Rosé from Provence has be­come one of the most fash­ion­able wines

The Irish Times Magazine - - NEWS - JOHN WIL­SON

John Wil­son on rosé from Provence

At one time rosé from Provence was uni­ver­sally writ­ten off as overpr ic e d a nd poorl y made; fine for gullible tourists but never to be ex­ported. But no longer. Provence rosé is hav­ing a bit of a mo­ment, and not just dur­ing the sum­mer months ei­ther.

Over the last few years, it has be­come the most fash­ion­able tip­ple of the wealthy yachty classes. Con­sumers in France, the US and else­where are happy to pay in­creas­ingly large sums for Provençal rosé.

The man who can take most credit is for­mer Borde­lais Château owner Sacha Li­chine, whose Ch d’Eslcans is clev­erly mar­keted un­der t he name Whis­per­ing An­gel. It gained the nick­name Hamp­ton’s Wa­ter, so pop­u­lar is it in New York and other parts of the US.

Li­chine now sells var­i­ous cu­vées of his rosé, ris­ing to Gar­rus, an oak- aged ver­sion, for a whop­ping ¤ 98, while the “en­try- level” Whis­per­ing An­gel is ¤ 30-¤ 35 ( in­de­pen­dents). His com­pe­ti­tion i s Clos Mireille f rom Do­maines Ott ( about ¤ 35), owned by Cham­pagne house Louis Roed­erer, still a favourite among many con­nois­seurs.

Then An­gelina Jolie and Brad Pi t t bo u g h t Ch Mir av a l i n Provence, a prop­erty that in­cluded a 30- hectare vine­yard. The wine is made by the Per­rin fam­ily ( bet­ter known as own­ers of many wines from the Rhône). It has fea­tured here be­fore, as it is very good. You will find it in Ter­roirs in Don­ny­brook and Marks & Spencer for about ¤ 30. Ter­roirs has mag­nums avail­able too.

Bot­tle shape is all- im­por­tant in the rosé mar­ket; more am­bi­tious pro­duc­ers have re­placed the tra­dit i onal skittl e bot­tle ( see t he Houchard rosé ) with their own – some­times spec­tac­u­lar – de­signs. Size is im­por­tant too – large- for­mat bot­tles, mag­num or dou­ble mag­num, are es­sen­tial in fash­ion­able Mediter­ranean re­sorts.

Provence rosé is gen­er­ally fresh, light, crisp and dry. It can some­times be a lit­tle too aus­tere, but the best have very at­trac­tive el­e­gant straw­berry fruits and some real com­plex­ity.

Dry rosé of any kind is a great sum­mer food wine, with grilled fish and white meats, and richer sal­ads too. In ad­di­tion to the wines fea­tured, Marks & Spencer and Aldi both stock very de­cent in­ex­pen­sive Provence rosé.

Just about ev­ery wine re­gion has tried to hop on the rosé band­wagon, with vary­ing de­grees of suc­cess. Neigh­bour­ing Langue­doc has sim­i­lar grape va­ri­eties and cli­mate, if not quite the same ca­chet, and the wines can of­fer great value. The Loire val­ley pro­duces a va­ri­ety, in­clud­ing some de­li­cious del­i­cate dry wines, and New Zealand and other re­gions have turned Pinot Noir into won­der­fully fra­grant light rosés. We will re­turn to these shortly.

O’Briens stocks no fewer than 16 rosés, in­clud­ing Ma­teus Rosé, many of them on a sum­mer- long buy one, get one half- price pro­mo­tion.

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