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waters on wine

Vineyards in the Veneto belonging to the Bottega family are used to produce a range of grappas, liqeurs and wines, including a new range of Prosecco rosés.Handout

Wine makers in northern Italy have been producing rosé sparkling wines for decades, but consumers have only recently been able to buy bottles of Prosecco rosé thanks to a change in the winemaking laws in 2020, which allows vintners in the designated appellation to blend glera, the traditional grape for making Prosecco, with a small amount of pinot noir to create pink bubbly.

Considering sales of rosé continue to surge around the world and the popularity of Prosecco is booming in most markets, the marketing move makes a lot of sense. Consumers love the fresh and fruity character of both styles of wine on their own, so why not produce a pink Prosecco that could prove to be even more attractive to wine lovers?

My first taste of Prosecco’s new model comes from Bottega, a family winery and distillery that traces its roots back to 1635. The wine operation was added in 1992, with the launch of the Il Vino dei Poeti Prosecco brand. Other sparkling and still wines have been added to the portfolio over the years, including four new Prosecco rosé products.

It’s perhaps not surprising that pink Prosecco tastes much like traditional Prosecco, given that producers are able to use a maximum of 15-per-cent pinot noir in their blend. The white peach, citrus and blossom notes of that grape dominate the aromas and flavours of Bottega’s Vino Dei Poeti Brut Rosé. Pinot noir’s main role seems to be adding a pinkish hue to the sparkling wine. Its subtle berry character lingers in the background.

The new crowd-pleasing sparkling wine is recommended alongside a mix of red, white and pink wine styles that offer good value for the price (under $20 a bottle in most markets across the country). These are good candidates to have on hand for fall get-togethers or looking ahead to the holidays.

Bodega Piedra Negra Pinot Grigio 2020 (Argentina), $15

Rating:88 /100

Made by the Lurton family’s operation in Argentina, this organic white wine shows a riper and richer style of pinot grigio. There’s a creamy texture and abundant fruit, with a crisp and refreshing finish that makes the style enjoyable on its own or at the dinner table. Available in Ontario at the above price, $15.55 in Quebec, $17.99 in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, $16.97 in Nova Scotia, $16.47 in Prince Edward Island, $17.98 in Newfoundland.

Bottega Vino Dei Poeti Brut Rosé (Italy), $14.95

Rating:88 /100

Prosecco producers in northern Italy were able to add rosés to their portfolio this year. A stylish blend of glera and pinot noir, this fresh and fruity example from Bottega shows the crowd-pleasing nature of Prosecco with a vibrant pink hue and suggestion of berry flavours alongside expected peach and citrus notes. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price, $19.99 in British Columbia, $22.99 in Prince Edward Island.

Folklore Chardonnay 2019 (Australia), $17.95

Rating:88 /100

Folklore is one of the labels produced by winemaker Larry Cherubino in Western Australia. A blend of chardonnay from Margaret River and Frankland River, this is a rich and refreshing white. There’s nice complexity and character here, with a mouthwatering finish. Drink now to 2026. Available in Ontario.

La Linda Private Selection Old Vines Malbec 2019 (Argentina), $16

Rating:88 /100

Produced by Luigi Bosca at its estate in Mendoza, this malbec shows bold fruit flavours with a savoury edge that adds interest. A solid barbecue red. Drink now to 2023. Available in Ontario at the above price, $19.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta.

La Mascota Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (Argentina), $15.95

Rating:90 /100

This dry and expressive red wine really captures the fragrance and character of the cabernet grape. The mix of plum, berry and herbal aromas, which are nicely accented by cedar and spice notes, is really appealing. Drink now to 2027. Available in Ontario at the above price ($13.95 until Sept. 12), $17.99 in British Columbia and Nova Scotia, various prices in Alberta, $16.10 in Quebec.

La Vieille Ferme Rosé Ventoux 2020 (France), $12.45

Rating:87 /100

Made by the Perrin family in the Ventoux village of the Rhône Valley, this crisp and refreshing rosé is a consistently pleasant style year after year. The whole Vieille Ferme range made in the south of France is solid, especially for the price. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price, $12.99 in British Columbia and Manitoba, various prices in Alberta, $14.99 in Saskatchewan, $13.25 in Quebec, $14.99 in New Brunswick, $15.99 in Prince Edward Island.

Mare Di Sirena Pinot Grigio 2020 (Italy), $8.90

Rating:87 /100

Toronto wine agent Alex Patinos is the mastermind behind this value-price white. Similar to his efforts with the popular Toro Bravo label, he sought out a winery to produce a wine that met his style, quality and price parameters. The result is this bright and fruity white that’s nicely balanced by a refreshing finish. Its style makes for a solid everyday house white. Drink now. Available in Ontario.

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet 2019 (Australia), $19.95

Rating:90 /100

Here’s a terrific example of the quintessential Australian blend of shiraz (syrah) and cabernet from one of the country’s leading producers. It is a rich and ripe red wine, with nicely integrated fruit and spice notes that carry through to a lingering finish. Made in the classic Penfolds house style, this is ready to drink now with potential to age. Drink now to 2026. Available in Ontario at the above price, $19.49 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $17.99 in Manitoba, $17.10 in Quebec, $23.99 in New Brunswick, $24.99 in Nova Scotia.

Santa Julia Reserva Malbec 2019 (Argentina), $13.95

Rating:88 /100

This rich and flavourful malbec always impresses. Made in a full-bodied style with a smooth texture, this offers lots of blueberry and blackberry fruit and chocolate notes, with a refreshing finish. Drink now to 2023. Available in Ontario at the above price, $17.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $19.99 in Saskatchewan, $15.99 in Manitoba, $20.99 in Newfoundland.

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