Why Are These Three BC Pinot Noir Rosés So Affordable?

Isn't that grape more expensive?

Help me out with something here. We all seem to accept that, as a general rule and all other things being equal, Pinot Noir costs more than other grapes. It’s called the “Heartbreak Grape” for a reason: it’s trickier to grow, getting high yields is tough and it’s literal thin skin means it’s less hardy than thick-skinned grapes like Cabernets.

So how come in BC those same pricey Pinot grapes don’t come with any sort of premium, and are actually is cheaper than rosés made with grapes like merlot (which have iffy track records for making the pink stuff)? I’m not complaining, just perplexed.

Take the above bottle from Pinot specialist Spearhead. Their single vineyards are priced at $35, which is reasonable given they’re at the very top of the quality charts in Canada. Their rosé comes from grapes exclusively from these same vineyards but is $22. And it’s a wonderful, tart cherry and juicy grapefruit take on rosé – vastly superior (and no more expensive) to many other Okanagan options that are seemingly made from whatever grapes were leftover at harvest.

Or take this bottle from the legendary Tantalus, one of Spearhead’s neighbours east of Kelowna. I can’t think of a winery that has a more solid lineup of wines in the country—their Rieslings are amazing, their Chardonnays amazing, their Bubbles are amazing and their Pinot…amazing. Their “basic” pinot is $31, but their killer rosé (made of 60% Pinot and 40% Pinot Meunier) is an insane $19 at the winery. It’s a low alcohol screamer of a wine – the Meunier provides some heft to counter a natural rhubarb savoury character (and that bottle shot above makes it look far darker than it is).

And continuing the “throw economics out the window trend” is Lillooet’s Fort Berens, which sells their Pinot Noir for a respectable $32, but dip to a just plain goofy $18.50 for their 100% Pinot rosé. For anyone who grew up on the prairies, you’ll maybe get a hit of the pucker, then sweetness that comes from biting into a crab apple. It’s just such a friendly, easygoing wine that still asserts some character.

So here’s the thing. I know there are a multitude of reasons why a winemaker’s Pinot is more expensive than their Rosé Pinot, including grape selection, aging program and wood program. But I also know that in a lot of other jurisdictions like California, Rosé Pinto sells for a premium over other varietals. Look no further than the marketing juggernaut that is Meiomi, whose rose is only $1 less than their red Pinot. I also know that there’s a lot of leftover scraps rosé in the Okanagan that sells for the same or often more than these three beauties. Whatever the reason, don’t change you beautiful pinot makers…and we’ll promise to buy your bargain pink stuff.