Four of this year’s release of Provençal Rosés. Photo by Gloria Chang.
Rosé: Rest. Relaxation. Rejuvenation.
Provençal rosé is inextricably linked to summer, sun, and vacations. When I ask Valérie LeLong of Vins de Provence, who was in Vancouver earlier this month to present this year’s batch of rosés, if there were any new trends, movements and such, she said no. They wanted to maintain its typicity.
Provençal rosés are very light in colour – from onion skin to palest pink – dry, and elegant. They are versatile and easy to sip, though others can be much more complex and finessed. Aromas range from citrus to tropical to berry fruit, flowers, and herbs – depending on producer and area. They still have a close emotional connection to summer, says LeLong, though they are now starting to see an increase in rosé sales throughout the year in export markets – the French of course, have always sipped rosé throughout the year. In fact, rosé wines have been on a steady increase in consumption worldwide, particularly in the UK, Sweden, and Canada, with the US and France doing most of the sipping. France is also the world leader in rosé production.
Valerie wonders if year-round rosé lovers in the UK, for example, might sip, as a way to remember summer during the cold and dark days of winter.
I smiled. That’s sometimes why I reach for a glass of provençal rosé in winter on wet, gray Vancouver days, here in Canada too.
Subtleties and nuances between these very well-balanced rosés aside, Provençal rosé to me, will always be summer in a glass.
Terres de Saint-Louis
If I were to recommend one Provençal rosé this summer, it would be this wine. Ripe red berries on the nose, refreshing acidity, fruit balanced by minerality (I hate using this word, but it seems I’ve found no other when you need to describe a characteristic that is not specific to a particular mineral or rock). This is the wine that takes me back to Provence. This is the wine to sip on the sunny patios and with food. Versatile. Refreshing. Perfect for summer. Under $20 Canadian and available at BC Liquor Stores.
Also beautiful, this rosé is a little less fruity than the Terres de Saint-Louis. This is the rosé I would have with food rather than on its own as it comes across as having more acidity, more linear rather than rounded. Also under $20 Canadian and available at BC Liquor Stores.
On another tier in terms of price and complexity, this rosé from Mirabeau is beautiful. The word beautiful could have been invented to describe this wine. Would I personally spend an extra $10 for this wine when the Terres de Saint-Louis is available as a glass of summer? Probably not. As a treat to enjoy with wine aficionados? Yes. Under $30 Canadian and available at BC Liquor Stores.
Le Grand Cros
This is the most complex and most elegant and refined of the lineup of the four Provençal rosés I tasted with Valerie and Alain of Wines of Provence (though there was no photo available). You may also pick up some herbs in the aromas of this wine, as I did. Just over $30 Canadian and available at Liberty Wine Merchants.
Rosé Throughout the Year
I’d be cheating you if I didn’t highlight some of the other beautiful rosés that exist outside of Provence, because as much as the quintessential Provençal rosé is tied to summer, rosé is not just a wine for when the sun shines. There are so many different kinds. Here are just a few of them.
De Chanceny Rosé Brut
Cremant de Loire, Loire Valley, France
The Loire Valley is major region of rosé production in France. This beautiful bubbly is dry and fruity with refreshing acidity. Made with Cabernet Franc grapes.
Okanagan Valley, Canada
Synchromesh, a small winery from the Okanagan Valley, Canada, is known for its rieslings. But this dry rosé (pale salmon in colour, refreshing high acid, red berries) has convinced me that rosé may also be their forté. Made with Cabernet Franc grapes.
Michelle Brut Rosé
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Washington, US
Made with the two black grapes used to make Champagne (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier), this rosé bubbly is more rounded with a touch of sweetness within the range of Dry. Fabulous to sip before a meal.
If you’d like to learn about some of the rosés in southern Italy (Puglia), see the feature story In the Land of Plenty where I include the rosé wines made from Negroamaro. These rosé wines in particular are ones I think are bested suited for winter with their savoury edge.
Maps courtesy Vins de Provence.