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When was the last time you’ve heard about a rosé that scored a perfect 100-point rating? Outside of a few top pink Champagnes, such as ones produced by Dom Pérignon in 2002 and Louis Roederer Cristal in 2008, I cannot think of many other rosés that have made the grade. Even the best expressions of still rosé, say Domaine Tempier from Bandol, Domaine Ott from Provence or Château de Trinquevedel from Tavel, fall short.
Despite soaring sales and an enviable social media presence thanks to hashtags like #roséallday and #drinkpink, rosé seems unable to trade its popularity for prestige with critics or consumers. It’s fashionable, glamourous even, but seldom viewed as being great.
The rosé revolution successfully broke pink wine out of its rut of being typecast as frivolous and, in some circles, only for women. But it failed to fully bring it the prominence routinely afforded to chardonnays, cabernets or pinot noirs.
For many wine lovers, it’s still a seasonal dalliance. Their taste for rosé gets put away each year with the lawn furniture.
As for critics, whether or not they admit to being prejudiced, they judge rosé as being inferior due to its colour. How else can one explain the glass ceiling of 93 to 95 points for pink wines especially considering how some domestic and international writers routinely dole out those sorts of superior scores to fairly average red and white wines?
It’s not for lack of effort from some rosé producers around the world. While some continue to see it as an afterthought, consigning grapes that wouldn’t properly ripen due to weather or being overcropped to commercial pink products, a pursuit of excellence is driving many producers like Gérard Bertrand in the south of France or Sacha Lichine in Provence to raise the profile. They are taking grapes from top quality vineyards and fermenting gently pressed juice in French oak barrels to create products with polished and powerful character that promise to age like a fine wine in a bid to garner more attention and praise.
As with any style of wine, there’s a wide range of complexity as well as aromas and flavours to be discovered in different expressions of rosé depending on where the grapes were grown and how they were processed, including whether the wine is produced from a single variety or a blend.
Here in Canada, rosé quality continues to improve across the board as winemakers try to keep up with its rising popularity. Some of the bestselling wines made in Ontario and British Columbia are pink, including the Malivoire Wine Company’s Ladybug Rosé, which constantly ranks as a top selling local bottle at LCBO outlets.
Consumers have opened their minds that not all rosé is cloyingly sweet and aimed at unsophisticated palates. Premium labels such as Whispering Angel, Miraval and Côte des Roses have inspired a flood of dry, artisanal rosé onto the market, which is a great thing in my books. But there’s also been a continuation of mass-market brands, including a slew of celebrity labels made by the likes of Snoop Dogg, Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore, for cynics to point to as degrading the desired quality image. But the same could be said for wines of every colour.
While the rosé category has successfully raised its reputation, there’s still room for improvement when it comes to winning over its detractors. Perhaps it actually is the case that only a rare few bottles of pink Champagne qualify as being truly exceptional. Or, maybe, we could admit that the very best still rosés in the world aren’t getting their due?