The Rosés of Provence

ROSE Provence Vyd 1Rosé is growing in popularity, in France, in the US, and elsewhere.  Consumers have come to realize that not only is it a refreshing, cool summertime wine, but it pairs beautifully year-round with the light cuisine that is currently in favor. We reviewed a number of Provence rosés for our Annual Rosé Report for 2013, but since issuing that report a number of Provence producers have continued to send us samples. Hence, this update focuses just on the rosés of Provence.

Wine drinkers associate Provence with rosé, which is only appropriate since rosé represents 88 percent of total wine production in Provence, and Provence makes 40 percent of all the rosé in France. Provence has three major appellations: Côtes de Provence, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, and Coteaux Varois en Provence.  Of these, the Côtes de Provence is by far the most important, producing 73 percent of all bottled rosé, followed by Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence with 16 percent. Many varieties of grapes go into Provence rosé, principally, Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Tibouren, and Carignan.  Bandol, another Provence appellation, makes rosés from the Mourvèdre grape.

Rosé consumption in the U.S. is second only to France and growing fast.  In 2012 total US imports of premium rosé (>$12/bottle) by volume increased by 28 percent, continuing an eight-year trend of double-digit growth in imports of rosé. Furthermore, US imports of rosé from Provence rose by an amazing 41 percent on volume and 43 percent on value in 2012.  And this comes after a 62 percent increase in Provence rosé imports the year before. Rosé consumption is increasing rapidly in France, too. Today about 28 percent of all wine consumed in France is rosé compared to just 11 percent a couple of decades ago.

See our Annual Rosé Report for 2013 for more on how rosé is made, how to pair rosé with food, and for reviews of over 100 rosés from other regions of France and elsewhere. Selected photos in this article are by Francois Millo/CIVP.  Thanks to Vins de Provence and Joan Brower of The Dilenschneider Group for assistance in obtaining samples.

Côtes de Provence

ROSE Provence Sainte Victoire

Mont Sainte-Victoire in Aix en Provence

Château D’Esclans 2012 Whispering Angel Rosé Côtes de Provence ($20) 89  A pale pink, delicately flavored wine showing notes of early season fresh red apple and raspberry packaged into an easy drinking wine. Well made, it finishes dry. A great Sunday brunch sort of wine. Made of Grenache and Rolle (Vermentino). Importer: Shaw-Ross International, Miramar FL Château D’Esclans 2012 Rosé Wine Côtes de Provence  ($35) 91 A floral perfume with notes of orange blossoms, freshly cut watermelon, and minerals. The palate has a stony character with light herbal and pink grapefruit accents, finishing clean, long and with a nice mineral focus. Made from a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Rolle and Syrah, 100 percent free run juice.  About half the Grenache vines are 80 years old. Partly made in 500 L barrels with lees stirring. Château D’Esclans 2011 Les Clans Rosé Côtes de Provence ($65) 92  Made from old vines (50-80 years old) and fermented and aged in 500 L barrels for 6 months with lees stirring.   This is an elegant wine with notes of almond and cherry flowers on the nose, a lovely refined palate of white almonds with hints of herbs and berries.  A great wine to pair with seafood and subtly flavored vegetables.  Charles Thomas 2012 Sainte Victoire Côtes de Provence ($17) 89  Pale salmon pink in color, this wine has floral scents of rose petals with a note of fresh field raspberries. It’s beautifully balanced with a creamy palate, good acidity, and ephemeral notes of red fruit. Very pleasant and easy to drink.  Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils, Ltd Winchester, VA   Château Gassier 2012 Sables d’Azur Côtes de Provence ($16) 89  Pale pink with a fresh strawberry nose, this pleasant drinking, wine has a lightly flavored palate redolent of fresh red berries, finishing dry and crisp. Particularly refreshing in style. A blend of ten different varieties but mostly Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan made by winemaker Guillaume Cordonis using direct pressing and fermentation at low temperature.  Importer: Vinum International, Napa CA  Château Les Valentínes 2012 Le Caprice de Clémentine Côtes de Provence ($15) 88  Pale pink. A subtly flavored and delicately aromatic wine showing minerals, a note of red berries, and a chalky dry finish. Refreshing but needs food to show its best.  Importer: Evaton, Inc. Stamford, CT Château Sainte Roseline 2012 Cuvée Lampe de Méduse Cru Classé Côtes de Provence ($20) 90 Pale salmon, this wine is a big step up from the Perle de Roseline.  It shows a very attractive bouquet of minerals with notes of red raspberries and citrus.  Bright and clean in the mouth, the wine shows light red fruit and a pleasant wet gravel note, finishing with real freshness. A direct pressed wine made of five varieties that are separately vniified—Cinsault (35%), Grenache (30%), Mourvèdre (15%), Syrah (10%), and Tibouren (10%).   Château Sainte Roseline 2012 Perle de Roseline Côtes de Provence 87+  Light salmon in color, showing red berry aromas. This is a crisp, clean and easy drinking wine of refreshing acidity and red berry flavors.  A blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah.  Not yet available in the US but sells for

