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When was the last time you tried Mateus rosé? The popular coral pink, fruity-flavoured wine from Portugal was launched in the 1940s and helped introduce many North Americans to wine appreciation. Bottled in a distinctive flask shaped bottle, which reportedly became a convenient candleholder when empty, you could say Mateus inspired the original rosé revolution.
Mateus continues to be one of the world’s largest brands, with reported sales of 20 million bottles in 120 markets in 2019. Ontario consumers took home 245,000 of those bottles from LCBO outlets, which might surprise connoisseurs and collectors who believed Mateus fell out of fashion with mixed tapes and acid wash jeans.
While the current fashion for rosé is pale pink and refreshingly dry, Mateus is unapologetically darker in colour and sweeter in flavour, which is balanced by some subtle effervescence. While it’s not as complex or elegant as many premium rosés on the market, its light and refreshing style’s appeal extends beyond being awash in nostalgia. Like the other wines and spirits recommended this week, it has real merit as a sunny day sipping wine to enjoy over the long weekend or warm days ahead.
Bowmore 15-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky (Scotland), $99.85
Located in the middle of Islay, Bowmore was established in 1779 as a farming distillery and remains one of the few that has its own malting floor, which gives them total control of production. The 15-year remains the best introduction to the style of this medium-bodied whisky, which offers intense dried fruit, along with earthy and smoky notes. There’s a peppery edge that adds pleasing depth and complexity to the deeply coloured spirit. Available in Ontario at the above price, $89.99 in British Columbia and Manitoba, various prices in Alberta, $95.99 in Saskatchewan, $96.75 in Quebec, $95.79 in New Brunswick, $101.49 in Nova Scotia.
Le Bijou de Sophie Valrose 2020 (France), $16.95
This light and enjoyable rosé comes from the Languedoc in the south of France. It’s made in an easy to appreciate, balanced style and features a silky texture with citrus and berry notes that stand out. Vegan friendly. Drink now to 2022. Available in Ontario.
Muskoka Spirits Peach & Blackcurrant (Canada), $2.95 / 473 mL
Part of a selection of vodka-based hard sparkling waters marketed by Muskoka Brewery, this peach and blackcurrant flavoured beverage is 100 calories per serving with zero grams of sugar. The peach flavour calls to mind those fuzzy peach gummy candies in a good way, without becoming too intensely sweet or cloying. A crisp finish helps to balance the fruity flavours nicely. This is sold in individual tall cans in Ontario and as one of four flavours in a mixed pack of 355-millilitre cans that sells for $9.95 in Ontario, various prices in Alberta, $13.29 in New Brunswick, $12.28 in Newfoundland.
Nude Vodka Soda Raspberry Lemon (Canada), $2.90 / 473 mL
Once of the original players in the alcoholic soda category, Nude’s name is based on the sugar-free, gluten-free and sweetener-free attribute of its spritzers. This vodka-based raspberry lemon drink offers refreshment and balanced flavours that don’t come across as candied or artificial. Available in Ontario at the above price ($2.75 until May 23), $12.99 in British Columbia for 6 x 355 ml, various prices in Alberta, $14.99 in Saskatchewan for 6 x 355 ml, $13.80 in Quebec for 6 x 355 ml, $19.49 in Newfoundland.
Portillo Pinot Noir 2020 (Argentina), $14
A new listing at the LCBO, this simple and enjoyable red wine comes from vineyards in Mendoza’s Uco Valley. Its soft and fruity character is easy to appreciate, especially when served lightly chilled. Vegan friendly. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price, $14.99 in British Columbia ($12.99 until June 5), various prices in Alberta, $15.59 in Manitoba, $14.99 in Nova Scotia.
Roche Texture Rosé 2020 (Canada), $21.90
Dry and refreshing, this rosé hails from an organic estate in Naramata, B.C. The unconventional blend is mostly zweigelt with a small addition of schonberger, an aromatic white grape variety. Its vibrant mix of juicy berry and tart currant fruit makes for a crisp and enjoyable pink wine. Drink now to 2023. Available direct through rterroir.ca.
Sogrape Mateus Rosé (Portugal), $10.80
Slightly sweet and fizzy, lower in alcohol than other rosés (11 per cent abv) and refreshing in nature, Mateus continues to be made in a fruity and easy to appreciate style. It’s widely available and offers decent value for entertaining or summer sipping. Available in Ontario at the above price, $9.99 in British Columbia and Manitoba, various prices in Alberta, $11.49 in Saskatchewan, $10 in Quebec, $12.29 in New Brunswick, $12.99 in Nova Scotia, $13.59 in Prince Edward Island, $13.83 in Newfoundland.
Roku Gin (Japan), $49.95
Produced by Suntory, which has been making gin in Japan since 1936, Roku takes the Japanese name for the number six to refer to the distinctive blend of native botanicals employed – including cherry blossom and sencha tea, alongside traditional ones such as juniper – to produce this smooth and oily textured spirit. The fragrance and flavour are interesting and enjoyable, which makes this best served neat or as a martini. Available in Ontario at the above price, $44.99 in British Columbia and Manitoba, various prices in Alberta, $46.99 in Saskatchewan, $49.75 in Quebec, $52.30 in New Brunswick, $49.98 in Nova Scotia.
Royalmount Gin (Canada), $49.95
Produced at Montreal’s 1769 Distillery, Royalmount Gin offers intense aromas and flavours of cucumber and citrus, with a medium-bodied oily character that’s nicely balanced by a warming peppery finish. The style lends this spirit versatility to enjoy neat, as a martini or in most gin-based cocktails. Available in Ontario at the above price, $49.50 in Quebec.
White Claw Hard Seltzer Watermelon (Canada), $2.95 / 473 mL
Considering watermelon is often a summer treat enjoyed for its light and refreshing flavour, White Claw’s version is surprisingly intense and flavourful. I suspect that speaks to the audience of the popular ready-to-drink hard seltzer brand that launched in 2016. They really want fruit flavour, which this delivers at the expense of refreshment. Available in Ontario at the above price, $13.99 for 6 x 355 ml in British Columbia, $15.99 for 6 x 355 ml in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, $14.40 for 6 x 355 ml in Quebec, $18.79 for 6 x 355 ml in New Brunswick, $18.99 for 6 x 355 ml in Nova Scotia.