strawberry, subtle spice and tangerine aromas. The bone dry palate teems with fragrant cherries, light lees, dried sage and dusty, stony spice. Impressive depth of flavour for such a light wine. 91 points.


Mission Hill Family Estate Five Vineyards Rosé  2013MissionHill5V_Rose

Okanagan Valley. $15.99.  +6011161  13.5%
With a whiff of sweetness, this budget-friendly and patio-friendly pale rose is a local favourite that appears as soon as the sunshine does. Sweet strawberry jam, candied cherries, watermelon and zesty spice, this juicy blend of merlot, pinot noir and cabernet franc is from vineyards in Kelowna, Oliver, Osoyoos and Naramata. 86 points.


Mistaken Identity Vineyards Pinot Rosé 2013Mistaken-Identity-Rose

Salt Spring Island. $17.90
Off-dry, this is a Wine Islands blend of pinot noir, leon millot and zweigelt. The delicate pink shows a slight spritz, along with bread dough, herbal notes, meadow flowers, grass, green raspberry and apple. 85 points.


Montakarn Estate Winery Georgina Rosé 2013

Okanagan Valley. $16.90
A southern Okanagan blend of malbec, nebbiolo and sangiovese (that’s right), this pours a delicate pink and entices with notes of sugared strawberries and ripe pear before ending with floral roses. There is a lean edge throughout, especially evident on the finish. 86 points.


Quails’ Gate Winery Rosé  2013quailsgaterose

Okanagan Valley. $15.99.  +170316  13%
Always a great value go-to rose every year, this vintage surpasses all in memory as the best yet. A blend of gamay, pinot noir and pinot gris transform into fresh wild strawberries, mouth watering upon first whiff and followed up by raspberry blossoms. The beauty pale pink hue reflects what’s in the glass: juicy watermelon, strawberries, baked rhubarb and elderflower on a silky palate, finishing dry and fruity with a pretty thorny rose fragrance.  88 points.


River Stone Estate Winery Malbec Rosé 2013

Okanagan Valley. $20.  13.2%
Deeply pink hued, there is ample pressed strawberries, rhubarb, juicy plum, cranberry, raspberry and earthy notes here, with hints of strawberry and lime blossoms on the nose and finish. Bright acidity and slight tannins. 87 points.


Road 13 Honest John’s Rosé 2013

Okanagan Valley.  $16.99  +357327  14.1%
This is a well built, creamy rosé that is fresh and lively enough to enjoy soundly on its own, but will stand up to grilled salmon or chicken burgers easily. This vintage of Honest John’s Rosé is a swirling blend of gamay, merlot, viognier, syrah, merlot, roussanne and marsanne – quite a complex personality of flavours and profiles in the glass. Assertive juicy strawberry and herb kissed orchard fruit throughout, with pomegranate acidity, cranberry spiciness, pear richness, bright cherry and a medium bodied, round palate ending in a fresh, strawberry blossom and pomelo peel finish. 88 points.


Rocky Creek Winery Robin’s Rosé 2013rockycreekrobin

Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island.
Deep pink in tone, this pinot noir rose has big overripe pear, raspberries, juicy peaches on the nose, and a rooty, rhubarb drying peach pit note on the palate. 84 points.


Sea Star Estate Farm & Vineyards Blanc de Noir 2013

Pender Island.
“Blanc de Noir” translates as white from red, so already this delicate pink wine is a bit of a mystery before the screw is cracked (think Rose de Noir). Abundant perfumed pear, kiwi and gooseberries from the whole cluster pressed pinot noir lead to more flowers on the palate – roses and raspberry blossoms. A lovely light and elegant track for this brand new winery. 87 points.


SpierHead Pinot Noir Rosé 2013

Kelowna. $19.90  +606715
Land’s End Vineyard up in south east Kelowna is where the pinot noir grapes were sourced for this deep crimson hued rosé. Lovely violet florals open to savoury stone, cured meats, cherry and earth notes. Medium bodied, with a round, generous mouthfeel and a farewell note of apple blossoms. 88 points.


Stag’s Hollow Syrah Grenache Rosé 2013stags hollow rose

Okanagan Valley.  $22  14%  5 g/l RS
Could grenache be the next darling grape of the Okanagan? In the hands of Stag’s Hollow Winery winemaker Dwight Sick, it would seem so. From Hearle Vineyard on Osoyoos’ east bench, this deep pink hued delight opens with salted strawberry, ripe plum and pink flowers, before moving into a savoury cranberry, wild raspberry, tangerine zest and herbal pepper on the creamy palate. Assertive and confident, this concentrated rose is still nimble and bright on its feet. Impressive and confidence boosting for grenache’s future here. 89 points.


Sunnybrae Vineyard & Winery Rosé 2012

Deep, electric pink, with zest lime and lemon notes, sweet candied berries, rhubarb pie and a zesty orange finish. Heavier style. 84 points.


TH Wines Rosé 2013

Okanagan Valley.  $22.  14%
Every single time I’ve come up across from this wine I take special notice. Or rather, my palate does. There’s something about Tyler Harlton’s rose and its pale peach orange hue, orange blossom, kiwi and pear skin aromas, and fresh, textured wild strawberries, juicy raspberries, citrus and sage scented finish that I gravitate (and salivate!) towards. Only 118 cases of this merlot rosé were made, so if you’re lucky to cross paths with one, drink it.  90 points.


Thornhaven Estate Winery Rosé 2013

Okanagan Valley.  $15.90  13.2%  21.1 g/l RS
Pinot noir and merlot have transformed into this deeper pink rosé, with clipped flowers, violet petals and perfumed berries. Mid-sweet. 86 points.


Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series 2Bench Rosé  2013TinhornOS2BenchRose4

Okanagan Valley. $22.99.   + 176750   14.1%
100% cabernet franc from Diamondback Vineyard on the Black Sage Bench, this rosy peach hued wine presents lean and dry, with strawberry kool-aid aromas, stone, peach, pear skin, stewed rhubarb and tart cranberry acidity. 87 points.


Unsworth Vineyards & Winery Rosé 2013

Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island. $17.90 +651794  11.8%
From the Wine Island’s current shining light comes this fresh, dry, marine influenced pinot noir rosé. Peachy/orange in hue, with generous tangerine blossoms, wild strawberry and herbal leaf, with a lean, reigned in palate of rhubarb, young raspberries, strawberries and mineral. Bright and unpretentious. 89 points.


Volcanic Hills Estate Winery Rosé 2012volcanic hills

Okanagan Valley. $17.  +350314   13.2%  14.8 RS
Medium pink toned, with juicy wild strawberries in abundance across the nose and palate. Impressive purity of fruit in this gamay and pinot noir blend : strawberries, wild raspberries, Rainier cherries and ripe pink grapefruit acidity, in a silky, pretty, off-dry package. 88 points. 

Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

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