Château Thuerry Vines

Château Thuerry Vines

about €7 in Europe.  Château Thuerry 2012 Le Château Rosé Côtes de Provence ($  ) 88+ With a light pink hue, this saignée blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Cinsault grown on calcareous clay and schist soils offers watermelon and rose petals on the nose and a soft, lightly flavored palate that finishes with a persistent, brighter red fruit note.  Delicious and very easy to drink. Some of the Cinsault vines date from 1927. Importer: Angel’s Share Wine Imports, Brooklyn NY. Domaine du Grand Cros Earl 2012 Jules Côtes de Provence ($14) 87 A straightforward Provence rosé showing some nice red cherry/pomegranate fruit with a hint of minerals, good balance, and a very easy, uncomplicated drinking experience. A blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Tibouren. Importer: The Barter House, New York NY Domaine du Grand Cros Earl 2012 Le Grand Cros L’Esprit de Provence Côtes de Provence ($17) 89 A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, this wine offers a bright, crisp, raspberry-tinged nose. Very nicely balanced with a chalky texture, rose petal and red melon flavors, finishing on a lively note.

Coteaux d’Aix en Provence

Château Beaulieu 2012 Provence Rosé Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence ($16) 89  Very pretty pink. Pomegranate is prominent both aromatically and flavorwise in this easy drinking rosé. A lovely wine to drink, very well chilled, on a hot summer day. Tastes a bit sweeter than 4 g/l RS. Importer: Opici Wines, Glen Rock NJ  Commanderie de la Bargemone 2012 Rosé Coteaux d’Aix en Provence ($19) 89 This is a pleasantly dry, delicately flavored rosé. While understated, it shows good balance and crisp acidity and a good deal of finesse. A blend of 40% Grenache, 32% Cinsault, 15% Syrah, and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from 27+ year old vines with direct pressing, no malo, and certified sustainable by Qualisud.  Importer: Hand Picked Selections, Warrenton, VA

Coteaux Varois en Provence

Château Margüí 2012 Perle de Margüí Rosé Coteaux Varois en Provence ($22) 90  Pale gold. Lightly aromatic and delicately flavored, this somewhat austere rosé reveals minerals, light herbs, and citrus with good freshness and balance. Considerably stonier and more neutrally flavored than the average rosé, try this one with vegetarian dishes or seafood. Made of 45% Grenache, 40% Cinsault, 10% Vermentino, and 5% Syrah grown on clay-limestone soils, biodynamically farmed and hand-picked.  Importer: Bradley Alan Imports, New York, NY

Bandol and Other

Domaine Roche Redonne 2012 Mas Redonne Rosé Bandol ($33) 89  Pale salmon. This Bandol rosé is dry, clean and crisp with a green herbal and passion fruit nose that carries over to the palate, finishing with a chalky mineral note. 55% Mourvèdre, 35% Cinsault, and 10% Grenache. Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils, Ltd Winchester, VA Jean-Luc Colombo 2012 Cape Bleue Rosé Vin de Pays de la Méditerranée ($12) 88+ Stylistically light with a pale pink color, notes of watermelon, and low in alcohol (12.5°) compared to many Syrah based rosés from southern France. But the wine is nicely balanced and very easy drinking. Served well chilled, this is the perfect quaffing wine for a hot summer day. A 67/33 blend of Syrah and Mourvèdre done saignée style.  Importer: Palm Bay Imports, Port Washington, NY Mas de la Dame 2012 Rosé de la Dame Les Baux de Provence ($16) 89 Very pale salmon. Light red cherry shows on the nose and is mirrored on the palate. The wine is well balanced and has a very long finish with prominent cherry notes. A blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 20% Cinsault.  Importer: Palm Bay Imports, Port Washington, NY

Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler






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