Even though the season has barely begun, we’re ready to call it: This is going to be the best year ever for Canadian rosé. That’s huge, given that, not so long ago, imports dominated the pink wine market. Now, thanks to wineries across the country who’ve fully embraced the rosé movement, we have plenty of great homegrown options.
More than almost any other style, pink wine is about being in the moment. Because it’s delicate and contains fewer tannins than some other wines, rosé doesn’t get any better in the cellar. With rosé, the rule is always “Drink now.” And we say, “We’re here for it,” starting with three wines from British Columbia, where a lot of winemakers were ahead of the curve when it came to pink wine.
Calling Pantone: Is light hot pink a colour? If not, it should be, given how good it looks on JoieFarm’s rosé, a crowd-pleasing, happy-making wine from the Naramata Bench region in B.C.’s Okanagan. JoieFarm helped kick-start this region’s “rosé revolution” when it began making the style in 2004 and the winery’s experience shows—this is a rich, full and almost buttery wine, with a touch of currant and a good punch of acidity to keep things exciting.
This delicious and character-rich pink manages to be a serious wine that can be paired with anything from fish dishes to pork roast and, at the same time, a whole lot of fun, thanks to its grapefruit, watermelon and bright raspberry notes. It’s crisp, dry and, frankly, a bit of a show-off, demonstrating how perfect the micro-climate of the Okanagan Valley is for high-quality rosé wines. $20.99
Grow Wild Ravishing Rosé VQA – B.C. and Ontario
We tried this super-pale, off-dry rosé and discovered a nice mix of ripe strawberries and elderflower, best suited for light vegetarian fare and dessert pairings. There are actually two slightly different versions of this wine—in Ontario, the grapes come from Niagara and in B.C., they’re grown in the Okanagan. Although we’re waiting for it to pop up at the LCBO, this budget-friendly wine is already on shelf in private liquor stores in B.C., such as Artisan Wine Shop, which has a two-for-$25 deal on right now. $16.99; Artisan Wine Shop
Made by the acclaimed Henry of Pelham winery in Niagara, Three of Hearts is exactly what you want to drink with a decadent special-occasion brunch, thanks to its balance of elegant strawberries and stone fruit. It’s made with Pinot Noir grapes but with no skin contact whatsoever, resulting in a very pale hue of lilac pink and none of the earthiness often associated with that grape. Just easy-drinking deliciousness to savour over a leisurely afternoon meal.
Light, easy-drinking and pale salmon in colour, Creekside Estate Winery’s rosé would make a great house wine—good to have on hand in case of last-minute plans. It’s perfectly dry, with subtle melon and berry notes that pairs well with the usual things that go with pink—salads, popcorn, sunshine—thanks to a short maceration time and blend of Pinot Noir balanced with Pinot Gris.
If buying directly from the website, look around, since Creekside has a lot going on. Right now, there are Mother’s Day pink wine package deals and also a “Wine-demic Pack” that includes two bottles of the winery’s “Spousal Tolerance Rosé.” $15.95, LCBO 48819; also available at the winery
Given its slightly cloudy magenta colour, there was considerable debate as to whether or not Breakfast in the Vineyard really qualified as a “rosé” per se. The thing is, it’s hard to say what this wine is, precisely, since it’s too purple to be called pink, but way too light-tasting for a red. That’s not entirely out of character for a wine from Prince Edward County’s Traynor Family Vineyard, a low-intervention winery known for pushing boundaries. It’s affectionately called a “glou glou” wine (a.k.a. glug glug), because it’s the kind of juicy wine you, well, glug back. It’s bright, lemony and has a bit of a sweet-tart profile. Acid junkies, take note—this one’s got your number. $20, Traynor Family Vineyard
This deep coral-coloured blend has a beautiful aroma of sweet, ripe watermelon, which carries through to the palate and lingers. Although still dry, a touch of honey and pronounced fruit make it ideal for drinking with cheese boards stacked with soft cheese and/or really good prosciutto. $19.75, Stratus Wines. If feeling philanthropic, buy it as part of the Stratus “Save Hospitality” six pack for $150.
Wildass Rosé VQA
It took a while for canned wine to gain cred, but now that it has some, we love that we’re starting to see home-grown canned pink at the LCBO and elsewhere. Made by Stratus in Niagara, this is similar to the winery’s Tollgate wine, but a little more mellow. Highly suitable for picnics and dockside drinking.
$6.95, LCBO 18164
2020 Domaine du Ridge Champs de Florence
Although still under the radar, Quebec wineries are starting to generate a lot of excitement, particularly in the rosé space. While you might expect pale pinks in the style of a classic French rosé, many are bucking the trend and producing something arguably more interesting, like the rhubarb-coloured Champs de Florence made at the utterly charming Domaine du Ridge winery, which is southeast of Montreal close to the border. It drinks like a really gorgeous light red, with a subtle touch of sweet fruit—perfect for celebrating spring. $15.05, SAQ 741702
Made from Cabernet Franc in the Annapolis Valley, this beautiful light pink wine tastes like fresh peaches with a tiny drizzle of honey, all livened up with a dash of sea salt. Hard to imagine a better companion to a thin-crust Margherita pizza or a bocconcini salad than this bright, dry and juicy number. $24.95, Benjamin Bridge
From the label to the finish, everything about this wine is pretty. Its ballerina-shoe pink colour, its round and full body, its strawberries-and-cream flavour profile and crisp finish, all make L&W’s 2019 rosé a wine that brings you back in for a second sip. And then a third. It’s tempting to savour this wine all on its own but the wines from Annapolis Valley are famously food-friendly thanks to high levels of acidity. This rosé is no exception and makes an especially brilliant companion to seafood appetizers. $20.87, Lightfoot & Wolfville
Bonus bottles: Nova Scotia Pink Bubbles
Just in case you’re looking for pink fizz to celebrate with, both these Nova Scotia wineries make exquisite sparkling rosé. Lightfoot & Wolfville’s 2019 Bubbly Rosé ($24.35) is a great balance of stone fruit and berries with a dash of flowers.
And, if you have room for a little special occasion splurge, Benjamin Bridge Brut NV Rosé ($27.95) is almost ethereally light and soft, with just a hint lime peel on the finish—perfect for pairing with smoked fish. Strictly speaking, it doesn’t fit into the under $25 parameters, but it’s a bargain compared with French champagne and, in our books, every bit as good.