Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Mirabel and Painted Rock have upscale rosé wines

Photo: Mirabel owner Doug Reimer

It speaks to the surging popularity of rosé wines that both Mirabel Vineyards and Painted Rock Estate Winery have released “premium-priced” rosé wines.

Most B.C. rosés are priced in the $15 to $20 a bottle range. The imported pink wines in the B.C. Liquor Stores, while mostly also under $20, include a selection of Provence rosé wines between $20 and $30, suggesting that a market has developed for premium rosé.

Mirabel Vineyards is the new Kelowna producer owned Doug and Dawn Reimer. They released a very fine Pinot Noir last fall at $70 a bottle. Now they have released a Mirabel Rosé of Pinot Noir 2016, priced $30.

The smart packaging resembles the Miravel 2016 Provence rosé listed this year at $28.99 in the B.C. Liquor Stores. The name and the bottle shape no doubt are coincidental.

Painted Rock is the winery established by John Skinner and his family on a vineyard near the Skaha climbing bluffs south of Penticton. All the wines here are priced between $35 and $55 – except for the rosé, which is $21.69 plus tax. This is the winery’s fourth rosé vintage.

Both of these wines are made in the saignée method. That is a French term meaning “bleed” that is one of the common ways to make a rosé. It means that red grapes are crushed and the juice receives the required skin contact to achieve a rosé colour. Then a portion of the juice – typically no more than 15% by volume – is bled from the tank. It is fermented much like a white wine.

The remaining varietal juice remains on the skins for the longer period required for red wine. With the higher ratio of skins to juice, the red wine benefits by having more concentrated flavours and textures.

And the rosé does not suffer, as these wines illustrate.

Here are notes on the two rosé wines, as well as a note on Painted Rock’s 2016 Chardonnay, also just released.

Mirabel Rosé of Pinot Noir 2016 ($30 for 100 cases). This wine was fermented cool in stainless steel and spent six months on the lees, gaining texture. Packaged in a clear squat bottle with a glass stopper, the wine has immediate eye appeal. The light salmon pink hue mirrors many fine Provence rosés. The aromas of strawberry and raspberry and the fruit flavours pack more punch than the colour leads one to expect. There are flavours of strawberry with a hint of McIntosh apple. The crisp, dry finish is refreshing. 91.

Painted Rock Estate Rosé 2016 ($21.69 plus tax for 510 cases). Every red varietal in the winery was bled for this. The blend is 29% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, 20% Syrah, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Malbec and 8% Petit Verdot. The vibrant hue is a bit darker than the Provence style; more like a Tavel rosé. The aromas of strawberry and red currant just bound from the glass, leading to bold and herbaceous flavours of strawberry, cranberry, cherry and red currant. The wine is dry. 91.

Painted Rock Estate Chardonnay 2016 ($30.49 plus tax for 488 cases). To build complexity into this wine, there were three different harvests over three weeks of the Chardonnay block to capture specific characters of flavour and ripeness. Eighty percent of the wine was aged six months in French oak (55% new); the remainder was aged in stainless steel. Sixty percent of the wine went through malolactic fermentation. The object of this complex winemaking was to preserve aromatics, fruit and acidity while framing it very subtly with oak. The wine begins with citrus aromas. On the palate, there are flavours of apple, melon and stone fruit. This is an excellent wine but I wonder if it has not been released a bit too soon. There is a lot of potential yet to emerge with, say, six more months of bottle aging. 90 +.


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