by Malcolm Jolley

Southern Ontario’s hot, muggy summers demand rosé. Indeed, some of our Niagara and Prince Edward County producers make stunningly good, and refreshing pink wines, whose strawberry notes mesh seamlessly into the chirping of crickets on summer lawns. In fact, there seem to be few terribly awful rose wines to be had these days, as producers around the world adopt bone dry styles. Still, homage must be paid to the birthplace of it all, Provence and its great rosé AOC, Tavel.

There was a summer not too long ago (the one before the great credit crunch of 2008), when the LCBO began stocking Tavels priced at $25, $26 or even $29. Complete heresy. Part of the charm of proper rose is its cheap and cheerful charm. It should not, categorically, cost more than $20 (or 15 euros, should you find yourself overseas). At $18.95 the 2009 Chateau d’Aqueria Tavel Rose (LCBO# 319368) is priced comme il faut. And it’s quite a stunning wine on a sultry evening.

Strawberry and roses give it a floral, fruity lift with a refreshing twang of acidity. The challenge is to maintain a sipping pace – serve next to a big glass of water. Outside of red meat, this wine will pair with just about anything you can throw on the grill, though it may match best with salty antipasta like prosciutto or white anchovies on toast or potato chips with dip.