Wine Enthusiast - Coming Up Rosés

Wine Enthusiast - Coming Up Rosés

From Wine Enthusiast- Coming Up Rosés article, published on July, 2021 in Wine Enthusiast by Roger Voss.

« Still the official wine of summer, pink pours from Provence continue to evolve.

A bottle of Provence rosé can evoke similar feelings to a beautiful sunset. Its color and luminous bottle precipitate enjoyment. The pleasure begins before the bottle is even opened. That pale rosé color, the vibrancy and freshness that shine from the glass : This is Provence. Even in the depths of winter, the wines sing of sun, blue sky and dining on the patio.

The pale color at the heart of Provence rosé comes from the fact that Grenache, the mainstay of so many wines, has a relatively pale skin. Cinsault, its partner, is equally prone to a light color. It’s only when Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon are added to the blend that color becomes an important element, and something a winery needs to control. There was a time, in the 2017 and 2018 vintages, when the pale color of Provence rosé became almost white in some wines. If you held a glass up to the light, it was hard to tell. Only the wine’s aromatic fruitiness and texture gave the game away. That tendency has, happily, gone in the 2019 and 2020 vintages. The 2020 vintage marks a return to color. We look at the past, present and future of this magnificent style.

Setting the Benchmark for Rosé

Provence has become the international standard by which other rosés are judged. The flavors from the blend of Grenache and Cinsault, spiced by Syrah, Mourvèdre and Tibouren, and freshened by white grapes like Vermentino, are what rosé drinkers seek. A Provence rosé is lightly spicy, with intense red fruits, citrus and sometimes a touch of minerality. There’s always fresh acidity, a crisp touch that makes the wine refreshing and moreish. Ravoire outlines the steps that go into how to create a rosé with the right color and flavor profile.

A Taste of Past and Present

Provence, in the South of France, has a long wine history. Vines were planted from 600 B.C. by the Phoenicians who founded the city of Marseille, and then cultivated by the Greeks who colonized the region. The Romans ran the region from the second century B.C. and gave it its name: Provincia, the province, their first colony outside the Italian peninsula. Given this long history, it’s delicious irony that today’s signature Provence wine should be so modern, a wine that relies on technique in the winery as much as it does on those ancient vineyards. While rosé production is more about technique than romance, remember that the grapes here come from vineyards that increasingly prioritize organic farming and preserving biodiversity. The aim is to be 100% organic by 2030, according to the Provence Wine Board, the industry’s trade body. That creates a dichotomy : vineyards that preserve nature alongside wineries that are seriously hightech. It’s a world away from the dusty cellar full of barrels. Not that barrels have been dismissed from the world of Provence rosé. Some rosés become complex and matured in barrels. This has created a series of profiles, from simple, quaffable wines to those that are rich, full-bodied and worth aging.

They have prices to match, from less than $20 to $100. The vineyards and estates of Provence lie in a landscape full of drama and light. Mountains are all around, like Mont Saint-Victoire, Massif de la Sainte-Baume, Massif des Maures and Massif des Alpilles surmounted by the hilltop fortress of Les Baux de Provence. Lavender fields are everywhere. Wine estates have created restaurants, luxury hotels, exhibition centers and open-air theaters. »

One from the New Vintage

Château de Berne 2020 Inspiration Rosé (Côtes de Provence) ; $20

Ready for its Close-Up

« It’s little wonder that Provence has attracted entertainment stars to enjoy its lifestyle and beautiful landscapes. It’s created a new category—the celebrity rosé. Names include Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie of Château Miraval; Star Wars Director George Lucas at Château Margüi and rapper Post Malone with Maison No 9. These celebrity-name bottlings have been followed by those of heavy hitters within the industry.

Americans have fallen in love with Provence and its rosés. The U.S. is the top foreign market for Provence, with a whopping 46% of exports by volume in 2019. Gone are the days when rosé (called blush) was mainly sweet.

If all this seems a far cry from the jug of rosé in a Provençal café or bar, consider that Saint-Tropez and Cannes are also in Provence. Luxury has been a part of the mix there for at least two centuries. As much as the color, bottle and taste, that sense of luxury is part of the allure of Provence rosé. It brings that whiff of lifestyle as well as fruity aromas. No longer a one-size-fits-all shade of pale, it allows wine lovers of all stripes to sip with the famous from the comfort of home. Any time we yearn for escape, a bottle of Provence rosé should be at hand »

The Appellation : Côtes de Provence.

« This is the heart of Provence rosé. Aromatic, fruity, floral and sometimes with a light herbal character, the wines are mostly enjoyed young, which keeps the freshness and bright immediate appeal. »

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