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Food & Wine Jon Bon Jovi goes from Bed of Roses to bottles of rosé

Jon Bon Jovi and Jesse Bongiovi celebrate the launch of their the Hampton Water Rosé on March 28, 2019 in West Hollywood, Calif.

JERRITT CLARK/Getty Images

Everything I knew about Jon Bon Jovi until two weeks ago could be summed up succinctly. He is a rock star, has acted in a bunch of films and TV shows, including Sex and the City and The West Wing, and a few of his platinum hits – such as Bed of Roses and Bad Medicine – are the preferred dance soundtrack of countless professional strippers.

That last nugget comes not from my own first-hand research (I swear) but from reliable sources in my circle of friends, who prefer to remain anonymous where this topic is concerned. Recently, as I attempted to verify the point with a Google search, I learned that the peeler-bar connection goes way back. It turns out that the New Jersey native’s breakthrough 1986 album, Slippery When Wet, was recorded in Vancouver during a time when Bon Jovi’s eponymous band would, after long days in the studio, regularly unwind at the city’s adult-entertainment venues, most notably No. 5 Orange club in Gastown. (The album’s name apparently had something to do with the lads getting to watch a certain employee shower at the club, but I digress.)

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Today, I can testify with first-hand knowledge that Bon Jovi has a sterling nose as well as a solid-gold musical ear. He has joined the seemingly endless list of celebrity vintners, expertly assisted in his case by Gérard Bertrand, the pioneering organic winemaker in southern France. Together, they’ve crafted a delicious dry rosé called Hampton Water from grapes grown, thankfully not in Long Island’s resort community of the Hamptons, but in France’s southern Languedoc region.

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“Hampton Water” – sounds like a sign of the times. Remember the 1980s, when rock-’n’-rollers did drugs, partied with strippers and threw TV sets out of hotel windows? Today apparently they spend their summers sipping pink beverages by the beach next to Katie Couric, Martha Stewart and Kelly Ripa.

The name is in fact something of an inside joke between Bon Jovi and his twentysomething son, Jesse, who is the wine brand’s co-founder (and who retained his father’s original surname, Bongiovi). Rosé apparently has long been a favourite poolside tipple at their East Hampton compound. Jon had a habit of referring to it as “pink juice” until his son, along with a friend, playfully coined the term Hampton Water.

Guess what? It’s terrific, much like the rosé created for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie by France’s Perrin family. Bone-dry and elegant in that southern-French way, it’s made mainly from grenache, cinsault and mourvèdre grapes, classic varieties used in the region’s wines. Originally launched last year in the United States, it was recently rolled out to several provinces and leads my pink parade this week. It’s not cheap, but it goes down very easily. They should have called it Slippery When Wet.

Hampton Water Rosé 2018, France

SCORE: 91 PRICE: $29.95

Pale pink. Satisfyingly dry, light and juicy, very much in the Provençal style. Beautifully balanced, with crisp but well-integrated acidity. The fruit hints at strawberry and raspberry, with good flesh and a touch of satisfying bitterness. Just enough tannic backbone to lend firmness to the flesh. Light spice and admirable length from time spent in French-oak barrels. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in British Columbia and Alberta private stores, $27.80 in Quebec, $33.99 in Nova Scotia, $34.99 in Newfoundland.

Quails’ Gate Lucy’s Block Rosé 2018, British Columbia

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SCORE: 92 PRICE: $24.99

Pale pink, like the classic dry rosés of Provence. Light, silky and perfectly dry, with delicate strawberry and raspberry fruit set against crisp acidity. Sublimely balanced and worth the premium price. A blend of pinot meunier and pinot noir. Available direct for shipping, and there’s a discount for members of the estate’s wine club, through quailsgate.com.

Château Val Joanis Joséphine Rosé 2018, France

SCORE: 91 PRICE: $25.95

Sublime rosé. Lightly tinted in the typical way of southern France, and perfectly dry. Good volume in the mouth, with a silky texture and delicate flavours of strawberry, peach and citrus. The acidity is perfectly tuned. Elegant stuff. Available in Ontario.

Château des Charmes Rosé Cuvée d’Andrée 2018, Ontario

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SCORE: 90 PRICE: $16.95

Saturated cherry-pink, similar in hue to a full-bodied Tavel rosé from the southern Rhône Valley. Fortunately, the taste is comparable to Tavel, too – unapologetically big in flavour yet perfectly dry. Strawberry, watermelon and peach flavours emerge in the first act, joined by red apple in the second. Almost sticky with concentration. Great value. Available soon at the Niagara winery, fromtheboscfamily.com.

Kitsch Pinot Noir Rosé 2018, British Columbia

SCORE: 90 PRICE: $25

Lovely stuff. Elegantly, simply packaged, the clear-glass Burgundian bottle revealing the wine’s light peachy-pink colour, with a plain-white, minimalist label. Very much in the dry, delicate, southern-French style. Subtle cherry, lemon and lime are carried on a silky texture, tucked in beautifully by well-integrated acidity; kitschwines.ca.

Stag’s Hollow Syrah Rosé 2018, British Columbia

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SCORE: 89 PRICE: $22

Very light in colour, this is silky, with a dollop of sweetness in the middle, yet still finishing very dry. Strawberry, watermelon and a light sprinkling of herbs, white pepper and stone dust (figuratively speaking). Available direct through stagshollowwinery.com.

Henry of Pelham Rosé 2018, Ontario

SCORE: 89 PRICE: $14.95

Pale strawberry-pink in colour. On the palate, it’s light-medium-bodied and relatively smooth, with bright strawberry fruit and lemon, then a whisper of apple on the crisp finish. Very good for the money. Available in Ontario at the above price, $18.99 in Newfoundland.

Hidden Bench Locust Lane Rosé 2018, Ontario

SCORE: 88 PRICE: $23.95

Super-pale in colour, Hidden Bench’s Locust Lane rosé is an unusual blend of 97-per-cent pinot noir with 3-per-cent viognier, a white grape, the latter presumably adding weight and floral, aromatic lift. Light-medium-bodied, at a reasonably tame 12-per-cent alcohol, the wine is brimming with strawberry and citrus blossom as well as a flinty, matchstick-like overtone. Available in Ontario Vintages stores and online at hiddenbench.com.

Tantalus Rosé 2018, British Columbia

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SCORE: 89 PRICE: $19.13

Enticingly pale pink. Dry, with suggestions of raspberry candy and watermelon along with fresh thyme and red apple. A 50/50 blend of young-vine pinot noir and old-vine pinot meunier. Good density despite the lean body. Available direct through tantalus.ca.

La Vieille Ferme Rosé 2018, France

SCORE: 89 PRICE: $12.50

Medium-bodied and super-light in colour. Excellent balance in a totally dry rosé. Strawberry-cranberry and pear-like fruit with an earthy-herbal nuance of bitterness and grip. A big bargain. Available in Ontario at the above price, $12.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $10.31 in Saskatchewan, $14.29 in New Brunswick, $15.99 in Prince Edward Island.

Ogier Ventoux Rosé 2017, France

SCORE: 88 PRICE: $14.75

Pale peachy-salmon, with more flavour than the colour would suggest. Dry, with juicy raspberry and candied cherry joined by a whisper of herbs. A bestseller – for a reason. Very good price/quality ratio. Available in Ontario at the above price, $18.99 in New Brunswick.

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