Buyer’s Guide to Vintages May 11th Release

A Toast to Mothers, Rosé Misconceptions, and Best May Values

By Sara d’Amato with notes from John Szabo

A toast to all the mothers and grandmothers who were deservedly celebrated in style this past weekend. As a mother of three incredible boys, I’m glad that they have the luxury of taking for granted all the love and care given them. Admittedly self-serving, it goes without saying that mothers deserve to be celebrated more than one day a year and so here are some thoughts on how to honour her all year round. Speaking from experience, a small act of kindness goes a long way – a tiny act of acknowledgement, a simple thanks and a hug.

Caregiving roles are still deeply gendered in Canada, with women providing the bulk of unpaid care to children and older adults. Yet, there are no two moms alike and even if you think that you’re becoming a copy of your own, our interests and preferences are unique. Moms give up so much of themselves for their children that sometimes, their needs and personalities get overwhelmed by their caring. So prescribed Mother’s Day gifts should be a thing of the past. Moms really want to be recognized for the person they are behind the veil of “caregiver.” True appreciation is acknowledgement of the person we are. Let your mom’s likes and interests guide you to the most thoughtful acts and gifts going forward. 

Not all of us appreciate flowers, rosé wine and perfume, but most of us love spending time with our kids, above all else. When they get older, I hope to share a glass of wine with my own and discover their preferences. For those of you who are in that position to share a glass with their moms right now, we have some recommendations below from this most recent Vintages release that are as diverse as moms can be. John and I were flying solo this week as the rest of the WineAlign team was off either studying in New York, discovering extreme viticulture zones in South America or at Tuscan anteprimas. We look forward to tasting with them again very soon.

Le Nuancier des Vins Rosés

The Rosé Misconception

Rosé is just a colour. Despite an abstract, outdated association between the colour pink and girls, there is no reason why women (or mothers) need be typecast into a rosé drinking role. Yet I continue to hear wine producers, addressing female wine professionals, even as recently as last year, suggesting that their sweet, low-alcohol, simple rosé, was intended for women. Rosé is just a colour. That colour has no effect on its level of sweetness, complexity, or degree of alcohol. Within the category of rosé, just like red or white, there are styles that may be sweeter than others (Rosé d’Anjou from the Loire Valley, white zinfandel from California), some that are more complex than others (Tavel from the Rhône Valley, the oak-aged Le Garrus by Sacha Lichine, or vintage rosé Champagne). Rosé wine offers a range of alcohol levels and prices; options for still or fizz; and colour depth ranging from light to dark. There is absolutely no way to typecast women into rosé drinkers by colour alone. Women don’t all like sweet wines, nor do they prefer low alcohol because of tolerance or guidelines. There are no studies proving that the whole of the female gender prefers sweet wine over dry. If the “brosé” movement is any indication, North American men are increasingly adopting the style as their own, just as they do in Europe.

But rosé isn’t just one colour. There are ranges of colour and this leads into rosé misconception number two: The colour of the wine determines its level of sweetness and seriousness. The Centre de Recherche du Rosé in Provence, a research institute funded in part by the interprofessional association of Provence, (CIVP) has assembled a “nuancier” or colour chart (below), of more than 130 shades of rosé found in Provence alone. Rosés can be many colours, and none of them determine the level of sweetness or complexity of a wine. The simplest rosés, white zinfandels, are most often a medium pink colour and are undoubtedly off-dry and low in alcohol. Yet many dry rosés based on tempranillo and garnacha from north-central Spain are a similar colour. Deeply coloured rosés from the rosé-only appellation of Tavel in the southern Rhône, as well as those from the Côtes du Rhône, Irouleguy and Bordeaux are certainly not sweet. All this to say, don’t shy away from the darker shades of rosé as there are some terrific values to be discovered.

Le Nuancier des Vins Rosés

We’ve come to associate pale-coloured rosés as dry and sophisticated largely due to the very successful marketing campaigns of the often pale-hued rosés in export from Provence. The proliferation of copy-cat pale rosés made by “direct press” from around the globe is another indicator of that success. Direct press refers to the pressing the grapes immediately, allowing the juice to encounter the skins only briefly in the press itself. Yet it is not easy to make a pale as onion-skin rosé with character and flavour. Why? Red grapes used to make rosé are harvested on the early side to preserve freshness. In doing so, the full-flavoured ripe phenolic maturity is muted resulting in the use of tasting-creating techniques such as stabulation, a process in which juice remains in contact with sediment (or lees) prior to fermentation at cold temperatures. Pale rosés may still be fashionable, but it may be easier to produce a characterful wine with longer maceration time. Furthermore, it is not accurate to assume the saignée method (the bleeding of the pink juice from red skins) is the only way to produce a high-quality rosé. Rosé Champagne may be made by black grapes only but often includes white varieties; while Rhône rosés, especially those from the cru of Tavel, employ a mix as well.

Finally, don’t limit yourself to drinking rosés in the summer. You’ll see below that we’ve chosen many examples of rosés that work just as well poolside as they do at a Thanksgiving dinner. And there are many more rosés out there! The team at WineAlign has tasted the first rosés of the season in market and are pleased to offer a case available for only the next week. We’re calling this case Best in Show, as the wines for the team tasting were assembled as a result of Toronto’s first ever Rosé Symposium that took place at Verity in Toronto in April. I was fortunate to have been a part of its organization along with my colleague, Chantal Fry, a professional figure skater, rosé importer and part-time Marseillaise. The event included discussion panels entitled Impact on Climate Change, Evolving Rosé Style, The Colour Debate, and Locally Grown VQA Rosé. New rosés on the market, both local and international, were made available for tasting by consumers and trade. We hope to offer this experience as an annual event so stay tuned! In the meantime, get your rosé on here.

Price: $409 + shipping (delivery in early June)

Buyer’s Guide May 11: Rosés

Graham Beck Méthode Cap Classique Brut Pinot Noir/Chardonnay Rosé Sparkling, Western Cape,
South Africa, $22.95, Vinexx
John Szabo – Classic, traditional method toasty complexity on offer here from stalwart Graham Beck, one of the best bottling in recent memory. I like the dry, crisp palate, and especially the complexity and balance on offer.

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Sara d’Amato

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