Rosé is a wine that you either love or hate. In fact, the category has grown to become better received over the past few years, what with boutique rosé wineries coming into the radar and the proliferation of Provence rosé across the globe.
Over 90 per cent of the wine produced in Provence is rosé, and that has become a significant part of the national wine economy in France. It’s not uncommon to see the blush-pink bottles lining shelf after shelf in supermarkets and wine stores around the country. While it may be the norm there, the region’s rosés have begun to gain its foothold beyond France’s borders due to a massive jump in exportation to countries like America, the United Kingdom, and even Asia.
Let us convince you why Provence rosé is worth your dime with this guide on its steady rise.
A quick refresher on rosé
Rosé is created when the grapes are macerated, via skin contact typically over 12 to 24 hours. The skins are then removed, and the juice continues to ferment, resulting in the eventual rose-coloured wine that gets bottled.
Rosé tends to range from dry, sweet, and semi-sweet, and are typically made from the combination of Syrah, Pinot Noir, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Sangiovese and more. Any red grape can be used, but these tend to be the most common.
This wine is also best drunk young, as rosés are rarely, if ever, made for ageing. Serving them chilled is preferred and often advised on the labels themselves.
What makes Provence rosé stand out?
Anyone who has ever had the chance to visit Provence will know that the Southern region is as gorgeous as they come in France. Home to a multitude of different landscapes that range from mountains to coastlines, and with weather that is typically governed by hot and dry summers and rainy winters, Provence’s terroir is pretty much golden for making lush rosés that are big on flavour, a far cry from the general assumption that rosés are delicate.
What are the forces pushing its growth?
We’ve mentioned a surge in international exports for Provence rosé, but the wine has also garnered multiple headlines this year as notable wineries from the region underwent acquisitions from major conglomerates.
Louis Vuitton Moët-Hennessey just recently acquired a majority stake in Chateau d’Esclans, well-known in America for being the leading rosé there. That big-ticket purchase follows the news the family that owns the fashion house, Chanel, has purchased Domaine de L’Ile, another rosé producer in Provence, to branch out into viticulture.
When these names bet their money on something, you can be sure that there are signs said ‘thing’ is on the rise.
Where do you start?
Well, you start to get to know Provence rosé by drinking, naturally. Of course, there needs to be a bit of know-how, so here are, in our opinions, some labels to look out for.
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Credited for being one of the brands that introduced rosé to the mainstream, Chateau d’Esclans’ Whispering Angel wines remain one of the most popular of its category in the world, retailing in over 100 countries worldwide. With a heritage of 20 years and counting, Whispering Angel justifies its longstanding renown with its accessible and highly drinkable wines, composed with a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Rolle.
One of Provence’s major rosé players is Chateau d’Esclans. The parent estate of Whispering Angel also releases vintages under their own name, grown from Grenache, Vermentino, Syrah, Cinsault and Tibouren. Priding itself on rosés that are soft, fruity and slightly spicy, Chateau d’Esclans is well worth the splurge.
Aix Rosé’s salmon pink hue segues into a more robust rosé that’s big on berries, melon and floral notes — fully embodying the idea that rosé is drunk as a summertime wine. The classical Provence rosé blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah is enhanced with Carignan in Aix’s blend, adding to the depth of the wine thanks to Cinsault’s characteristic spice.
While Maison De Grand Esprit does not specialise in rosés from Provence alone, they do have a rosé under their L’Être Magique line made in the region. The prominence of red berries and pear give a brightness to this medium-bodied rosé that you can’t get enough of.