Rosé from Provence has become one of the most fashionable wines
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.