Apparently, pink has been getting an image makeover. I speak of the colour, not the wine. I learned this from very long article in New York magazine, the dependable chronicler of all things hip and happening. A new shade dubbed "millennial pink" is all the rage. It's a cross between beige-y peach and the more saturated and loud pinks of Pepto Bismol, cotton candy and plastic flamingos – a softer, unplugged hue compared with the electric pinks of yore. And, as New York magazine notes, it comes across as genderless.
Remember Ivanka Trump's clingy sheath dress at the 2016 Republican National Convention? It was millennial. Perhaps you saw Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel; the hotel's exterior paint colour, on the upper half specifically, captures the shade perfectly. Or you may have seen it on the walls or chairs of fancy restaurants, in department stores (by way of Le Creuset's new Oasis bakeware collection) or on fashion runways. Rapper Drake posted a photo on Instagram of himself staring a tough-guy stare in a soft, peachy-pink Stone Island puffer coat, sparking a rush to the brand.
Many French-wine aficionados have long gone ga-ga for the more muted side of pink. We think of the shade as Provencal rosé, as in classic dry wines from France's Mediterranean shore. It's about as millennial as you can get in the beverage world without adding artificial dye. The wines of this colour tend to stand in contrast, flavour-wise as well as visually, to the saturated, sometimes vaguely sweet, confected cherry-pink drinks that helped fuel the global rosé explosion of recent years.
Now, in wine as in design, peachy-pink is unquestionably the "it" shade. "People equate pale colour with dryness, with a serious style of rosé to be revered," says Sara d'Amato, president of the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers as well as a consultant and a principal critic with WineAlign. "Whether they really like those dry styles or not, there certainly is a trend in that direction." D'Amato adds that, where there might have been a cause to feel self-conscious drinking a neon cherry-pink wine (with its down-market, sweet-Kool-Aid association), more consumers today feel "it's okay that I'm drinking rosé so long as it is a pale style." She cites a few fine examples of high-end Niagara wines that capture the movement, most notably the barely stained Rosé Moira and Vivant Rosé from Malivoire.
Most, if not all, the wines below veer optically toward the lighter side, especially the famous Whispering Angel, which could almost pass for a pinot gris. They're not all bone-dry, though; a couple, as noted, toy with the off-dry spectrum. But I'm pretty sure none will require a Pepto Bismol chaser.
Jean-Max Roger Cuvée La Grange Dîmiere Sancerre Rosé 2016, France
SCORE: 92 PRICE: $25.95
Yes, they make rosé in the Loire Valley's white-dominated Sancerre appellation (and a trickle of red, too). This one's light salmon in colour, medium bodied and with remarkable concentration for a dry pink wine. Flavour-wise, think strawberry Fruittella, citrus and herbs. Impressively poised. Available in Ontario.
Caves d'Esclans Whispering Angel 2016, France
SCORE: 91 PRICE: $26.95
Barely stained, this is light enough in colour to pass for a pinot gris. Delicate yet silky, with whispers of grapefruit, lemon zest, Provencal herbs and flinty minerality. Elegant and very much on trend. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in Alberta, $29.99 in Manitoba. The similarly excellent 2015 is available at Vancouver's Marquis Wine Cellars for $43.39.
Hester Creek Rosé Cabernet Franc 2016, British Columbia
SCORE: 91 PRICE: $19.95
Medium cherry-pink (as in the saturated colour of Tavel wines from the southern Rhône). Substantial in body, mercifully without resorting to sweetness. The fleshy texture carries notes of raspberry, rhubarb and, more subtly, black pepper and herbs. Gets delectably silkier as it warms up, and this is one excellent rosé to drink even at a slightly higher temperature (not unlike fine Tavel). Available direct at www.hestercreek.com.
Muga Rioja Rosé 2016, Spain
SCORE: 88 PRICE: $14.95
Pale candy-pink colour. Dry but with rounded sweetness suggesting raspberry and cherry against pleasantly sour acidity. Perfect for salty cured ham such as jamon or prosciutto. Also fine for spicy grilled fish. Available in Ontario at the above price, $15.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta.
Featherstone Rosé 2015, Ontario
SCORE: 88 PRICE: $15.95
Rich, saturated-cherry colour in that old-school New World way. And this is very New World in style, with a dense texture and subtle sweetness (at 12 grams per litre of sugar – versus, say, 2 grams for many dry European rosés). The fruit spectrum's all here: cherry, apple, strawberry and rhubarb, maybe raspberry, too. Well done for the style. Available in Ontario stores and direct at www.featherstonewinery.ca.
Brancaia Rosé 2016, Italy
SCORE: 88 PRICE: $19.95
Light salmon in colour, akin to Provencal rosé. Made from merlot, it's medium bodied, dry and juicy, with red apple and jammy berries. On the soft side, acid-wise, and nicely so. Good flavour depth thanks to three months of lees contact prior to bottling. Available in Ontario.
Remy Pannier Rosé d'Anjou 2015, France
SCORE: 88 PRICE: $14.90
One of the best-selling rosé in Ontario embodies the killer formula for today's mass market. It's French (read: "classy") and is light coral pink, the colour of rosé sophistication. Yet it's off-dry, with a subtle, crowd-pleasing sweetness, which by the way, is typical of rosés from Anjou in the Loire Valley. And it's well-executed, not confected like a white zinfandel, with strawberry, herbs and citrus. It comes across like a "white" cabernet franc. Available in Ontario.
JP Azeitao Syrah Rosé 2016, Portugal
SCORE: 87 PRICE: $8.55
The colour of "millennial pink" (i.e. very pale peachy-salmon). Dry with strawberry and peach notes set against bright acidity, with a floral lift coming from 8-per-cent muscatel roxo added to the syrah. Fresh and flavourful yet unheavy, with a moderate 12-per-cent alcohol. How do you say "good bargain" in Portuguese? Uma boa pechincha! Available in Ontario.
Vina Esmeralda Rosé 2016, Spain
SCORE: 87 PRICE: $13.95
Barely stained coral pink. The shade telegraphs dryness, as in the Provencal style, but there's a silky sweetness at the core of this technically dry wine made from jammy garnacha. Light and smooth, with a creamy-strawberry essence. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in Alberta.
Radio Boka Rosé 2016, Spain
SCORE: 86 PRICE: $10.80
The blush counterpart to a highly popular red wine from Spain. Medium-pink colour. On the lighter side of medium-bodied, with flavours of strawberry, apple and orange gummies. Vaguely sweet in the middle but ultimately dry. A crowd-pleasing bargain. Available in Ontario at the above price, $13.99 in Manitoba, $14.29 in New Brunswick.
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