Backsberg Pinotage Rosé 2018, South Africa
La Bernarde Rosé 2018, Provence

Cost: $12-14, 14-16
P erhaps the only thing better than rosé in warm weather is rosé in cool weather.
Most of us turn to blush wines during the warm summer months, but I would urge you to consider rosé all year long. A well-made rosé pairs well with many kinds of food, making it a good choice for holiday feasts.
This week I’ll introduce you to two great food wines, one from South Africa and one from Provence, the mother ground for rosé. They are a nice comparison of Old World and New World styles.
There is a lot to like about both these wines, starting with price. The Backsberg Pinotage Rosé 2018, South Africa, is only $12-14, and the La Bernarde Rosé 2018, Provence, is only $14-16.
Both producers are eco-friendly, practicing sustainable farming and preserving the land for future generations.
The Backsberg is particularly interesting because it is made with a grape mainly grown in South Africa. I was puzzled about Pinotage for many years, because I would find some that were fantastic and others that were harsh and difficult to drink.
A South African winemaker explained that it is a great grape if it is handled properly. It needs to be planted in the right place and handled correctly in the winery. Created in 1925 as a cross between pinot noir and cinsaut (which was known as Hermitage in South Africa at the time), it is clearly a New World wine.
The Blacksberg rosé is bright and fresh, with strawberry, cherry and tropical fruit flavors. It is almost like drinking a fruit salad, with very low tannins.
The grapes are picked before they are fully ripe and processed much like white grapes, crushed and pressed followed by cool fermentation in stainless steel.
The La Bernarde rosé is a blend of southern French grapes that shows fresh fruitiness, with tastes of red berries, peach and grapefruit, with a hint of minerality. It is everything you would expect from a Provence rosé. It is more restrained and not as fruit forward as the Blacksberg.
The blend is 46 percent cinsaut, 27 percent grenache, 7 percent syrah, 11 percent mourvedre and 9 percent rolle. The vines are between 30 and 45 years old. The wine is fermented and aged in tanks.
Winery: The Backsberg story begins with C.L. Back who landed in Cape Town a penniless refugee from Lithuania early in the 1900s. He worked various jobs before buying a butcher shop at the Paarl train station.
One day someone stopped at the shop and asked if anyone would be interested in buying a farm. Back bought the farm and grew grain and fruit and raised livestock. He also grew grapes and in the early 1920s started making wine, much of which was sold in bulk.
His son Sydney joined the business in 1936 and started spending more time on the wine side. Economics led him to sell the brand name — Back’s Wines — and start over in 1969. He registered the name Backsberg and over time replaced his peach orchards with vineyards.
Sydney’s son Michael joined the business in 1976 and his son Simon came aboard in 2008.
Winemaking is done with as little intervention as possible. Located in the Paarl region, it is the only winery in South Africa, and one of just a few in the world, which is carbon neutral.
La Bernarde is an historic property in the village of Luc in the Côtes de Provence in southeast France. The property has been restored by the owners of Commanderie de Peyrassol, utilizing the same winemaking team.
The winery is certified organic by Ecocert, the leading organic certification organization in France.
The vineyards are on rock-laden hillsides next to the famed Peyrassol, and produce a more elegant rosé than the vineyards on the low-lying plains. At nearly 1,000 feet above sea level, the village has snow most winters.
The cool, hillside air allows for a longer and more balanced ripening of grapes, allowing the winery to start its harvest 10 days later than the lower sites in most years.
The high altitude, cooler micro-climate sets La Bernarde apart from the hot flatlands of St. Tropez and the rest of Provence.
Goes with: We had the Blacksberg with fried shrimp, steak fries and a fresh garden salad. I love rosé with seafood and this wine didn’t disappoint. The crisp acidity of the wine was a nice match for the rich shrimp and cocktail sauce.
The La Bernarde paired well with fish and chips, fried cod and steak fries. The wine had enough body to hold its own with the tasty fish and spicy cocktail sauce without overpowering the food. Each bite made you want more wine.
Both of these wines are excellent food wines. I would pair the Blacksberg with seafood and salads, or with light lunches such as quiche and pastries. It also would be great with a Meditterranean platter of cheese, olives, charcuterie and a crusty French bread.
The La Bernarde would be great with raw tuna, cheese-stuffed mushrooms, beef brochettes, pan-seared shrimp or flan.
As with many rosés, it would be difficult to go wrong in pairing these wines with food.

If you have questions about wine you can email Dennis Sodomka at

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