Brad and Angelina make a wine. It’s called Miraval, and it’s from Provence. The glitz and glamour translate directly into a wine. The signature pale salmon-pink Provence hue combined with a standout bottle shape with an elegant, stylish label makes you want to dunk it in an ice bucket and jump straight into the glistening sea of the Côte d’Azur.
Rosé is back on the wine scene to stay, and for good reason. Rosés are becoming more and more complex year on year, with some of them commanding well over £20 now. Sales of rosé have rocketed 250% over the last twelves years in the UK. Exports of Provence to the UK have increased by over 30% compared to last year.
So what’s the fuss?
Rosé from Provence is the spiritual home of serious rosé. If you like sweet, sometimes sickly rosé like so much of the White Zinfandel we get in the supermarkets then look away now.
Provence, in the South of France, has produced rosé for hundreds of years. It’s an inherent part of Provençal’s “art of living”. Rosé represents a huge 88% of wine production in the region – seeing 146 million bottles made each year! A wine that used to predominantly exist as a byproduct of red wine making is now seeing a huge surge in quality and popularity.
The 2015 vintage is being released now, so keep your eyes out for these as they’ll be a lot fresher than the 14s that are hanging around.
Generally speaking, rosé is a wine to drink young and fresh, while its fruit is vibrant.
HOW IS IT MADE?
Rosé is wine made from red grapes (and the occasional white). It is not a blend of red and white wine (this is actually illegal in Europe).
Only the skin of red grapes contains the colour. Hence, the colour of a rosé wine depends on the duration and temperature of the contact between the juice and the skin. This is maceration, and where all the aromas come from – the wine is first pressed and then macerates. Some wines don’t macerate at all – simply just go through pressing. This is called “direct pressing”.
Whether directly pressed or having seen maceration, the wine is then fermented in stainless steel (or rarely oak or wood) for around 8-15 days.
The type of grape in question as well as the terroir (patch of earth the grape comes from) also has an impact on the colour and personality of the wine.
Typically in Provence, we see the word “garrigue” used. Garrigue means herbs, typically those that grow in the countryside of the South of France (rosemary, lavender, sage etc…) This is a herbaceous character that often appears in Provence wines. Whether or not it comes directly from those herbs through the vineyard into the wine is a subject that is open to debate…
WHAT GRAPES ARE USED?
Over a dozen varieties are used; some staples and some are more site-specific. Blending is a tradition and an art in this region. Carignan, Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Tibouren, Rolle, Syrah and Cab Sav are the main ones.
WHAT DO THEY TASTE LIKE?
They’re bone dry, and beautifully pale. There’s something a bit ethereal about drinking one of these in the sunshine.
They have a rich, aromatic bouquet of peaches, red berries, cherries and exotic fruits, combined with floral notes of white flowers and sometimes roses as well as that distinctive garrigue. Provence rosés also have the capacity for spicy notes of nutmeg and cinnamon. They’re fresh, vivacious and very moreish. Some are also made with malolactic fermentation which means they get a really nice creamy texture.
WHAT THE HELL IS BROSÉ?
Ha. Ha. Brosé. A word that popped on the scene last summer. Men drinking rosé. And so they should! Why not? Just because it’s pink doesn’t mean it’s girly. In fact, apparently more men drink rosé in Brazil than women (!)
Provence in particular is a serious rosé and one that you can pair with all sorts of food, think all types of fish and seafood, spicy dishes, summer pesto salads, etc etc…
SOME VERY GOOD PROVENCE ROSÉS YOU CAN FIND EASILY…
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Provence Rosé 2014,
I think this is a very good wine for the price. It represents excellent value. Bright strawberry and cherry notes.
Cabaret Rosé 2014,
Again, also excellent value for money. Slightly more floral; strawberry, blossom and lilly notes.
Clos Cibonnes Tentations Rosé 2014
£12.99 Red Squirrel Wine
More on the peachy notes, this is a very fresh, delicate wine with apricot and fresh acidity.
M de Minuty 2015
£14.99 Majestic, on offer to £11.99, £13, on offer to £9.95 at Roberson
The classic Minuty rosé that soared to fame after Kiera Knightly drank it at her wedding. An exceptional example of Provence, with slightly sharper citrus notes, along with the classic strawberry and some raspberry too. You can’t beat this one for the offer price.
Chateau Coussin Rosé 2014,
Zesty, strawberries and cream with slightly sharper zingy citrus and passionfruit notes.
Around £18.50, from M&S, Majestic, Philglas and Swiggott, etc etc…
The gorgeous bottle, name and design might have a little to do with the higher price here but it’s still a really, really excellent rosé made from a very well renowned winemaker. White flowers, cherries and strawberries.
Whispering Angel 2014
Around £17, from Waitrose, Philglas and Swiggott…
One of the classics and one of my favourites. Strawberries and redcurrants, it is extremely well balanced and very smooth. To be enjoyed in the sun all day long.